Geoff Steurer is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice in St. George, UT. He specializes in working with couples in all stages of their relationships. The opinions stated in this article are solely his and not those of St. George News.
I recently learned some horrible news about some friends of mine, and I have no idea how to handle it. I found out that my dear friend’s husband has been cheating on her for the past several years and I’m certain she has no clue. I found out directly from the “other woman”, who had no idea of my connection to the couple. For some bizarre reason, she was telling us about her illicit relationship with my friend’s husband. While I am not someone who has any interest in getting involved in other people’s business, I can hardly stand the fact that this is going on behind my dear friend’s back without her knowing. I know I would most certainly want my friend to tell me if something like this was happening behind my back. I care about this couple and I’m shocked, disappointed, and hurt. Any suggestions on how I should handle this terrible secret?
I’m sorry to hear you’ve been put in an awful bind by accidentally learning this devastating news. There are no easy answers here. However, I think it’s worth exploring some possible ways to handle it.
First, it’s important to make sure the information you heard is entirely accurate. Once this is brought up to your friend, true or not, it becomes impossible to take it back. The implications of such information will have lasting consequences on both their marriage and your friendship. As you know, this is thermonuclear information and needs to be handled with extreme caution.
The next question, of course, is whether or not it is your place to say anything to your friend or her husband. I think the answer to that question largely depends on two things: 1) your relationship with this couple, and 2) your intentions.
If you’re not that close to this couple, it’s possible that she already knows about this and they’re working on it without involving other people. However if you’re a dear friend, then it’s likely she would have said something to you, or you would have noticed something change in her demeanor.
If your intentions are to help your friend and her husband save their marriage, then you might handle it in a way that allows the husband to initiate the discussion with his wife. I have noticed over years of counseling couples in crisis that it’s much easier to restore trust in the relationship when the unfaithful partner chooses to confess their secret behavior before they’re caught.
My recommendation is that if you feel it’s right to get involved, that you first tell the husband how you learned about this information and inform him that you feel protective of your friend and their marriage. Your direct conversation with him can also include your wish that he tell his wife and the hope that they get the help they need to recover from this situation.
I would start with this and then give it some time. Chances are, once he knows that he’s been exposed, something will start to happen and he’ll begin the process of correcting his behavior.