'My friend's husband is cheating, do I tell her?'

'My friend's husband is cheating, do I tell her?'
Telling a friend that her husband is cheating on her will hurt her, but is it the right thing to do?
PHOTO: The Star/Asia News Network

"Dear Thelma" is a relationship advice column that appears in The Star, a publication that is part of the Asia News Network.

Dear Thelma

When I was single, I met Mr J at a club. I liked him very much and we got along well for years.

Then Mr J got distracted by a new female member and they got married in a year.

Later, Mr and Mrs J introduced a divorced man into the club. We did not get along. He and Mrs J spent too much time together against my liking and moral sensibilities.

Years later, I left that club and joined Club #2 where I met a man working there and we got married. My husband's "colleague" Mr X and his wife are people I respect. From time to time we have meals together and Mrs X has become a close friend.

One day, I met a fellow member from Club #1 at a food court. We didn't mean to gossip but as soon as I enquired about Mr J's health, her tongue started wagging.

Naturally, I got upset when I was informed that Mrs J and Mr X from Club #2 were behaving like close buddies at Club #1. My friend told me this because of her moral obligation, and also because she knew I was now at Club #2.

I have been observing Mr and Mrs X at the club. I do not like the way Mr X speaks to his wife nor the way he talks about Mrs X when she is not around. I have seen Mr X's sour expression concerning Mrs X. I also dislike Mr X because he tends to take me for granted. If I do not laugh at his jokes or I ignore his crude suggestions, he scowls at me.

This is my problem. I am facing a dilemma about what to do.

At first, I told myself that Mr X's unfaithfulness is not my concern. Let other people warn Mrs X - just as I did not inform Mr J about his wife's activities at Club #1.

Mrs X has grown dear to me. She is clueless about her husband's unfaithfulness. As a friend, should I tell her? Am I wrong to remain silent?

I do not want to tell my husband because Mr X can "terminate" his services.

The last time I met Mrs X, she was in tears. Her dog of seven years had died. She telephoned me for comfort. She came to my house for a chat.

With such a delicate heart, I really don't want to hurt her by telling her about her husband's other activities. When her mother died a year ago, she wept for months.

There is another problem. Mrs X has grown closer to me because she had heard from her colleague, who was my neighbour when I was single, that I am a trustworthy and reliable person who won't betray those she befriends.

Well, yes, but where Mr X and Mrs J are concerned, am I being dishonest?

- Dilemma

Dear Dilemma

It is, indeed, a very difficult position that you are in.

Mrs X is not just a client at the club. She is a friend. Or, at least, she has considered you a friend. She confides in you. She trusts you.

So, how much do you expand that trusting relationship? Do you limit it to your relationship via Club #2? Or, do you consider it more than just what is at Club #2 and move into her personal life?

That question aside, how do you manage this very sticky situation where there is possible infidelity by Mr X?

And then, of course, there is the precarious situation involving you and your husband and your jobs. You do not want anything jeopardising your livelihood.

What to do?

The first thing you should think about is your welfare. Whatever you do, there should not be any negative effect on you and your life - your job and your husband's.

The second thing is your relationship with Mrs X. How much do you value it? How much do you value her? Do you think you will continue to have a relationship with her if things change between her and Mr X? Are you willing to risk her ending her relationship with you?

The right thing to do here, of course, is to tell Mrs X about her husband's "relationship" with Mrs J. There is only speculation about that relationship - no one can know for sure if it is anything more than what can be observed. But still, if you notice that Mr X's attitude towards Mrs X has changed, she should know and therefore make a decision about her relationship with him.

Of course, doing the right thing may not mean that it is the best thing to do. Your action may get any kind of different response. Mrs X may thank you and the two of you may enjoy a deep friendship.

She may just as well tell you that you are jealous of her and want to break up her marriage and never speak to you again. She may refuse to believe you and choose, instead, to end her relationship with you. She may even get you fired.

Of course, there is a possibility that if it is discovered that you spilled the beans there will be repercussions from Mr and Mrs J as well as Mr X. It is potentially very messy.

So, you have a lot to think about. And, there will be consequences.

No one can blame you if you decide you do not want to tell her. She will probably eventually find out. You can always just be there to comfort her.

Or, you can send her an anonymous letter or e-mail. Start a new and anonymous e-mail account which cannot be traced to you. In the e-mail or letter, provide details of what you have heard and send it to her.

If she replies to you, or not, you do not have to know if you do not want to. You can decide to reply or not if she asks you, via e-mail to the new account you created, to provide evidence or to justify your claims.

You can feign ignorance of this message you send her. She may talk to you about it. You can choose to "advise" her or to just listen. Whatever it is, you know you have done your best. The rest is up to her. She never has to know you sent her the message. Unless, of course, you choose to tell her some day. You do not have to.

There is a saying that you will know when something is the right thing to do based on how hard it is. This is a very hard situation. You know what the right thing to do is. Perhaps, you can find solace in the fact the most important person in this whole thing - you - will and can be protected while doing the right thing.

Of course, you have options. Perhaps more than what has been laid out here. Think about it. Ultimately, it is your decision that truly matters.

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