Hoodwinked

Friday, December 02, 2011

Question

My wife has an identical twin. They came to our Halloween party in identical cowgirl costumes. I thought it was my wife who dragged me into the pantry and made out with me for half an hour. The next day my wife informed me that it was her sister! They did it on purpose to see if I could tell the difference between them.

Now my wife claims I don't really love her. I feel befuddled and hurt. Isn't this entrapment? I have never behaved inappropriately with her sister. The thought makes me sick to my stomach. It's just wrong, a terrible thing to do. But is it fair of her to expect me to know something was off, given that her sister never took her mask or her costume off, and was silent the whole time?

These two are very identical twins, and have been exchanging clothes and fooling other people since they were little kids. Teachers in school gave up on punishing them since they could never tell which one had been bad and which one was innocent. Their relationship has always seemed odd to me. Her sister lives in our neighborhood. They see each other every day. When they aren't together it seems like they are on the phone. They don't have many other close friends. I never objected in the past because I have no idea what it would feel like to have an identical twin. I figured as long as my wife was happy, it was okay if her sister acted like the third member of our marriage.

Now I wonder if the sister is trying to drive us apart. Maybe it's harder for her to share than it is for me. No matter how often I apologize, my wife's anger just escalates. I am tempted to stop apologizing and go on the offensive, but what defense do I have?

Answer

Of all the dirty tricks I've seen couples play on one another, this has to rank as one of the dirtiest. The fact that you feel you can't defend yourself speaks volumes about the messed-up power dynamics in your marriage. A loving partner would never set their mate up this way. If you care for and trust someone, you don't “test” their faithfulness by dangling your replica in front of them. Shame on your wife and her sister. Shame, shame, shame. This has nothing to do with being identical twins and everything to do with being manipulative and spiteful. While your wife is caterwauling about not being able to trust you, the sad fact is that she has probably destroyed any possibility that you will ever love or trust her again.

You've put up with such a high level of involvement from your wife's twin that you refer to her as the third member of your marriage. There's something very wrong with this picture. I don't know if the impetus to pull this stunt came from a jealous sister or a heartless spouse, but it should never have reached fruition. If your wife wants to be recognized as an individual apart from her twin, she hasn't created a way of life that would emphasize her individuality. I can understand why she would want to have something special with you that wasn't shared with her sibling, but it's up to her to demonstrate that she has unique qualities. Identical costumes complete with masks don't fit the bill.

Get yourself a decent counselor and ask some hard questions about your own self-image and independence. Have you agreed to a toxic marriage because you are afraid to be alone, or are you just a decent person who got hoodwinked by an unimaginably mean-spirited loved one? Being with this woman has obviously damaged your self-esteem, at any rate, and I think you need an objective outsider to help you to figure out whether you want to stay with her or leave. I doubt she will file for a divorce herself. She's having too much fun torturing you for your alleged blunder. Should you stick around? That's the big question. I try to maintain objectivity myself, but I must admit I kinda hope you leave her stranded on her butt.

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