If you knew, would you tell?

I had the chance to go walking with a neighbour last week.  We occasionally do a good 6-7 km power walk together, and have a chance to catch up on life a little.  She knows nothing about my husband’s affair, as we moved in after it had happened, while we were in the early stages of healing.  For all she knows, we are happily married with no issues, and life is bliss.  I have no intention of ever revealing to her the actual details, because I don’t *need* her support, and because to be honest, I like the way she regards my husband, and I know that would change.  Being that we are neighbours, I don’t need us to live with tension or awkward feelings.  We quite like our neighbours, our families get along, and we often get together for dinners and special occasions.  As it stands, she doesn’t need to know.

As we walked the other day, however, we did talk about infidelity.  I had raised the issue, because I wanted her input.  We talk about a lot of issues, and girl talk, so it wasn’t out of the ordinary or obvious.  I asked her what she would do if she ever found out.  Not a moment of hesitation before she blurted out “He’s be out on his ass immediately.  He could pack up his stuff and leave”.  Just asking her to consider what she might do brought about an angry response.  The mere consideration of it got her fired up.  We talked about the staying vs. the leaving.  We talked about how the kids would fare if they knew, and whether to tell them.  We disagreed on most if not all topics discussed.  I didn’t tell her my position, I just listened to hers and noted that we were not on the same page.  A good reason to not let her in on my little secret I suppose, as she would not support my choice.

As we walked, I presented her with the hypothetical situation:  “If I knew without a shadow of a doubt that your husband was having an affair, would you want me to tell you?”

Her answer, clear as day: “Absolutely not”.  Not only was she certain of it, the mere exercise of contemplating her wishes and visualizing that reality made her angry and fiery.  She told me, in no uncertain terms, that “it is not your place to tell me.  I don’t need YOU to tell me, it would just put us in a bad place, and our relationship would suffer.  The world is small enough without me needing to hear it from YOU.  I could learn about it on my own, or hear it from someone else”.  I clarified why she felt that it would harm our relationship, and she told me, “It is a shoot the messenger kind of thing.  You would be hurting me with these details”.  I explained that I personally would want to know, and that as a friend, I would want to protect her, and take the wool off of her eyes that she was being duped, in the same way that I would tell a friend if someone else was cheating them out of money, talking behind their back, or disrespecting them.  As a friend, I would want my friend to be in control of her life, and not be under a blindfold, unaware.  She did not see things the same way.  Amyway, I told her that I personally would want to know, and that if she told me, I would thank her, not blame her for my pain, but thank her for illuminating something so important for me to take care of.  I also told her that I hoped that she would also be a support for me after dropping that bomb.

It brings about an interesting question.  Would you tell if you knew?  Would you keep it a secret?  Could you face your friend knowing that there was infidelity in her/his marriage?

I was on a plane recently, and one of the movies available to watch was “The Descendants” with George Clooney.  While I won’t get into my personal thoughts about the movie, I will say that I found it distressing that in the scene where his daughter tells him that his wife was unfaithful, and he goes running down the road to a friend’s house, in shock, asking them who this man was that his wife was sleeping with/seeing.  To my surprise, the husband and the wife, admitted knowledge, but refused to provide him with answers.  They’d both known for a while, it seemed, but when asked, neither of them were prepared to help him.  They were being loyal to the wife.  I think what shocked me was that they chose loyalty to a cheater/liar than to an innocent man, and I wondered if my friends would have done the same.

To be an accessory to an affair, and not say anything….could you remain friends knowing they knew but never told you?  Would you not feel like they’d thrown you under the bus?

I think every woman should have this discussion with her girlfriends.  In the same way that we do our best to honour the wishes of the recently parted, and we try to do what they would have wanted, we too need to know what our friends would want, if faced with this.   Make it a point of discussion, ask them, see what they would prefer, and then if/when it happens to them, you will know that you are doing the right thing by them.  Perhaps they will want you to stay quiet.  At least knowing that this is their preference will alleviate some of your guilt.  I think the discussion is an important one, don’t you?



  1. Funny, my husband and I just watched the Descendants recently and my husband told me after, that he didn’t like and didn’t really watch it. Since the affair, my husband can’t stand watching anything that involves infidelity. It gets him really mad. That’s a good sign I suppose =)

  2. dotcablogger says:

    I’ll take a risk here. I think that all women at their core want to be told.

    But being neighbours is not like what it used to be. Neighbours are expected to not be personally involved as a friend or family member with you? Maybe that’s why your neighbour is giving you the odd ball answer that she would find out on her own and doesn’t need you, if you knew, to tell her.

    Erm. I don’t think she would really support that reason of hers once she’s cheated on. She’ll feel really violated and would demand entitlement to knowing, from anyone, that she were being cheated on. Actually she would loath any person who knew and witheld info from her. She would hate those people. So it’s better to be in the moral position than not to. I mean, if she found out that a person was witholding info from her, she would feel doubly betrayed.

    I mean, if she thinks that she would find out just on her own, I don’t think she bases that on the experience and the perspective of the betrayed and lied to. She probably hasn’t been cheated on yet.

    • I agree with you 100% I think all women want to know. I think deep down, and each one of us, is just somebody who wants to be locked. And if we know that we are to be loved, we would want to get out, to fix it, to find love. Personally, I am glad I know. I’m just sorry I didn’t know sooner. i would never find fault with a friend who chose to illuminate this information for me. I would be thankful that the person cared enough about me, my integrity, to tell me the truth.

      I don’t know why my neighbor reacted the way that she did. Although I do think that neighbors nowadays are different than they have been in the past, the relationship we have with her neighbors harkens back to old times. We invite one another’s families over for dinner, we go for walks together, and when one of us pulls in the driveway, the other one goes over to have a visit.

  3. After knowing what I now know…. if some girlfriend said “No “they don’t want others interfering in their marriages with that type of information… I suspect they have cheated in the past, even if on a boyfriend…or they are cheating now or thinking about cheating and having an affair !

  4. lamehousewife says:

    this is an awesome point…I really appreciated the honesty in the approach…God bless…

  5. I would definately want to be told, my husbands affair went on for almost 3 years, I feel so stupid that I never suspected anything!! I was never the hovering, needs to know everything kind of person. My how things change, and I really dislike the non trusting person I have become, I want the old me back, hopefully someday!!

    • Doesn’t it make you feel like such an idiot? I carry this vision with me of the two of them smirking at what they were getting away with begin my back. Knowing how vile “she” is, I’m sure I was a laughing stock to her. I met her twice during the affair and I’m quite sure she left those encounters feeling better than me. I felt like an idiot.

  6. I have the same thoughts!! I don’t think my husband would let her talk badly about me(that is what he told me) my husband told her right from the start that he loved me and would never leave!! Too bad the skank whore (haha I use your same vocabulary)is so delusional she thought she had a shot at him. I just hate the fact that there are people who are so selfish they don’t think about the innocent bystanders!! PATHETIC HEADCASES FOR SURE!! I looked up that site and hoping a retreat comes pretty close I would love to go!! But I am leaving for Cancun on Thursday. Yay for me!! Can’t wait to chill in the sun!!

  7. You shouldn’t feel like an idiot!! By the sound of it he loves you enough to work through the problems and is being honest about the details!! My husband was not truthful when I confronted him, and he dragged me along for 5 months telling me they were just friends….. Haha stupid me believed him for a while but stuff just didn’t add up, it’s amazing what you can find out when you start digging around!! When you talked about never feeling on level ground, that is exactly how I feel all the time and I hate it!! I know it would still be hard, but I wish he was truthful from the start!!

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