Scandal and Betrayal! On a Monday!

 
Without divulging too much – I know, shocking that I try to use discretion – but without divulging too much I have to tell this story that’s got my head spinning.  I learned this week that a friend of mine had an affair.  Let’s call him Bob.  No no no let’s call him Joe.  No wait I’ve used that fake name before and it isn’t the same guy so: John.  John is this wildly creative guy who has more charisma than most people.  He has a marriage, which looks on the outside to be fun and rock solid.  His wife is cute as can be, and when they are together they look like they should be posing for an advertisement for love.  He has children, and they are hysterical and stylish, cute and carefree. 


John has historically been a solid figure, and more people look up to him than don’t.  I know how relationships go.  I’m not so naïve that I think you can tell what’s really happening in people’s lives from all the outward appearances.  I knew John and his wife had their share of problems but I never believed that he would ever take things so far.  I never thought he could be that dumb.  Because when it comes down to it, it is just dumb.  A person can be tempted but it takes true stupidity to lay your marriage and the lives of your children on the line for something you’ve been warned by Oprah about a million times.  These feelings and the passion tend to burn out as quickly as they fire up right?  Is it worth it?

 

Well John was that dumb, and his wife found out.  In my view of things, I do not believe an affair is anything I could ever work past.  I’m too much of a grudge holder, and for the rest of our lives every wrong thing ever done would be wrong to the tenth degree.  I couldn’t live such an angry life.  I would never wish that much anger into anyone’s life that would live with me.  But John’s wife has decided to work through it. They’re trying to make it work, for the sake of their family.   I haven’t been there, so I can’t say it’s a mistake or it’s enlightened.  It’s just a messy situation, and it makes me so sad for them.

 

And also, somehow I’ve taken this affair personally.  It doesn’t really have anything at all to do with me but it has created a change in me.  I don’t want to see John, and his opinions about things are no longer important to me.  I know it’s juvenile and possibly shortsighted of me, but for now, John cannot be my homie.  His brand of selfishness isn’t something that I want in my life.

 

But I offer this question – am I being too judgmental?  Am I being close-minded?  And is it even my place to feel so betrayed when it really has nothing to do with me?  I’m wondering if anyone has had experience, on one side or the other, that maybe would make me look at it differently.  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

 

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39 responses to “Scandal and Betrayal! On a Monday!

  1. I had friend confide in me that her husband was having an affair, she asked me not to share this info with my husband since she was afraid it would color his view of the cheating guy. I was insulted by his actions, plus I thought his wife was too kind to him, his friends should know who he really is (I’ve kept the secret for 10 years and 3 more of his affairs). Just as a person’s personality can make them more attractive, their actions can make them more ugly too.

  2. As long as it doesn’t affect your job, I believe you have the right to feel the way you do. I believe women do take things like this personally. I do not understand why men (or women) will throw away their families for a fling. I feel threatened by that utter lack of importance placed upon a family.I would leave a man that cheated on me because in this day of AIDS, you must be married to someone you can trust.A co-worker just lost his wife and new house because of an affair. I dislike him because of it. I keep my dislike to myself so that it doesn’t affect my job.

  3. WOW! That one hurts. In my humble opionion forgiveness is the key. After all haven’t we all been guilty of committing a “wrong?” Forgiveness is a powerful tool. My best friend came to visit me and while she was away her husband cheated on her and had the nerve to admit it on the phone while she was still with me. Oh the pain she went through. There were no kids involved but she decided she loved him and wanted to work it out. They did, and they are still together after 15 yrs. I have questioned her many times about how she did it. Her response was that it took a lot of time and a lot of prayer to rebuilt trust but that she loves him, they have gone to counseling and she was willing to take the chance of being hurt again because of love. I can certainly understand your position because I feel the same way. But, I have been forgiven by many for things I’ve done and I just hope that when a dear friend of mine commits a wrong and they are truly sorry for it (which I don’t recall you saying that John was) that I would be strong enough to forgive them as well. I know every situation is different and this one your dealing with is BIG! Consider forgiving though? I know, easy for me to say since I’m not in your shoes.

