11 June 2009

Q&A: Get Involved?

I got a great question from a friend of mine a few weeks ago that I have been wanting to use. I have pretty strong feelings about this, but I'm interested in other opinions. If you have one, please share!

**P.S. Writer of this question: I do plan on responding to your email sometime in the next century. I've been waiting until I had a substantial amount of time to respond, and apparently that has not occurred yet. I'm really sorry. I will be getting back to you, though. :)

Here goes...

Q: I have a friend whose husband does a lot of things that she doesn't know about and I am sure that if she knew, there would be big problems. Should I get involved and tell my friend or should I stay out of it completely?

A: First off, this makes me sick to my stomach. Completely, absolutely sick inside. Ugh.

Okay, now that I got that part out, I'll move on to the answer.
This is such a huge dilemma between look the other way or talk to your friend. Both come with some guilt...one for not getting involved, the other for not minding your own business. There are a lot of things to consider with this one...

First of all you need to take into account that your relationship with your friend might possibly change. What if you talk to her and she doesn't want to hear it? That could possibly make things weird for the two of you.

I know a lot of people would say "it's none of my business," or "I need to just stay out of it." And that is true to a certain degree.


I also believe that we have a certain responsibility to each other, especially as friends, to look out for each other, to give advice, to cry with each other, and also to tell our friends the hard things every once in a while that they need to hear. Like "Hey Suzy Q, it hurts my feelings when you constantly interrupt me. I just wanted you to know." Maybe Suzy Q never realized she did that, but because of a good friend she can make changes.

So what am I trying to say... umm...

I'm trying to say that I would tell her. I would maybe meet her for dessert at Ruth's Chris Steak House to have a little heart to heart (wink wink inside joke :). Or maybe I would write her a letter. And I would say to her, "do with this what you want. Once I tell you, it's out of my hands. But I care about you, and I think there are some things you need to know." This will likely not be the most pleasant conversation. But I really really really really think it would be the right choice. At least for me. I don't know. Pray about it first. See if you can get some guidance that way.

But can you imagine being in her shoes? Can you imagine your husband doing things you didn't know about, things that would devastate you, things that everyone around you knew about, but you didn't know? Can you imagine how that would feel? Would you want to know?

I sure would.

Which is why I would end up talking to her. Because I know that if I was in her position, I would really appreciate having a friend like that.

I'm sure there are people out there who disagree with me. I'd love to hear your thoughts... (though can we keep it at least cordial? I know you can do it!)


April said...

Beautifully said Nikki!! I agree!

So, How's it going with clients? I bet you are just amazing! Let's get together soon girl! Miss ya!

THE HAGES said...

I agree with you Nikki. If it were my husband and I am sure I am going to get the Ruths Chris phone call tonight. J/K I would want to know. I also would hope I have good enough friends that would fill me in. If you know something and dont have the guts to say it then write a letter but dont leave your friend in the dark.

Francesca said...

I agree that a letter would be best instead of talking in person. That would give time for the friend to wade through her emotions privately and decide what to do with the information.

Hmm... said...

I agree with you, Nikki, especially the part about "can you imagine what it would be like..." Really, could you picture what it would do to the trust in the friendship (and perhaps humanity in general, depending on the severity of the wound) if you found out that everyone knew (not to mention the embarassment).

There's something else to consider, I think. Instead of telling the wife (in this case), I think it's more important to tell the husband that you know, and that he needs to fess up. Sure that's WAY uncomfortable for you and him, but imagine how much easier it will be for them to rebuild trust if he owns up to it to her rather than she discovers through back channels. Who knows...maybe he's about to come clean, and you telling her could blow that process.

So, my vote is to tell the husband that you know (uncomfortable, I know, but is this about you or your friend's marriage?), give him time to tell her, then tell her yourself after that time has passed.

I'm a marriage/family therapist that has worked with countless couples in this situation, and trust me, it's SO MUCH easier to rebuild trust if the person harboring the secret owns up to it and tells their partner on their own rather than if the partner finds out some other way.

Caroline said...

I agree with Hmm.. said. What great advice! That is something I would have never thought of doing. If the husband still refuses to tell his wife, then I would definitely do as Nikki recommended (great advice Nikki). Yes, it is our duty to be there for our friends even through the difficult times. I know that if it were my friend, I would admire and respect her much more for having said something, and in fact it would make my friendship with her all the stronger as I would know that she truly did care about me and that she was someone who was very trustworthy.

a_girl said...

I agree but disagree -- is that possible?

My best friend of 18 years --- her husband kept flirting and being sexual in front of me. I told her once when we were teens and once right before her wedding....... she kicked me out of her wedding --- invited me as a regular guest... but I have never heard from her since. :(

I still cannot get over it.

The Dobrons said...

My mom was once in a similar circumstance and she went to the husband and said, you tell her or I will. Yikes!

Anonymous said...

I now see that you should find SOME way to tell your friend - no matter what the negative consequences are or however mad that person will get at you who is forbidding you to tell her : ). Because you'll always have this feeling of having a good friend that you can never truly get close to because there's always "this thing" in the way. But it's so hard to get involved because you don't want to ruin this poor friend's happy world! Cmon! Just don't lie spouses! Haha

Hmm... said...

