Relationship Connection: My best friend had an affair with my wife and still wants to be friends

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Question

Recently, I caught my wife cheating on me with a very close friend of mine. It has been months after, but I’m still suffering from the trauma of it all. I’ve since forgiven my wife, and we are trying to work on our relationship.

My close friend is also married. When I was recently talking with my wife about her affair, I found out that my friend’s wife found out before I did. She approached my wife regarding the affair, and they were able to talk and work things out between them. 

My friend’s wife is now hoping that everything can go back to normal and everyone can be friends again. However, I feel very uncomfortable with the idea, and I don’t think I’d want to be friends with this guy anymore. I feel too betrayed.

Am I being selfish? Am I being shallow? I hope you can advise me on this. 

Answer 

You’ve been through a devastating loss, and it’s tough enough to think clearly about your own marriage without additional pressure from others. This is a challenging situation, for sure. Not only did your wife and best friend have an affair, they let his wife in on the secret and worked through their relationship issues long before you knew anything. It’s overwhelming to learn you were the only one who didn’t know what was going on.  

Figuring out your relationship with an unfaithful friend doesn’t have to happen right now. It’s okay to take this slowly and decide what you need as you get more clarity and healing. This is a critical time to protect your resources and not deplete yourself.  

Relationship trauma depletes your physical, emotional, relational and spiritual resources, so it’s important that you preserve your strength as you rebuild. Responding to unnecessary pressures based on other people’s preferences will only sap your precious energy. Your friend and his wife – and possibly your wife – might be ready to move on as if nothing happened, but you get to decide how that will look for you.

It’s nice to hear that you and your wife are working through the damage caused by her affair. It’s difficult work, but it’s completely possible to heal your marriage. One of the key components of affair recovery is the establishment of strong boundaries around the marriage. This is not the time to keep an open door to this other couple. You need the safety and security of knowing your marriage isn’t exposed to outside threats. 

This is an important time to see your wife protecting the marriage. If she’s pushing to invite this man back into your lives, you’ll want to slow down and ensure she’s not keeping her options open. It’s not easy to end an affair, and many unfaithful partners overestimate their strength post-affair.

This is a time to exercise caution and not become sloppy with boundaries. Her focus needs to be rebuilding a connection with you instead of trying to socialize with this other couple.

I believe in healing, forgiveness and the restoration of relationships, so I’ll be the last person to put limits on what is possible in the future with your friends. However, jumping back into this friendship just months after this difficult discovery feels premature to me.

Even though things in your marriage are feeling more hopeful, your marriage still needs time and space to heal. You also need space to consider what you want to do with this friendship. This isn’t something you can think through clearly right now.

It’s not selfish to need healing. As Jeffrey R. Holland reminded us, “The trials of life can be very deep, and we are not shallow people if we struggle with them.” Ask for the time and space you need while allowing your wife to show you her commitment to your healing.

Have a relationship question for Geoff to answer? Submit to:

Email: geoff@lovingmarriage.com

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