What about when friends are actually enemies of your marriage?

By Linda

enemies of your marriageThe other day we received the following email from a reader…

“I haven’t seen anything on what friends are safe for the cheater.  I believe some of my wife’s friends knew of her affair, may have been supportive, facilitating even enabling meetings.  She refuses to talk, says her friends are none of my business and calls me controlling for asking.  I tell her it’s her choice, but if they facilitated the affair they are not a friend of the marriage and should be distanced. It might be helpful to write about this as many probably have the same question.”

Most of our blogs to date that have dealt with the issue of friends have been geared more towards utilizing friends as a means of support for the betrayed.  Even then, they must be carefully chosen and must indeed be friends of the marriage.

What about when friends are actually enemies of your marriage?

Through our various discussions with people over the years we have heard of friends helping the cheater in three primary ways:

  • They were actually responsible for the introduction of the affair partners with the intent on them “hooking up.”  The typical situation here is that for one reason or another, the friend doesn’t like their friend’s spouse.  We have also seen this scenario play out where the “friend” is actually a relative.
  • Simply knowing about the affair and being party to its cover up.  Many times the friend covers things up willingly, but we’ve also seen where the friend is put in this situation against their will and are now in a really bad position.
  • Letting their friend use their home to carry on the affair. 
See also  Forget About the Affair Fantasy and Get the Playbook

I’m sure there are many other stories out there that could be added to this, but that is what we have heard – and can remember.  Please share any additional scenarios if you have them.

Regardless of how the friend helped the cheater out, they are not a friend of the marriage.  In my opinion, if a person is not a friend of the marriage – and a couple is trying to reconcile – then that “friendship” needs to end.  If there is no desire or effort for reconciliation it’s probably a moot point.

To respond to the reader’s wife and her stance that her friends are none of his business…I say BULL$#!+!

I feel that the she is still not ready to do everything to save the marriage.  She is still setting conditions that are not in the best interest of the marriage.  The cheater needs to understand that their actions have put them in a different situation then they have previously experienced, especially during their affair. 

More Crucial Things that Wayward Spouses Need to Know

They are no longer in the driver’s seat and if associating with the cheater upsets the spouse they should do everything possible to listen to their wishes and begin to build trust within their marriage again

Cheaters do not realize how their actions have broken the trust in their marriages and they need to be aware that even though they may think that certain activities are trivial or silly, they can be major triggers for the BS. 

If these actions continue it hinders the recovery of the marriage.    There comes a point when the cheater has to think less about themselves and their “freedom” and more about whether they want to save their marriage and what they need to do to make this happen. 

See also  Video: Meeting the Needs of Your Spouse

Her stance more or less tells me that she is not serious about transparency and honesty and reconciliation.  To me, it’s like being a cocaine addict and choosing to hang out with your dealer.  Nothing good can come of it.

About the nicest thing she should do is let her friend know that she is trying to rebuild her marriage and it is best that they no longer have contact with one another.  Heck, if she is a coward she can say that her husband is demanding it.  Hopefully, she will one day understand that this friend is really not a friend at all.

Another thing to consider if the friendship continues is that not only will it serve as a trigger for the BS, I feel that it will also serve to be a major trigger for the cheater (assuming the affair has ended).  That is to say, each time these friends get together or communicate, it would have to bring back memories and feelings of the affair and the affair partner.  It could possibly then be a catalyst for reestablishing contact with the affair partner, or at the very least cause issues with the cheater emotionally reconnecting with her spouse.

OK, I’m curious to hear your thoughts on this issue.  What if you were put in the situation where you knew of a friend’s affair and his/her spouse was also a friend?  Would you help cover it up?  What would you do?

    21 replies to "When Friends are Enemies of Your Marriage"

    • exercisegrace

      Our scenario was a little different. I wish I had recognized the significance and the danger at the time, but I did not. In the year or so leading up to his affair, my husband had a close friend who was going through a divorce following his wife’s affair. He begged her to reconcile but she chose to leave. This left him very, very bitter towards not only his wife, but women in general. My husband was trying to support his friend, spend time with him, and generally help him out. At the time, I did not really know this guy but I supported my husband’s efforts. WRONG answer! In retrospect, my husband can see that his attitude rubbed off a bit. This man sowed seeds of discontent. Watered the small complaints that ANY marriage has, and generally just grabbed a shovel and helped my husband start making mountains out of molehills. By the time the woman who was his “friend” and colleague starting making her run at an affair with him, he had already started harboring some resentments. Ridiculous ones. He can see that now, but then? Not so much. BEST fact of all? He is the one who connected those dots. He initiated the conversation one day recently that he can see this friend was toxic to him. No, the friend was not to blame for the affair. But he did gradually convey an attitude that wives are takers. They are not supportive. He gave my husband an outlet to complain about me, instead of bringing his concerns TO ME so we could clear up any misunderstandings. I think sharing inside info about our marriage with a friend also softened him up to complain about me to another friend. This time a dangerous female friend.

