Group Therapy is a relationship advice column that asks readers to contribute their wisdom.
A reader writes: A friend told me he has been cheating on his wife. I am close to his wife and kids and I know he and his wife have had problems, but I don't see him making any efforts to improve relations. I told him he should either end the affair or get a separation. Right now I am disgusted by his selfishness and don't want to see him, but I want to see the family. Advice?
Advise husband to confess
You are between a rock and a hard place. This will likely end in divorce if the husband does not stop the affair and the couple does not seek marriage counselling. As both are your friends, you should follow your conscience. Explain your dilemma to the husband and advise him that he must confess or you will feel obligated to advise his wife. Follow through with your warning. Be prepared to lose the friendship of both knowing that you may save their marriage.
Linda King, Ladysmith, B.C.
Expose the cheater
Tell the wife. Do it anonymously if you must, but make sure she finds out. Her cheating husband may be exposing her to a sexually transmitted disease, and she has the right to know.
Ivy Simms, Ottawa
This isn’t your problem
It isn't helpful to judge your friend. His cheating is probably a symptom, and not the cause, of marital breakdown. Don't abandon the family, but remind him that his conduct is not sustainable – he'll eventually have to recommit to the marriage, or commit to leaving it. If he disagrees with your support for his wife, he'll probably distance himself from you anyway. Try to be a friend to both, but remember this isn't your problem to solve.
Saba Ahmad, Toronto
The final word
For the record, I believe in minding your own business when it comes to people and how they conduct their relationships. If I accidently stumble upon the neighbour’s tricked-out basement that looks suspiciously like a sex dungeon, I will simply ask for the name of their decorator. They’re not hurting anyone, okay maybe themselves but it’s consensual so I don’t need to get involved.
But now your friend has confessed his infidelity without, it seems, any regret or effort to change. And given your relationship with the wife, he has involved you in a difficult, ethical dilemma.
If you tell the wife the truth, you could lose one or both of the couple.
If you support the wife and she finds out later you knew the truth, she’ll feel betrayed.
So despite all trepidations about keeping out of people’s lives, I feel that a woman has the right to know. Tiger Woods’s wife Elin could have been saved from 27 mistresses and, as Ivy has mentioned, potentially dangerous STDs, if someone had just told her about the first woman.
I agree with Saba, this isn’t your problem to solve but let’s split the difference by using Linda’s advice: Tell the husband he’s got a week to spill the beans or you’ll do it for him. I believe he’ll cough up the truth because he wouldn’t have told you if he was desperate to keep his adultery a secret. If he wanted fewer complications, he should have told his dog.
And for the record, if any of you ever find out my husband’s been unfaithful, I expect to be notified immediately. I’ll go straight to the neighbour’s dungeon to borrow a few items. And no, the screaming that you’re hearing is not consensual.
Regina-based Zarqa Nawaz is the creator of the CBC-TV sitcom Little Mosque on the Prairie.
Next week’s question
A reader writes: I've recently developed strong feelings for a close friend. We've known each other for years, and there has always been a bit of a spark, but this is the first time we’ve both been single and looking for a relationship. We've been hanging out and seem to be flirting more. How can I tell if she is interested in taking this further; and how do I talk to her about it without endangering the friendship?
Let’s hear from you
If you would like to participate, e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. All questions are published anonymously, but we will include your name and hometown if we use your response (it will be edited).