Anonymous above: it's not about you -- it's about your friend's marriage. And you didn't ruin it. Her husband did. You're just the messenger. So let him start trying to put it back together by letting him know you're going to spill the beans if he doesn't. Give him a chance to either redeem himself or prove that he's really a jerk. Either way, his true colors will show through and your friend will see what her husband is made of.

Anonymous said...

So here's what I think, whether you care or not...

I think that it should depend on the situation. Could you ask questions like, does this really matter in the big picture? Or who is this harming now and who would it harm if you told her?

Here's why. I have friends that are now married that I've known since their first date. I remember while they were dating the guy kept a few truths from the girlfriend about other female relationships he had. He wasn't cheating or anything, but the way he acted around the other girls I know no girlfriend would approve.

Then they got married. I know other instances where he has made sure not to tell his wife certain things. Witnessing the situation I would always think to myself, I would be so upset if my husband was like that - I would feel he was being dishonest and how could I trust him?

But I never told her anything. Sometimes she still brings up stories about when we all were dating and I think, oh if you only knew the other side of that story.

But you know what I figure now? Would it really help them any to tell her? Or am I just upset because in my mind I would want it a differnt way? Of course, you always think - If I were in her place I'd want to know. But you know what, you aren't in her place.

Every person has different needs and reactions. Because of this every couple has a different set of dynamics. Which is why some relationships work and some do not.

So I think more than the, how would I feel in her place, we should consider the, how will this really benefit their relationship.

Obviously if there is something seriously wrong she should know. And in that case I think it could be a good move to talk to the husband first. That process could help their relationship as a couple and yours as friends.

In the end of course, as Nikki said, prayer is a good route. Just remember to listen carefully for the right answer, not just think because you prayed all things are on your side.

Tiffani said...

IN high school I T.A's for my biology teacher and she was totally cool, and all the guys thought that she was hot--she was.

Anyways, I babysat for her one night and while I was at her house after the kids had gone to bed there was a knock on her door. At the door was a man who's wife was having an affair with my teachers husband...drama! This man, after telling me the gist of it handed me a letter to give to my teacher.

When the couple came home from their date, my teachers husband drove me home. When he got to my house I told him what had happened at the door, handed him the letter and told him that he needed to tell his wife. I didn't think that I should be involved.

After I got inside, our windows were open and I heard this guy yell from his car--oops!

So Monday morning I get to my teacher's class and casually asked how the rest of her weekend went...no drama mentioned, things were great!

At this point, I was torn. I had given the husband the opportunity to do the right thing and my teacher needed to know so I told her what had happened.

She confronted him and I know that they are now divorced. I have often wondered if the result would have been different if he had been the one to own up to his mistake.

Wow that was long. I guess what I am trying to say is that the person doing the questionable activities should be the one you confront so that they can handle it but if they don't by all means, spill the beans!

Anonymous said...


Just a side note. I love reading your blog and I can appreciate the fact that the majority of people reading this might be female. I just would like to point out that it isn't always the wife who needs to be told. I recognize that the stats show that men have more issues, but maybe use a bit more ambiguity when referencing sexes. There still are some great dudes in the world :)

Anonymous said...

True story #1: my best friend found out that her son was gay. This truth came out when he was about...sophomore year of college. She was devastated mostly b/c it turns out that everyone in their high school, including dear friends of hers (she taught in the same school district) knew and she did not. She wished someone had told her. I don't now if she's ever gotten past that she was the last to know.

True story #2: I had a friend (use the term loosely) who worked for years as a personal aid to a very rich woman. Very. High society & all that goes with it. I know that _____ covered for her employers affair for 3 years. I also know that there were quite a few dirty tricks involved, including using a - I don't know what they are called! - agency? dirty tricks experts? who left a false paper and other trail to keep the spouse being cheated on off balance. Listening to this crap was gag-inducing. I worked with this woman in a church calling and it was, maybe, the darkest time in my life as far as church callings go. Lesson learned here...sometimes things are not always what they seem. Rare, but true. Facts speak truth. Be careful when we accuse.

True story #3: A dear mother-in-arms once came to me at church and said, your son was drinking at a high school party last night, sorry I have to be the one to tell you, but if it were me, I would want to know. Of course I wanted to know. I praise her name to this day that she told me. I took action, etc. I have almost never 'told' on a child or an adult but sometimes...you gotta open your mouth, if you are a friend.

I'd drop the idea of dessert at Ruth's, though. I couldn't eat after that news. Try a park bench. Why waste a perfectly good piece of cheesecake?

Nikki said...

Male Anonymous:

Thanks for the reminder that there are still great dudes in the world. :) I forget about that some (most) of the time. And I don't even think about my biased pronoun usage. I think I used the husband being the liar in this example because the person who emailed me the question was in a real life situation where the husband was the one keeping secrets. So I was specifically responding to her question... :)

Thanks for the reminder, though!

But why are you anonymous? Are you embarrased that you're male and are reading my blog? Haha. I would love to know who you are... :)

Cory said...

No worries. I wasn't trying to be critical, just thought I'd add my two cents :)

I love your blog(s). Always have. Sorry for doing it anonymous, it was easier to click then to write in my name. Your next blog should be why men are so lazy :)

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