      Bottom line: we ALL. Betrayed and Cheating spouses, need to seriously evaluate our friendships. I am NOT advocating dropping friends who are going through a rough time. But who we spend time with impacts us much more than we know. It colors our view of life, relationships, and problem-solving. It can cause a dangerous shift in attitude and over time can be very toxic to the marital relationship. Misery loves company, and too many people are all to happy to have you jump on the spouse-bashing band wagon with them.

      Great post Linda! Something we tend not to look at in the immediate aftermath of an affair, but a crucial piece of recovery if we are choosing to stay in the marriage. The reader’s wife is not “all in” the marriage if she is unwilling to be completely transparent. Affair recovery is not simply cutting off contact with the affair partner. I believe it involves taking hard look at many aspects of life and making major changes across the board.

      • Doug

        Great comments EG. Also an interesting story on how your husband’s friend planted the seeds of discontent.

    • Requestor

      I am actually the one who sent the question to Doug and Linda. Linda I am most impressed with your timely and thoughtful response! I am also a little surprised by how adamant you are that such friends are unsafe, and the cheater who defends them is uncommitted. I’ve been feeling very troubled by these concerns for some time. Your comments are even more definitive than my feelings. It validates my concerns and feelings, unfortunately though, because it also signals that even one year after discovery my wife is not serious about restoring trust. It’s more about “get over it and move on”. Ugh. I wish I could break through the wall.

    • Requestor

      Now three months after asking this question, I discovered my wife’s best friend of 35 years was an enabler. During a weekend visit in 2012 with this friend, my wife of 25 years planned a rendezvous day trip with her old boyfriend whom she had been talking with in secret on facebook. Unfortunately, this is when the affair became physical. Her friend did not condone it, but did not disclose the meeting to me either. My wife was holding onto the secret. A year later during recovery, I tried to contact her to ask her if they got together during that visit. She refused to talk to me and berated me for asking. Now 9 months later I find a note exposing the whole thing. Ugly and sick. If this “friend” had not kept the secret, and answered truthfully my questions, we would be 9 months further in resolution. The ongoing lies, deceit, and denial make trust that much more difficult to repair. Can I ever feel safe or comfortable with this friend?

    • Gizfield

      Requester, my answer would be no on both counts. You don’t need a liar that is pro adultery in your life. And neither does your wife, for that matter. no good can come of it.

      • Strengthrequired

        Requester, I’m with giz, this “friend” of your wife’s sounds like she is a bad influence. If she was any sort of friend, she wouldn’t be supporting your w meeting up with an old boyfriend, she also wouldn’t be supporting her choice in having an affair with this person either. She encouraged it, instead of trying to explain to your w that it Is a bad idea to reconnect with the om. She should have tried to explain to your w that she risks losing her family, if she made the wrong move.
        Not the sort of person that is a friend of the marriage that’s for sure.

    • Strengthrequired

      I know one things for sure, in my life my h and I have lost several friends, since his ea started. My h is now happy to not go out with friends, he has lost trust in letting people too close, as have I. He now just deals with people he works with (acquaintances), will say hello if they are where he is, but will not go out of his way to meet them.
      In a way it is a refreshing change especially considering during his ea, he was hardly home, either at work, visiting his “special friend”or going out with mates. We were put last on his list.

    • Still Hurting

      I know this is an “old” posting and conversation, and I wish I had come across it earlier! This has been one of the biggest challenges for us, I think. There are two major issues, each of them quite different, and I’d love anyone’s thoughts on this.

      First issue: The single, most enabling friendship is not one I can ask him to give up. His best friend of 35 years, fellow musician, they’ve been playing guitar together and lived in a communal housing system for all that time. The friend’s wife is strange, very insular, rather uncomfortable in her own skin, and has never really liked me. When my partner and I got together, it was like being adopted into “in-laws” who accepted me but only marginally. Not sure they really care all that much whether he is in a successful relationship, happy in his world, or anything else–so long as they can have him in their music group. I have years of training as a singer, really with more musical background than her, so I was accepted as a “backup singer” in their group–so long as I never tried anything that made her, with very limited musical skills, feel uncomfortable. That was ok. We managed. Oh, and none of them have a regular 9-5 job–so lots of daytime freedom. Except for me. I work full time. So, my only expectation was that, if there is getting together for music, I get to be included and it is at a time I can come.

