My cousin’s husband is cheating on her and she has no idea.
He and I have been close friends since university days and the years since. I’m the one who introduced him to my cousin. (She and I grew up in a close extended family).
Initially, I only knew that he’d started to travel more for work. Over a lunch together a month ago, he casually mentioned that he’d met a work colleague at an off-site company meeting and she was “a firecracker.”
I didn’t think about it then, assuming he meant she was great at her job and good for the company.
Maybe because I didn’t react, he then felt free to mention her again the next time we talked on the phone. He said that they were going to meet again in the near future.
I still thought it was business-related. But the third time this woman’s name came up was over drinks one recent evening, at my place.
He took me aside and said he was soon going on a Las Vegas getaway, supposedly with guys from work, but actually with this woman.
I almost choked on my drink.
I couldn’t believe he’d tell me this in my home, with both our wives just one room away, and knowing that I’m a first-cousin to the woman he’s telling lies to while having an affair.
I feel sick about it, and stumped about what to do.
If I tell my cousin, she may hate me as the messenger of horrible news. She may insist on a divorce that’ll break up their family which includes two children under age eight.
But if I don’t tell her, it feels like I’m giving him a license to cheat. She’ll then hate me if she ever discovers he’s cheating, and learns that I knew.
Is there any way to handle an information bomb without hurting everyone?
Cousin in the Middle
Get out of the middle and tell your cousin’s husband that either he must end the affair and get marriage counselling with his wife, or you’ll have to reveal his betrayal to her and their children.
Yes, it’s heavy duty, but your other two options both make you complicit in his deceit.
The very injured party that matters is your cousin, not you.
If warning her husband of exposure does get the couple to get marital help, then you’ve done a favour for them and their kids.
If, instead, they break up, she may have difficulty with your knowing about his cheating even for a short time, but will likely come to understand that you did the responsible thing in this situation.
Likely, you and this man won’t be friends in the future, unless he and your cousin stay together in a better union that benefits from their marriage therapy.
But how can you be friends with someone who had no difficulty telling you that he’s playing fast and loose with an important relative of yours?!
Warn him with a deadline: He tells her within a couple of days and cancels the Las Vegas trip, or you will tell her what you know.
(Note: Given your long friendship, his dumping this information on you may even have been a weird cry for attention and help to get out of something he hasn’t felt able to control).
He needs to be outed to his wife so the two can deal with what it means to them.
FEEDBACK Regarding night-time “freedoms” for young teenagers wanting to hang out together outside (Nov. 7):
Reader – “Where I live, teens under 16 aren’t allowed out between midnight and 6:00am.
“For today’s younger teens (14/15) I suggest 11:00pm as their curfew if hanging around outside. There’s too much stupid stuff kids can get into late at night.
“My daughters weren’t allowed to hang out at malls/plazas, fast-food places or parks, especially after dark. They could go for a bite to eat or shop, but not spend hours there.
“We had an open-door policy for all friends, boys and girls, to gather in our Rec room. We made sure we knew the parents and the parents knew us.
“Soon, hanging out on the street got pretty boring and the Rec rooms were a better choice - warm, dry, lots to eat and drink, music, lots of laughs and chatter.
“Building up trust is important.”
Tip of the day:
A cheater who brags to you should be warned of being outed, if you know the spouse.