Dear Carolyn: My best friend recently learned her husband was unfaithful to her. Apparently, he used a website specifically designed for "sugar daddy"-type arrangements to find his cheating partners. He got caught and then months later got caught again.
I am trying to help my friend navigate her feelings about all this. She loves her husband — or, at least, she loves the man she thought he was — and wants to find a way to stay married and move on from this. But, naturally, she's not sure she can ever trust him again or that he will ever change.
I keep going back to the fact that he actively sought out infidelity by going on the sugar-daddy website. To me, that is worse than, say, having an affair with someone you work with and developed feelings for. Do you have any insight on this?
— Best Friend
Best Friend: People stop doing bad things only when they want to stop doing bad things.
They don’t stop just because they happen to get caught at the bad things and now face losing things they care about as a consequence. That works only if fear of the consequences pushes them to the point of not wanting the bad thing anymore.
So, unless the husband is taking unequivocal and drastic steps to change himself — including separation, because he clearly doesn’t belong in a marriage in his current condition, and counseling — there is no reason for your friend to believe he will stop cheating.
Except the biggest reason of all, that she just wants to believe it because she’s not ready to face the alternative.
If for some reason she’d rather stay in the marriage knowing he cheats — people do make their deals — then that’s her prerogative. But I think a friend who is looking out for her will say to her, clearly, once, that her biggest risk now isn’t that he’ll cheat again, but that she will lie to herself about who he is and what is possible in a marriage to him.
Wishful thinking is the monster under the bed.
Dear Carolyn: As a single guy, having friends with families is pretty tough. Last year, I did an open-mic event and invited my friend and his wife. I gave them at least three months' notice and free tickets. A week prior I texted him as a reminder and he came back with, "Oh — we have a graduation party."
Seriously? I was super pissed, and he gave me the usual sellout answer, "Well, we have kids," and I haven't heard from him since.
I was treated as if I'm in the wrong and I don't think I am.
— Single Guy
Single Guy: You’re not. I’m sorry.
And “Well, we have kids” is not an answer. The possible reasonable explanations are: “We screwed up — how can we make this right?”; or, “[Bad thing] happened or else we’d be there” — like, someone got sick, the sitter quit, the furnace quit. That’s really it. Having children doesn’t give you license to be inconsiderate.
Any friends with a lot of other commitments — not just parents — can be tough to pin down, but manners still apply.