      But, when emotional affair started with a woman who was part of our friendship network, all he had to do was contact them when I was at my job, arrange a “rehearsal”, and talk her up as a singer for some new ideas they had. No problem there!

      Issue two: The friendship network/community. My partner is a massage therapist. I am trained in midwifery/herbalism. We live in a small city, and have a large network of friends who have lots of potlucks, little musical gatherings, and healing workshops of various types. It used to be wonderful for me! Back when I trusted my beloved. The affair partner, though, was a friend of mine, but also into the esoteric healing arts, and also not working during the day, because her husband supports them. The community of friends is quite varied in levels of relationships, married, unmarried, never going to marry, monogamous, non-monogamous. Relationship choices are respected, but there’s nobody who is going to feel badly about someone wanting an “open” relationship, so while there’s strong support for being loving, caring, honest, etc, the concept of “cheating” is a little less structured.

      In both cases, with both issues, it’s both impossible to really eliminate the friends from our connections without isolating ourselves, and in the case of the best friend, he was there first and there’s no way my partner is ever going to give up a 35 year music relationship. (we’ve been together 20 years). And even worse than isolation, for me, is that, while people all know us as in a relationship, there’s not really anyone who would see anything wrong with him connecting with another woman while I’m at work–not if he says it’s “fine”. Not if it’s non-sexual.

      • Requestor

        I am the one who wrote the original question and some replies nearly 4 years ago. I check periodically to see if anyone offers other comments, because this has been tough for me. I can tell you my CW continues to deny, ignore, rug-sweep the enabling friend issue. Although she may be reducing contact or going underground as it is less visible, there has been no commitment. And it continues to plague our marriage to the point it is one of a few factors that makes me want to give up.

        Your situation is very tough. My advice would be relocate to start a different lifestyle and group of friends. It may sound ridiculous, but trying to heal in the environment you describe seems nearly impossible.

    • Still Hurting

      Thank you for responding. We have lived in the same city for 28 years. I don’t think he has any intention of ever leaving.

      I have two daughters and a grandbaby who have lived here all their lives. I have a third daughter who grew up here as well, and is away at college, but I do not know that she would be happy “coming home” to visit somewhere else when she is on break.

      I have an ex-husband, from many years ago, who is a sex-addict and who cheated constantly in our last home town, and moving here WAS part of the solution, but our eldest daughter was a baby then, and we did not have a lifetime of roots in that old city.

      Still, the thought has crossed my mind.

      • Requestor

        Very tough situation SH. Best course of action might be advice from a true expert, a good counselor, and possibly an accountability partner for your H. Prayers and best wishes for success.

    • Stephanie

      Hello, I know this is a post from several years ago, but it applies to my situation. I discovered my husband’s two year affair about a year and a half ago. I was beyond devastated! I discovered it by placing a hidden recorder in his vehicle, & he uses Bluetooth, so I was able to not only listen to him but to the other woman as well. About a week after discovering the affair I was listening to the tape (I could only stomach listening to short snippets of it at a time), I heard my husband talking to his mom, she was asking about what I got him for his recent birthday…..& then amidst what I thought was an innocent conversation between mom & son, she says “What did So&So get you for your b’day?”, I felt as if I’d been punched in the stomach WITHOUT EMBRACING FOR IT, because I DID NOT see it coming, not in a million years! You see she’d been a victim of this hell in her marriage before they divorced. She oohed & aahed w’him over every little thing he shared w’her about his gifts from his mistress. Not an ounce of shock or disapproval! She even asked him what him & the OW ordered when they had lunch together at a local restaurant.
      To add insult to injury he has the audacity to expect me to believe she didn’t know about the affair, saying she thought they were just ‘business associates’! Really?! She knew I was furious after I sent her a short text saying “I’m so glad you asked B what M got him for his b’day!”. Her reply to me, about a week later, was a passive aggressive text saying that I was sadly mistaken if I thought she ‘condoned’ his affair, & she had unconditional love for her son & she wanted to be left out of it, b’c she doesn’t want any ‘mean words’ I might say to her replayed in her head. WTH?! Umm excuse me you were ‘a part of it’ before I even knew about it! & what does you having ‘unconditional love’ for your son have to do with anything?! You don’t want any ‘mean words’ I might say replayed in your head, REALLY?! Because how the hell do you think I feel having you ‘ask what the whore got your son, my husband of 20 yrs, & father of our twins for his b’day’ replayed in MY head?!
      I have blocked her on social media, I am ‘civil’ to her at holidays for the sake of my kids, that’s it….nothing more. My husband honestly acts like he just cannot understand why I won’t speak to her!?
      I feel that not only was I betrayed by my husband, but by my MIL as well. I think what really gets me is that she’s had this done to her so she knows the pain firsthand, she claims to be a Christian & attends church weekly, & it’s one thing if she doesn’t like me but WHAT ABOUT HER GRANDKIDS?! Did she ever once think about how his affair hurts the ENTIRE FAMILY not just the betrayed spouse?! Any advice would be greatly appreciated……& thanks for letting me vent!!

