‘The Other Spouse’ knows best already: move on
Advice columnist Carolyn Hax on the wreckage from a cheating husband and on looking out for a friend’s best interests.
Adapted from a recent online discussion.
DEAR CAROLYN: My husband of 10 years has been having an affair with a married woman. I moved out; we’re getting divorced. It sucks more than I could have imagined, but I am coping with the help of good friends and a good therapist.
My question is about the other woman’s husband, who, according to my husband, doesn’t know about the affair or her plans to leave her marriage. I don’t know if I should contact her husband or not.
On the one hand, I want to because I’m angry and I’d like to upset her life as much as she’s upset mine. The fact that she gets to time her separation for her own convenience — i.e. once my stuff is out of my house so she can move her stuff in — irritates the hell out of me. I also think her husband has a right to know.
On the other, I cringe at the idea of tracking down a stranger and telling him this awful news. Sending him an email, waiting outside his work ... ugh, I hate the thought of doing that. It seems sneaky and petty and I don’t like it. And if he does know and has just accepted the situation, I hate that scenario even more.
I really don’t want to be involved anymore. I just want to get out of this situation and get on with my life, and contacting her husband would keep me very much involved. I’d become a participant rather than a disgusted bystander. What do you advise?
— The Other Spouse
DEAR THE OTHER SPOUSE: I don’t need to advise anything, except to suggest you reread your own letter. You wrote your way to the answer yourself: “I really don’t want to be involved anymore. I just want to get out of this situation.”
If it helps to keep you centered, think of all things marriage and affair as smoking wreckage behind you, which you return to and pick through only when there’s an absolute necessity, by your own definition of such. Otherwise, you’re all forward, all tomorrow, all you.
DEAR CAROLYN: I have a very dear friend who has been dating a guy for a year. While this guy is very nice to her and (from what I can see) is a devoted boyfriend, I have found out that he has told her and others substantial lies about his background. For instance, he claimed to have attended an Ivy League school, but there is no record that he did so, and he says he worked for a government agency, but we have found out that he did not.
Should we say anything to our friend? She is very successful, and we don’t want her taken advantage of. That said, she appears to be happy, and I would not want to do anything to stop that. I think you see the quandary.
DEAR FRIEND: Are you SURE he’s lying, or are you just unable to confirm?
If it’s the former, I’d want to know. Would she? If you don’t know that, ask the next best question: Would you?
For what it’s worth, he might not be taking advantage so much as padding his résumé in a misguided (and ironic) attempt to improve his stock.