  4. My best friend found out recently the father of her daughter was having an affair with a co-worker. It is beyond awful and totally unforgivable. I am the same as you – if I ever see him again I’m sure he’ll need to run very quickly before I deliver him a swift kick in the —ls. So my friend wrote a letter to the Other Woman – please, please pass it on to your friend who I’m sure will find some comfort in reading it – if anything, to know she’s not alone. http://mssinglemama.com/2008/12/23/a-letter-to-the-other-woman/

  5. I find it interesting that you took “John’s” affair as an affront. I have been sitting here thinking about how we view others mistakes, and how that shapes our thoughts and feelings about our own relationships. I have a strange past, where my wife and I both had infidelities in the first 8 years of our marriage. We have now been married for 16 years, and we are closer than ever.. So it is possible to move on and to rebuild the relationship on a new foundation. The key to renewal is true repentance, the offending party has to be really sorry, and turn 180 degrees in their thoughts and actions. (Not easily done) That is the first step in rebuilding trust, which will be formed over time as the events fade into the not recent history of the relationship. I hope you never experience this, but if any of you do.. know that being married is sometimes difficult and hard doesn’t mean hopeless.

  6. Likeness matters. And it’s important to you so there’s no reason to think you’re decision is selfish or judgmental. Someone who has the kind of mindset that rationalizes that behavior as acceptable can be a source of worry; you wouldn’t want them around your family and the possibility that the their emotional infection could spread, or at least try. I think marriage is not honored enough in our country. It’s not given the respect and the care it needs to survive. It’s trashed in the media, made fun of and taken for granted. Men are given balls and chains on their wedding day, and women are made out to be classless bitches who rule with an iron fist. Nowhere do you get an idea that a rock-solid marriage is something to be proud of, to be in awe and have reverence over. Long married couples get little respect, far less than they should.And we live in a society that raises a woman (or a man) to think it’s perfectly all right to pursue and then sleep with someone who is already married, with a family. Those without this errant mindset have every right to push away the ones who think the rules don’t apply to them. I can totally see your point.

  7. bt and not dt

    While I don’t condone having an affair, neither you or I know really what it is that lead to him to make this choice. People in happy and satisfying marriages don’t have affairs. I’m not calling it out that his wife did something to cause this, but there has to have been something wrong.I’m not really sure why you feel it as a personal affront, maybe because they did seem like the perfect couple. It’s hard to accept that these things happen in people we know, because then we fear it could happen to us.I think your position in this should be to support your friend (the wife), keep your opinions to yourself, and hope that they work things out. In time you may find that your feelings toward him change and that you can once again be his friend.It’s NOT once a cheater, always a cheater. You can change and move on.

  8. It’s hard to say… I totally understand where you are coming from in wanting to stay away from him right now, and I think I would initially have the same reaction. Someone that could (a) hurt my friend like that; and (b) doesn’t have the willpower or decency to refrain from those urges and at least TRY to talk things through first (assuming he hadn’t already spoken with your friend about his urges and/ or what his dissatisfaction with their relationship was) is someone I would want to back away from, too. However, I do think that every relationship has its fair share of trials, and if we all gave up on the first chance, how many marriages would survive? Whether it be cheating, addiction, controlling, etc… we all make mistakes. In the end, you just have to back your friend up. If she thinks he’s worth a second chance and things DO work out between them, I’m sure you’ll eventually move past your initial reaction and see the things you liked about John in the first place. For now, it’s okay to keep a distance… I would too!

  9. I’ve been on every side of this unsavory issue…dated a married man, been cheated on, been unfaithful, and even had an “open” marriage. I am now monogamous and have zero tolerance for adultery. I actually had this opinion all along; I just didn’t trust myself that it was OK to hold this somewhat traditional (and healthy) viewpoint. Like you Jodi, I would find it rather difficult to maintain a friendship with this man. If we were close to begin with, and there was ongoing dialogue about forgiveness and change, that’s one thing. But as a married woman it is no longer a safe assumption that this man is honorable and friendship-worthy. Like it or not, he violated something more than the sanctity of his marriage vows. He made promises to his wife with his friends and family standing WITNESS. He vowed to be faithful to his wife AND the institute of Marriage. This is what we do when we ritualize our actions. And when someone breaks his or her word, we all suffer because we were all lied to. Bottom line, forgive to the best of your ability, be honest about how others’ actions affect you, and take it from there. A lot will depend on how this guy follows up on his “mistake.” In issues like this, alliances are made, and friendships often split along gender lines, but all for the best in my opinion. Hey, maybe this guy would take it to heart knowing just how impactful his actions were on the community. Hell, it irked me to read about it and I’m just a random stranger who heard about it through the blog of an old high school friend who is a friend of who it happened to! Them are some mighty big ripples to have reached me! Just sayin’…..