      • Requestor

        Boy Stephanie, I am sad for you. That would be devastating. But it may explain where your husband got his sense of right and wrong, his lack of integrity.

        I am Requestor, who wrote the original question five years ago. I still don’t have any good answers for you. My wife and I are still together, but it has been painful. Though distanced, she hangs on to the friend enablers. It’s like having your face rubbed in it every time they connect. And there is no apparent remorse. A parent enabler would seem impossible to handle. Many say enablers of the affair should no longer be a part of the couples life. How do you do that with a parent.

        You can visit chumplady.com for regular doses of reality of how sick people can be in their betrayal. The message there would be RUN, there are clearly FOO (family of origin) issues. Same with divorce minister site. If there is insufficient remorse and commitment, cut your losses.

        But you may be like me. Too many years of your life dedicated to blow up. Hate to have a broken family that hurts your kids, even if they’re grown. Everything you’ve worked for and saved and built, you can’t see it diminished. If you can just hang on, maybe they will see the light. Maybe it’ll be tolerable. You find comfort or company to know you are not alone in your pain. You may find a counselor, minister or friend that you can talk to who validates your feelings. You pray that your sacrifice will pay off somehow someway, maybe in the “next” life.

        Good luck and God bless.

    • Patrick

      There is no treason if that person was a treasonous bastard and was not loyal in the first place.

      Good riddance.

    • Griz

      I’m grateful for coming upon this post. It’s really helped to validate the reasons I resent our so called “good friends”. There’s a couple that my husband and I befriended while stationed overseas. My husband really became very attached to them and super loyal to the point where he would hurtfully make it obvious that he would rather hang out with them and do what they wanted vs what I wanted even turning down dates with me and we were newly weds. He would buy them expensive gifts and pay for their dinners, etc…Over the years I brought up my concerns with him and he would dismiss them. I confronted him and said he was too obsessed with them always comparing us to them always choosing their favorite restaurants over exploring new ones with me. He would come home tired and moody to me and was a ray of sunshine whenever they would call and would jump out the couch to meet up with them. If we had an argument he would leave me crying to hang out with them and lie by saying I was ill. A lot of times he would leave me waiting with cooked food and call from their house saying oh I’m eating over here (at the couples house) come on over. Sorry for the back story, but I’m getting to my point. I brought the issue up to the wife and she dismissed it by saying that they don’t take sides with friend couples due to experiences in the past. She even boasted about oh my husband would never do that to me. After so many Rejections from my husband and complains about why he’s always treating them better by buying expensive things and bring more loyal to them I decided to distant myself from them. Another reason I distant myself was because the husband came on to me. I never disclosed this to anyone. My husband made it seem as though I was the one that had an issue with them and they took it very personnel, especially the husband. Being the peacekeeper that I am and naive I accepted my husbands request to make up with the husband. The husband never saw the reasons for me being upset, that I felt left out. They both never questioned my husband or advised him to take me out on dates to be nicer to me. We divorced and they never once offered any emotional support for me just for my husband. Looking back, I think the couple played some part in our divorce. Recently, my husband had an affair and the husband knew about it. We reunited in a family vacation and the whole time they would sneak off to talk about this woman. I found a text where the husband was leading my husband on to share the details about the affair. My husband even mentioned that the conversations they were having reminded him of other conversations in the past. I had warned my husband that if we vacationed with that couple that It better not be just about them and that i didn’t want to feel left out like in the past.
      The text messages also had the husband caution not to get caught and therefore ruin the reunion and vacation all together. He also cautioned to make sure he doesn’t ruin his career if he got caught cheating Never once did he say you need to think of your family, think about your devoted wife. The text even clearly suggested that they should both delete the conversation before anyone else reads it.
      I caught my husband in a lie about his involvement with a co-worker and our friends involvement in keeping his secret. The worst part is that I realized that couple has been keeping all his secrets and they have not once done anything to support our marriage. They say they don’t take sides! It’s clear that they do side with my husband and they are ok with how he disrespects me and doesn’t value our marriage. To make matters worst, Is that I let this couple linger on for years. Time and time again I would mention that this couple was no good and my husband would angrily defend them by saying that I was jealous of them, that they were there for him during our divorce. Now I see why he was so devoted to them. Every time my husband wrongs me this couple plays a role. At first I asked for a divorce after he blamed me for him having an affair which he now claims he didn’t sleep with the woman but was just flirting. We have two kids and I have nothing to make it on my own. I know he doesn’t want a divorce because he agreed to counseling now and he even agreed to distance himself from that couple. I don’t trust him! Thanks for listening to my story.

