Tit for Tat

27 Feb

Dear LetterBalm: A couple of years ago, my friend found out her husband had been having an affair. He ended it. Instead of taking steps to improve her marriage and go into joint counseling, she went to online dating sites and now maintains several affairs of her own. She claims this has helped her and her husband reconcile. She claims she’s hurting no one, that she feels “in control” of her marriage and that she thrives on being desired by several men. I think she’s nuts and running a risk of everything blowing up in her face. How can I reach her?

–In Disbelief

Remember when betrayed wives ripped up their husbands’ shirts and threw everything out the bedroom window? The Internet certainly has made marital revenge more … well, vengeful. Your friend has gone way beyond the bounds of retaliation, and, indeed, her marriage could explode. Doesn’t she remember how angry and agonized she was when her husband’s indiscretion was found out? And, if children are involved, what will they think about a mother who has had several ongoing love affairs? Ms. L.B. advises that you give your no-holds-barred opinion privately just once and tell your friend you are extricating yourself from this ticking time bomb:

Julia, I’ve kept quiet about your marriage all this time. I listened as a good friend and consoled you when Manny had his affair and it broke your heart. Now, after careful reflection, I must tell you what I think. You’ve allowed your pain to turn into revenge. You’re in serious danger of destroying your life, Manny’s life and the lives of your children. It’s one thing to have an affair as Manny did — and, he broke it off. It’s quite another to have several lovers in ongoing affairs. If all this comes to light – and, you’ve got to know that there’s a very good chance it will – how will this affect Manny? Your kids? I’m begging you as a friend to stop all this and seek couples counseling. I’m telling you now that I’m washing my hands of the situation. Don’t come to me with your marital secrets and complaints because I’m done. I’ll always love you as a friend, but you have to work things out for yourself. I hope for everyone’s sake, you do.

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