So you just found out that your bestie’s husband has been cheating on her. She is devastated, hurt, confused, angry, and feels like she is the only one in the world who this has happened to. Of all of her friends, she chose you to confide in, so watch your words very carefully. This is a very vulnerable time in her life and she really needs a friend to listen. Did you catch that? Yes, to listen.
Most of the time, we love our best friend and step right into the fix it mode with all sorts of chatter. We may say things that really hurt, all the while thinking we are helping the situation. Here are a couple of things not to say. “Did you see it coming?” Sometimes we hear the old cliche “a wife always knows”. Perhaps I am as dumb as a box of rocks, but I did not know when my husband was cheating on me. We had just renewed our vows after 25 years of marriage and our sex life was still active and fulfilling. Our children were thriving in middle school, high school, and college. We were paying all of our bills on time and were getting along well. So you accidentally say this very insensitive thing to your friend and now she is beginning to lose what little self-esteem she may be hanging onto. Her thoughts are “Why didn’t I see this coming if my friend assumed I knew on some level? Did my friend know and not tell me?” There went that last shred of dignity she may have had.
Another classic no-no is to say “Kick him to the curb! He doesn’t deserve you.” Although this is meant to show your friend solidarity, she may still genuinely love her spouse. She may have every intention of getting to the bottom of the difficulty and moving through it. If she moves gracefully through the infidelity, she may always question if your well-meaning comment was meant to show support or if when you see your friend with her husband you will always be thinking about what a schmuck he was.
A better thing to say to a friend who just found out that his wife had been cheating or her husband had been cheating would be “Oh, I am so sorry. Do you want to talk about it?” Then you simply shut up and listen. Do not interject, and do not offer advice at first. The shock of finding out what this contemptible person did will take some time to sink in.
Your friend needs to vent and work through it in her own way. Remember that God gave you two ears but only one mouth! If she does ask for advice, please don’t offer it unless you too have gone through the pain, humiliation, doubt, and trauma of an affair. The best thing you as a friend can say is “Do you have a pastor (or rabbi or priest) that you can talk to?”
If your friend is still pushing you for advice, offer it only by asking questions. When you ask a question, you are directing your friend to come up with her own conclusions. Questions that would be ok to ask are “Do you still love him?” or “Do you think you could find a place of forgiveness if he wants to work through this?” Allow your friend to process and vent. Just be a friend and listen. You won’t regret being there for her.