Annie Lane: Crowded marriage makes me uncomfortable

Published 5:08 pm Friday, September 2, 2022

Dear Annie: My fiance’s brother and his wife have been married for 10 years. They’ve been in a “thruple” now for about six months. They recently moved their girlfriend into their home with them and their two young kids. Although I’ve tried to refrain from judging them because I’ve been told they are happy, I still choose not to be around them.

I believe marriage should be a commitment between two individuals, regardless of gender, and monogamy is a staple of maintaining a foundation of trust between two individuals who are married.

Infidelity has caused problems for them in the past, to which I consoled my future sister-in-law on many occasions. I see this just causing more problems in the long run (not just for them but the kids, too), even though it’s temporarily offered some kind of distorted amicable solution now.

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My fiance tolerates it because it’s his brother, but he doesn’t agree with it either. My decision to distance myself from their family has not affected my relationship with my fiance. He supports my decision and is understanding. Am I wrong to not want to be around them when this “thruple” goes against my moral convictions?

—Three’s Company

Dear Three’s Company: No, you are not wrong. Since this goes against your moral convictions, by all means keep doing what you are doing —choosing not to be around them —though you might want to reach out to your future sister-in-law. I wonder how happy she is with this new arrangement. Of course, her children had no say in the matter.

One size doesn’t fit all marriages, and no matter how close we are to someone, there’s no way of knowing what truly happens behind closed doors. But she might want to open up to you so you can understand why monogamy is not important to her. Or she might say the opposite —that this is all her husband’s idea and it is driving her crazy.

• • •

I agree with you that the situation will cause more problems in the long run for the couple’s marriage, and it could have a lasting impact on their children. In the meanwhile, for those times when you must all be together, try to be as polite as possible.

Dear Annie: I ran across one of your columns the other day where the writer, “Intruding In-Laws,” had written in complaining that their in-laws are a financial disaster and her husband consistently lends them money. I would have suggested the husband sit down with his parents and tell them he’s done bailing them out but offer to pay for a course, such as Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace, or buy them a book along those lines. That course does have in-person classes and online, too, but there are other similar programs.

I’d also suggest the couple go through counseling to help the husband understand why the wife is so upset with him constantly bailing the in-laws out. —Financially Undistressed

Dear Financially Undistressed: An excellent recommendation, indeed. Financial literacy isn’t considered basic knowledge, but it’s certainly something that can be attained at any stage of life. Now’s the perfect time for these in-laws to learn.

As always, there’s also great value in counseling. Money, especially as it pertains to family, can make for situations that are difficult to navigate. Speaking in the presence of a licensed counselor can help “Intruding In-Laws” and her husband establish clear boundaries they’re both comfortable with and get on the same page for their future.

“How Can I Forgive My Cheating Partner?” is out now! Annie Lane’s second anthology —featuring favorite columns on marriage, infidelity, communication and reconciliation —is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to