  10. I agree with you and your commenters.”I do not believe an affair is anything I could ever work past.””Hell, it irked me to read about it and I’m just a random stranger””People in happy and satisfying marriages don’t have affairs.””The key to renewal is true repentance””In my humble opionion forgiveness is the key”I KNOW that everyone is better off when sincere repentance and forgiveness takes place. I also know how very, very difficult it can be. And I am sure that it won’t necessarily save the marriage.While it’s true that adultery is a sure sign that something is lacking in a marriage, it doesn’t mean that the other party has done anything wrong. And it certainly doesn’t make the adultery less wrong. That action is a betrayal of trust. If you find you love someone else, then separate BEFORE becoming intimate with the new person. Be honest. If it’s not a case of love, but only lust, it’s not worth breaking up a relationship for something that fleeting. Trust, once broken, is a zillion times harder to get back than it was to gain in the first place. And sometimes, it’s just impossible, even if repentance and forgiveness have taken place.

  11. Relationships are very very complicated beasts. i have been on a few sides of this kind of sticky situation and have come out of it not only in a healthy, solid and strong relationship – (btw all this happened over many years, all with the same man, who i am now married to with three kids) – but in a place where i don’t judge other’s relationships, as hard and tempting as it can be. to be a good friend to the wife, would be to be as accepting of her situation and decisions as you can be so that if/when she gets back together with her husband, she can still be comfortable around you, rather then feeling embarrassed and judged.hard. i know.

  12. Yeah, I think you are being a bit judgmental. Just trying to be honest with you. I think you are justified to feel the way you do, but if your friend is forgiving her husband for the infidelity and is willing to work through it I don’t believe you have the right to judge him. Again, not that you have to like what he did, just that you have to be civil around him. That is unless you want to lose your friend, which is a distinct possibility if you do something she does not like, and feels you’re overstepping your boundaries. A lot of these questions come into play, because we do not know them, their relationship, you, or your relationship with them. Just a thought in the limited time I had to respond. Hope it might be of some help/enlightenment.

  13. I find that picture completely distracting.

  14. Whoa. Really three more affairs? That’s hard to take. You’ve put it really well will your last line. Just makes sense.

  15. I hadn’t even really considered the health aspect. And your phrase “threatened by that utter lack of importance placed upon a family” kind of gives me the words I’m looking for as well. It is the family thing that gets under my skin the most. Kids certainly pay the price for this kind of thing. That’s not fair.

  16. I have been plagued my whole life by a stunted ability to forgive. And you are right – I have committed so many “wrongs” in my time that if I was accountable to the world for them, I probably wouldn’t be well liked, either. I feel like your friend’s ability to place importance on their potential happy future rather than live in anger is a heightened state of being. That’s a place I fear I would not be able to reach. I have admiration for her. I aspire to be more like her.

  17. The feeling conveyed through that letter….I don’t even know what to say. It is amazing. And so smart and so very sad. Thanks for sharing it –

  18. “John” – Thank you. Thank you so much for helping me see a different side. You are right – it is interesting that I’ve taken this so personally. It isn’t lost on me that I’m personalizing this in a way that may be out of scale. I am so happy to read that your 16 year old marriage has triumphed. That is inspiring.

  19. Kate – I agree that we have made marriage more of a disposable thing than a permanent commitment. I love your observation of the ball and chain icons. Why is it that women who are strong and demand strength from their husbands in their commitments are seen as shrews? I don’t know. But it is something to think about.

