Infidelity: To Tell or Not To Tell
She's my friend
Q. I just discovered that the husband of a close friend is having an affair. I'm distraught--and if the situation was reversed, I know I would want her to tell me. Should I let her know?
A. This is a tough one--and many of my colleagues are divided on how best to handle it. If you say nothing, you feel terrible because you're harboring a secret from a friend you care about, and that makes you party to the betrayal itself. On the other hand, unless your friend has already admitted that she doubts her husband's fidelity, telling can set off a cataclysmic reaction. You pit yourself against her spouse--and may well compromise your friendship. Then, too, perhaps she knows already, and has chosen, for her own reasons not to say anything to you. Perhaps her husband's dalliance is a one-night mistake in an otherwise solid marriage. Your information could send it headed to divorce court.
That said, I always believe that it's best to let a friend know what you know--and the way you deliver the information can make all the difference. First, consider your own motives carefully. Do you really want to spare your friend pain--or are you feeling somewhat self-satisfied since you never liked her husband to begin with? When you're clear on this, you'll be able to make your friend understand how much you care about her. And if her marriage is in trouble, she'll need you to be there for her. You can say: You know how much I care about you and your happiness. I saw something that troubles me deeply, something I'd want to know if the situation was reversed. Ask for permission to share your info, let her know that you have mentioned this to no one else, and that you'll wait for her cue about doing or saying anything else.--Margery D. Rosen
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