What hap­pened in Ve­gas is now hit­ting home

The Washington Post Sunday - - ADVICE & PUZZLES - Carolyn Hax

Hi, Carolyn: A num­ber of months ago my wife went on a ladies’ trip to Ve­gas with four friends — all mar­ried. Friends A, B and C “ hooked up” with men they met. It also came out that friend A has been main­tain­ing a long-dis­tance af­fair for a num­ber of years and was en­cour­ag­ing friend B to fol­low suit with the guy she had met.

My wife and I were out to din­ner re­cently with friend D and her hus­band and this all came out. We all get to­gether as cou­ples fairly of­ten and my wife and friend D had been ret­i­cent to say any­thing be­cause they didn’t want to ruin the group dy­namic. Af­ter much dis­cus­sion, it was de­cided it wasn’t our busi­ness and we should for­get about it.

But it’s been nag­ging at me since and I can’t seem to let it go. I trust my wife, so that’s not it. I’m friends with hus­bands of A, B and C, but not close enough that I feel I should med­dle in their mar­riages. I should just write this up to ladies in their 40s be­hav­ing badly; maybe a lit­tle midlife-cri­sis kind of thing. Right? — Hus­band of friend E Some­times in­for­ma­tion leaves a film, doesn’t it? While it’s nat­u­ral to con­sider telling the truth as the best way to scrub off that film, I’m loath to chal­lenge a de­ci­sion you ap­par­ently made af­ter giv­ing the mat­ter se­ri­ous thought. There are good ar­gu­ments to be made — and pas­sion­ate be­liefs to be held — on both sides of the med­dle/don’t med­dle di­vide (though I’m not con­vinced that “it will ruin the group dy­namic” is one of them). It’s pos­si­ble that chang­ing sides will only make you feel worse.

But your nag­ging bad feel­ings do need to be ad­dressed, so if you can do it with­out ac­cus­ing/de­mand­ing/im­ply­ing any­thing, con­sider re­vis­it­ing the is­sue with your wife. Tell her the in­for­ma­tion still feels heavy, and ask her whether it’s still on her mind, too.

Then, depend­ing on her an­swer, you can ei­ther ask her how she made peace with it so that you can try her method/rea­son­ing your­self — she’s in the best po­si­tion to say, know­ing you and these women best — or sug­gest that you and she try to make peace with it to­gether.

If your wife doesn’t want any part of the con­ver­sa­tion, just the fact of her dis­com­fort might ex­plain your own — and her du­bi­ous taste in friends.

If in­stead you both con­trib­ute will­ingly to a so­lu­tion, be it lo­gis­ti­cal (say, you and she choose to dis­tance your­selves from A, B and C) or philo­soph­i­cal (you af­firm each other’s ded­i­ca­tion to and plea­sure with hon­esty and fidelity), just the act of your com­ing to it to­gether can go a long way to­ward get­ting this off your mind.

What won’t work--as you know — is glibly wav­ing it off. It’s not “ ladies be­hav­ing badly” or a “ lit­tle midlife cri­sis,” it’s be­trayal, to which you’re now a con­scripted party. It’s to your credit you’re feel­ing its weight. Dear Carolyn: Quite by ac­ci­dent, I found out that my friend’s new boyfriend is a reg­is­tered sex of­fender. What if she doesn’t know? If I knew her spir­i­tual ad­viser, I would start there, but I don’t know where she wor­ships. Anony­mously mail­ing the in­for­ma­tion seems cow­ardly. Telling her in per­son seems cruel.

I would pre­fer she not know that I know. We have been friends for a long time, but not close friends. Maybe he al­ready told her and she ac­cepted the sit­u­a­tion. What should I do? — Not sure if it is my busi­ness I’m not sure if it’s your busi­ness, ei­ther. I am sure that anony­mous tips are cow­ardly, be­cause their re­cip­i­ents can’t ask fol­low-up ques­tions and can’t stop won­der­ing at their source.

And I am sure that if I were this friend, I would want to know, be­cause sex of­fenses are, in my opin­ion, po­ten­tially too se­ri­ous for the it’s-not-my-place ap­proach.

Does that mean she wants to know? Nope. But it does tell me what I’d need to do in your sit­u­a­tion: I’d need to tell her to her face; ex­plain that my find­ing out was ac­ci­den­tal; as­sure her that I re­al­ize “reg­is­tered sex of­fender” can cover ev­ery­thing from a pe­dophile to a lovestruck se­nior who messed with the wrong fresh­man; ac­knowl­edge this is the last con­ver­sa­tion ei­ther of us wants to be hav­ing, es­pe­cially if he al­ready told her him­self; prom­ise that ev­ery­thing in this con­ver­sa­tion stays in this con­ver­sa­tion; and an­tic­i­pate that our friend­ship would be mor­tally wounded by my ac­tions.

So, to fig­ure out what you need to do, you’ll need to fig­ure out what you’d want done — and fer­vently hope she’s in agree­ment with you on your choice.

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