  20. I do believe that when one person gets their needs – passion, love, excitement – out of the marriage it probably is just the result of more pieces that are missing. I agree that there must have been something wrong – of course there was. And absolutely I agree – I’m upset about this because of the effect on her, the kids, but also what it means to me. I will support her, but my opinions – oy – I guess I’ll keep them to myself by sharing them here. I do hope to be his friend again one day, because it’s unlikely he’ll be out of my life ever.

  21. Jaden – I wonder if he did try to talk things through first? My guess is that he did – in some ways. Again, I don’t pretend to know what was going on in their relationship. I have to remind myself of that and have found all these comments really helpful. Thanks for your feedback.

  22. Ooooof. Ok, so you’re forcing me to be a little more honest here. I’ve been on the other side – in a relationship where I was the one who was unfaithful. Though we weren’t married and didn’t have kids – it was still wrong. It still really hurt the guy. I’m no saint and possibly this is a mirror I don’t want to look in. I love the idea of progress in our lives, sounds like you have evolved in many of the same ways as me. This sentence: “I just didn’t trust myself that it was OK to hold this somewhat traditional (and healthy) viewpoint.” rocks. I was the same way. I am different now.So maybe that’s where the forgiveness comes into play for me. He won’t ask for it from me, he wouldn’t know to. But if you can change, I can change and possibly he can too – and maybe do right by his family from here on out.And the ripples….maybe they’ll be positive ones in the future. I’ll keep you posted.

  23. Well I think you’ve nailed it. If a relationship isn’t working, and everything has been done to repair it to no avail – then you end it. You don’t make it worse by betrayal. There’s an order to things. And messing with that order is pretty catastrophic.

  24. Hard. Yes. But undeniable in it’s truth.Thanks for giving me more perspective –

  25. How dare you? How dare you be honest with me? I jest, I jest.I think so too. I do. I do think that my opinions of what happened are skewed by my own experiences, same as always. We only feel things based on our own experiences, that’s the material we have. But it doesn’t mean that it’s wrong or right. It’s just what we have. And I do need to be mindful of how I proceed with her. I’m guessing she needs support more than anger. Good points.

  26. Well I think you look lovely in it. They captured your essence perfectly.

  27. I’ve just read your post and haven’t had time to read all the comments so excuse me if I’m repeating what someone has already said. As the child of parents whose marriage ended after an affair, it took me years to understand that it wasn’t just my philandering father’s fault. My mother had a decent amount to do with the dissolution of that marriage. and as one half of a functional relationship, i know it takes two to make it work and two to eff it up. so while you’re not exactly wrong, you’re not exactly right either.

  28. Oh man I think you just summed up my entire life with your last sentence!Thank you – the heart of the matter for me is the kids, that’s what makes my head spin. I put Roan in their place and wonder what changes it would make in him. So I appreciate -so much – your perspective, your experience. And you couldn’t be more right. It takes two to eff it up. No doubt.

  29. Sometimes, all it takes to mess up a relationship is a lying, cheating person with a sense of entitlement which includes the perspective that there is no reason they should not have whatever they want.

  30. I find that sometimes I am judgemental of people my friends have already forgiven. So, in a way, I feel you, Jodi, are definitely justified to be angry and judgemental of John.I don’t think you will lose her as a friend over this. You’re being judgemental of John because you care about your friend and her well-being. How can she fault you for that?

  31. I don’t think you’ve taken it too personally or in a juvenile way. It’s disappointing and angering to see someone treated poorly. It’s even more so when you thought better of the transgressor. There are heaps of things wrong with attempting to “solve” issues by having an affair.

  32. It can’t be wrong or right, because it’s the way you FEEL. How you act is a different story. Personally, I don’t want other people’s idiocy define my person. But your feelings? Your feelings are just there.

  33. It really isn’t anyone’s business but theirs. We’ve all made decisions in life that we wish we could take back. We’ve all been faced with challenges we wished we would’ve handled differently. One day, you might stare your weakness in the face and have to make a difficult decision. If you make the wrong decision, would you want others to judge you? Rather than be judgmental, perhaps you should be supportive of their decision to overcome their marital challenge.

