Dear Prudence

The Unfaithful Friend

My closest confidant slept with my husband—should I confront her?

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Dear Prudence,
Last summer, my husband and I rented a house with another couple for two weeks. We’ve all been close friends for many years, and I considered the wife to be my best friend. Recently my husband confessed to having slept with her once during our vacation, after we’d all had too much to drink and the other husband and I had gone to sleep. He begged me not to reveal to my friend that he told me, since, of course, they had sworn themselves to secrecy. I have forgiven my husband for being stupid. I know that he loves me and has no intention of repeating what happened, but my feelings toward my friend are very ambivalent. If I can forgive my husband, I should also be able to forgive her, but this is difficult because I can’t talk things out with her without giving away my husband. It’s also very hard for me to maintain our formerly close friendship knowing about this breach of trust. Should I just try to forgive and forget, or spill the beans and possibly wreck a longtime four-way friendship?


Dear Ambivalent,
I admire that you are a forgiving and understanding person, but your best friend didn’t forget your birthday; she slept with your husband! I accept this is a one-time event—a brew of booze, bathing suits, and balmy breezes—and there was no reason for your husband to confess except an inability to live with his guilt. Your husband’s disclosure and promise that it won’t happen again allowed you to forgive him. But you don’t know if your friend shares your husband’s shame, or if she thinks of their tryst as a secretly thrilling interlude. Since you’ve had no acknowledgement of wrongdoing from your friend, the burden falls on you to try to maintain the relationship as it was, and you’re understandably finding it a heavy one. Your husband’s confession was commendable, but it came with its own bit of manipulation: his plea that you not let your friend know he violated their pact. While he can ask you to keep the secret, you’re free to decide what’s best both for your marriage and yourself. Perhaps you’ll want to inform your husband that you need to discuss this with your friend. You can tell her you know what happened and that you won’t say anything to her husband, but you can no longer live with the pretense. It could be that over time, your pleasure in their company will outweigh the pain of the betrayal, but you shouldn’t feel coerced into continuing the friendship because putting on a front makes it so much easier on the cheaters.


Dear Prudence Video: Abandoned Kitty

Dear Prudence:
My wife and I have been married for a year and lived together before that. Even though she works full time, she cooks for us about four nights a week, which would be wonderful except that her cooking devastates my digestive system. So much so that the day after one of her meals, I spend roughly half of my workday in the men’s room. I am a partner in a large law firm; taking meetings in the bathroom is not acceptable. I have tried getting her to stop cooking by saying it’s not fair for her to have to come home from work and prepare a meal. But cooking is a hobby of hers. She loves cookbooks and always watches the Food Network. She says cooking is a release for her. How do I tell my wife that her continued cooking will eventually kill me, or get me fired, without hurting her feelings or disturbing our otherwise storybook marriage?

—Pepto Tussin, Esq.

Dear Pepto,
If this goes on, you could be inspired to write your own storybook: Men Are From Mars, My Wife’s Cooking Is From Uranus. You say cooking is a release for your wife, but if her culinary efforts keep your release valve permanently open, something has to be done. Since you say your wife loves to watch the Food Network, she surely is a fan of Iron Chef, so I’m wondering if there is some secret ingredient she uses constantly that is the source of your distress. Maybe you can’t take dairy products, or her food is too spicy. I’m also curious as to whether you actually get sick only following a dinner made by her. Since she cooks so frequently, it could be that you have some kind of disorder like irritable bowel syndrome, and while you’re ascribing your symptoms to eating her food, you might just have a chronic condition that needs treating. Try keeping an evacuation diary and monitor what you eat and how it affects you. Also stop doing the two-step around this subject and simply tell your wife you’re having a physical problem; surely she has a gut feeling that something’s wrong. Instead of informing her she’s killing you, explain that your bowels are in an uproar and you don’t know whether it’s linked to your home kitchen or has some other cause. Then make an appointment to see your doctor, who should help you figure out the bottom line.


Dear Prudence:
Recently, our front yard was the site of a tragedy when a young driver on his way home from a celebration crashed his car into our tree. I was unable to free him from the car and spoke to him as he died waiting for an ambulance. Since then, his family and friends have made our yard into a memorial site: flowers, teddy bears, signs posted on the tree. I have seen similar displays along highways and public thoroughfares and wonder when is the appropriate time for me to remove it? Is there a protocol that should govern my timing? I would hate for this young man’s family (whom we do not know) to think we are dishonoring his memory. But our yard is small, and the materials have started to show weathering. What is our responsibility?


Dear Perplexed,
What a ghastly, wrenching experience for all concerned. Go out now and purchase a decent-looking storage box and put all the memorabilia into it. Write a letter to the parents saying what a brave young man their son was, how much it grieves you that his life was cut short, and that you wanted them to have these items which his friends and loved ones placed as a memorial. You could mail it to them, or if you’re comfortable doing it, it would be a kind gesture to contact them and say you’d like to hand it over personally. It’s likely they’ll express their gratitude, but if they don’t, remember these people are in agony right now, and over time they will appreciate your thoughtfulness.


Dear Prudie,
I have a marketing problem. It seems that since the economy has taken a downward slide, many of my friends and customers have turned to enthusiastically selling multilevel marketing products. I find that I am getting pitched every time we meet for lunch, go shopping, or have a cocktail. I have been presented with energy drinks, vitamins, phone services, and travel companies, to name a few. I have also been told by some of my customers that if I don’t support them in their new business venture, I can plan on not getting any future business from them. I believe these people are being taken advantage of and their excitement is only temporary, as they are riding the high of what was promised to them for potential earnings. How can I tell my friends and customers that I do not support multilevel marketing schemes and I don’t want to hear about their newest business opportunity?

—Please Stop the MLM Madness

Dear Madness,
With your friends, you need to say you wish them the best, but like everyone else, you’re on a tight budget and simply can’t purchase these items from them. If they press you, say you’re being approached all the time, and you’ve just had to make a blanket decision in order to keep yourself from going broke. As for your clients, I’m assuming you actually provide a useful and necessary service to them. How nice that they want to exploit that to coerce you into buying useless and unnecessary products. It’s up to you to decide if a firm refusal is the best way to go, or if being more flexible would be better for you. If it’s the former, explain to them you understand how tough it is out there, but you hope to keep them as customers because they value what you offer, and that one way you keep your prices competitive is not going off your budget. If it’s the latter, you can consider buying their junk a cost of doing business. But before you sign up, explain that you are able to spend only a specific amount of money and will not go beyond that.