'I feel guilty that I advised our pal about marriage behind his wife's back'

Dear Coleen

A couple of weeks ago a male friend called and said he needed to talk to someone about his marriage and wanted some advice.

My husband and I have been friends with him and his wife for years, but he’s never confided in me about anything like this before.

I discussed it with my husband, who thought he sounded desperate and that I should talk to him.

I felt bad about discussing things behind his wife’s back, but I agreed.

He told me he wanted to leave her, but didn’t know how. He said he’d fallen out of love with her and they didn’t want the same things.

He feels under pressure because she wants to start a family and talks about it all the time, while he wants out of the marriage.

They’re both 33 and have been together for five years.

I tried to give the best advice I could and a female perspective. I don’t know if he’s talked to her yet – I’ve heard nothing from either of them.

Now I feel quite guilty for advising him and I worry she’ll be angry about this. Have I done the right thing and should I contact either of them?

Coleen says

When friends come to you for advice, you give it – that’s what you do. I’m sure he thought of you because he trusts you and you know his wife well and care about her – so you’d be well placed to offer guidance.

I think you need to cut him a bit of slack when it comes to doing something about it. Give him time – they’ve built a life together over five years and he clearly cares about her, and wants to handle things the best way possible.

I wouldn’t expect him to get help from you then immediately act on it – he’s not going to detonate his marriage on a whim.

He needs to be sure. For him, it’s a painful situation. I’ve been there myself so I know how hard it is to tell your partner it’s not working. And it’s natural for doubts to creep in.

I guess if time goes on and they’re still together and he’s carrying on as if nothing’s wrong, then have another conversation with him.

Explain you feel awkward knowing this information when his wife – your friend – is oblivious to what’s going on.

That would be an uncomfortable position to be in – to watch them playing happy families when you know how he feels.

I guess if his wife found out you’d given him advice, she might initially feel angry because you hadn’t told her.

But I think you’d just have to explain that he came to you in confidence and that you’d have done the same for her, and that you were only trying to help.


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