  34. I’ve been in the marriage situation (many years ago) but I’ve also recently felt “betrayed” by a co-worker, in a work situation (not a romantic one), and I’m surprised that I feel the same way that you do, just as strongly. I’m trying hard to work through this because I’ll continue to work with this person and will need this person’s expertise and cooperation. The John you thought you knew is not the John that you’re seeing now. You have feelings for John and for his wife and children. And now their world and your world – it’s very much the same world – is no longer the same. So you’re upset. If you feel betrayed, perhaps you need to wonder why you feel that strongly. (I’m wondering that.) But it’s ok to wonder if you’re wrong for not having seen something coming. You’re wondering if you were misled, deceived, naïve. You’re wondering what about this might be reflective of you. And you are hurt, because your other friend, John’s wife, is hurt. Those feelings are OK, in my book. And I think that it’s OK to step back and see what transpires. Because what transpires will help you sort out the feelings you have.In the meantime you have to do what _feels_ right. Go to John’s wife if that feels right. Stay away if that feels right. Remember that this genie can’t be put back in the bottle, and it’s changed not only you but John and his family. Be sure that you see John and his family as they are now, and do what your heart tells you is right: right for you, where you are, and right for them, where they are.

  35. “lay your marriage and the lives of your children on the line” – OK, obviously having an affair has the potential to destroy your marriage–assuming you have a traditional, monogamous marriage. But the lives of your children? Even if the parents split up, the lives of the children are not “on the line”–this is not driving into a wall, here, it’s infidelity. Which has absolutely nothing to do with the kids. Do the kids even know? If so, I’m sure it’s tough for them to deal with, but they’re learning a lesson that we all have to learn–probably a few: Even adults can make big mistakes; people who love us sometimes do things that hurt us; and (hopefully) people really can change. To me, having an affair (or even seriously considering it) looks like a warning sign that a relationship should end–but I know that’s not the case for every relationship. I understand that you feel like your friend betrayed your trust, and you might feel hurt, but I agree it’s judgmental to think he’s a bad person because of this. It’s not really any of your business. And I suspect that the reason it freaks you out so much is that it makes you consider your own situation. And yes, I’ve been cheated on, and it sucks. I have a friend whose husband had an affair, and they’ve decided to stay together, and I think no less of her husband.Also, I think we have to consider that many people have affairs not only because of physical attraction, but also because of some real personal connection. Again, I think if that’s the case, you shouldn’t be married/committed–or you should be in an open relationship–but, as many commenters here have said, for some, an affair is something you can work through.Anyway, I enjoy your blog, and love your photography. Thank you!

  36. There’s actually an interesting movie on this topic, “Dinner With Friends,” that touches on the betrayal that both people in the noncheating couple feel about their friends’ breakup.

  37. A good friend of mine was in an unhappy marriage for a long time and decided to end it by cheating on her husband with her married boss. She kept it a secret from me for a long time, but somehow I guessed long before her husband ever wised up. As soon as it came to light (and doesn’t it always?) she began pushing the new guy on her eight-year-old. She never saw her daughter without the new dude hanging around in the background, trying to ingratiate himself. The way she handled it—especially regarding her kid—pretty much ended our friendship. Though they’re still together, the new guy has proven himself to be a near-pathological liar. Shocking nobody but my now-ex-friend. I could stand by her when she was leaving the marriage and even getting involved with a super-shady guy, but the way she treated her kid—and absolutely refused to even entertain the idea of therapy for the child—made me sick. If that makes me judgmental, I’m ok with that.

  38. Ok. The very same thing happened to me. My good friend’s husband cheated on her and they stayed together. She was pregnant at the time. It was very hard for me to stay non-judgemental. he eventually distanced herself from me. They are still married (happily I hope…they had another child). I’ve learned from this situation to show more grace and realize that we all make mistakes. I just hope and pray that I won’t be faced with the same situation. I don’t know if I could show and give the grace needed to my husband!

  39. hmmm, I’ve been married, divorced, engaged now… 5 kids… I try to never be quick to judge and I also am a firm believer that while infidelity is never acceptable…there is always a reason…that involves BOTH people. I just had this conversation with a friend earlier… statistically men don’t necessarily have affairs with “hotter” women…often times it is about a “need” perceived or real that they feel is not being met. Open communication and attempting to fullfill needs, one to the other is paramount.

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