What happened four years ago that I am thinking about telling my friend is that her cheating husband came ’round my house a few times, on small pretexts. My kids were always around until one day they weren’t, and on that day he tried to get hold of me and kiss me and get his hand under my top. I pulled away, firmly reminding him that he was married to my good friend and that I wasn’t interested. He said a few things like how much he liked me, what a lovely person I am, and blah, blah, blah, but then he left. After that, he also found me walking through my neighborhood (by calling my house and asking my then 18-year-old daughter where I was!). He was in his car and, again, he tried to pull me in for a kiss, through the open car window. I was even more shocked than on the first occasion, and I once again got out of his way, while reminding him of his lovely wife and children. He even said “Forget about J*****!.” After that he just called ’round to the front door of the house to invite me to a party they were having and also to say “Please don’t tell J*****.”
Anyway, I felt disgusted; it was not flattering but insulting to me that he could think he might just have an affair or whatever he envisioned with his wife’s good friend. I felt totally creeped out, worried for quite a while, and always looking out for his car. I hate to see him if he’s home when I am at their house. And now, since my friend has been telling me all about their problems, he and his behavior are so much on my mind.
Do you think it would be the wrong thing to tell my friend what happened, now that so much time has passed? And, even if it’s not what you personally would do, is it a reasonable decision? — Hit On By Her Husband
The time to tell your friend that her husband hit on you (multiple times) would have been when it happened four years ago, but you didn’t tell her then. As you said, a friend advised you not to and you believed your friend’s marriage to be stable and not worth upsetting when she had young children at home. Fair enough. Maybe you also felt like she wouldn’t have believed you, or, if it came down to your word against her husband’s word, she’d choose to believe the person she was building a life and raising children with. And now you have reason to think that scenario has changed and that maybe your friend would not only believe your word over her estranged husband’s, but she might also use the information to make a more informed decision about leaving him.
I still wouldn’t tell her, though, and here’s why: by admitting that you sat on this information for four years and said nothing and did nothing, you risk alienating your friend at a time when she might especially need you. You say you want to tell her because, if the tables were turned, you’d want to know, but you probably mean that you’d want to know when the shit went down…not four years after the fact. If I discovered that a good friend had potentially game-changing information in regards to my personal life and she waited years to share it, I’d feel betrayed, embarrassed, and like I couldn’t really trust her, no matter what good reasons she might have had for keeping the information from me all that time. Maybe it’s unfair, but, by sharing that you’ve kept the husband’s secret for four years, you run the risk of looking compliant or like you were protecting HIM all this time rather than protecting your friend. You run the risk of looking, in the eyes of your friend, no more trustworthy than her philandering husband.
Of course, just because you run these risks doesn’t mean the risks will be realized. The flip side is that your friend is grateful, or at least better informed to make a decision to leave her husband. But even then, that still doesn’t guarantee that her trust in you will remain intact. Or that she won’t be angry that you kept the secret from her for so long.
The truth is, if the husband is as awful as he seems and your friend is already considering leaving him, I doubt that the information you have is going to be a deciding factor in the decision. There are likely LOTS of other examples of his transgressions and dirtbag ways. He has probably been a bad husband in countless scenarios that have led to your friend finally admitting that she’s very unhappy. If her being very unhappy isn’t enough to persuade her to leave, than there’s probably a pretty big pull the husband has that some 4-year-old bit of information would do little to break anyway. What it is more likely to do is affect your friend’s trust in YOU.
So, I would leave it. And I would focus instead on being a good support person to your friend as she rides the waves of her rocky marriage and decides how best to move on for herself and her children.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.