    • Jennet


    • Natasha

      Interesting article. My husband had an emotional affair with a colleague at work. Another colleague from this work knew about it and was supportive. He helped them meet together. It also seems to me that other colleagues suspected that something was going on between my husband and affair partner.
      Me husband changed jobs and stopped communicating with the affair partner, but he wants to continue to communicate with a friend who knew about everything and other colleagues. I do not know whether to allow him to communicate with them. What is your opinion?

    • Wendy

      My friend became the EA partner. She reached out to me on facebook 3 years ago because her husband had cancer and she wanted to talk to my husband who was her high school friend. I connected them. I met her 37 years ago when we become engaged and she was at our wedding. She moved in and stole my husband after hers passed away last year. She is not my friend! Both betrayal my trust.

    • Recovering Man

      Those “friends” who are not both privately and publicly supportive of your marriage should not be considered friends, this includes relatives. Those “friends” who in anyway support, enable, defend, or pay a roll in marital infidelity is a enemy of your marriage. After d-day any spouse who chooses such a person over their marriage should truly evaluate their relationships

    • Phoenix2020

      This is such a rich topic for me. I am grateful it resurfaced.

      As my BS’s secret affair developed (on-line, long distance) with the daughter of a former colleague, my husband became increasingly distant and unpleasant with me. I didn’t realize it at the time, but he was also airing a lot of his dissatisfactions about me to his best friend of many years. This friend and his wife had been close “couple friends” of ours for the entirety of our marriage (23 years at that point).

      When I discovered the affair (BS left an explicit and extensive Fb Messenger conversation open on his computer that exposed the extent of the affair), I captured the conversation, but kept my mouth shut and pretended I didn’t suspect until I explored my legal position. Meanwhile over the next several weeks, not my proudest moment, but I hid a recorder in his (home) office. While I did hear absolutely devastating conversations with his AP as I expected, what I DID NOT expect were the conversations (always on speaker so I heard both sides) with the best friend that more than violated boundaries of privacy. I was discussed in ways that were unkind, unfair, and deeply personal. My husband disclosed to his friend that he had developed a friendship with someone he could have “adult conversations” with but he didn’t confess the extent of their plans to divorce respective spouses, lies, clandestine plans for her to visit, finding his “soul mate,” etc. I was dumbfounded that my husband could be so cruel and I was flabbergasted that the friend participated so fully in the assassination of my character. He even went so far as to suggest to my husband that he schedule an appointment with MY therapist to find out “what kind of bullshit” I had been saying about him in session! Overall, he gave my husband incredibly bad advice and ultimately a “guy pass” on the inappropriate relationship. The betrayal of the affair has been painful beyond belief, but there is a second, also excruciating, betrayal by people I had considered dear friends.

      Fast forward 2.5 year beyond confrontation, confession, my husband’s decision to end the affair and work to repair and rebuild our marriage. We have done a lot of work and are in a far better place. He knows I heard the conversations with his friend but still seems to have difficulty understanding my feeling of violation and why I can’t “go back to the way it was” with the former friends. He hasn’t fully confessed to them the extent he was lying to them and to me. He hasn’t acknowledged to them the level of emotional abuse that existed in our relationship and his responsibility for so many of the deficits he accused me of. As far as the “friends” know, he’s the poor victim in all of this. After 25 years, they dropped me like a hot potato, but they still send him birthday cards. The smear campaign worked. Apparently, they now think that I have him in some kind of narcissistic, emotionally coercive strangle hold.

      I grieve the loss of the friendship, but they were not ultimately friends of our marriage and certainly not friends to me. Boundaries have always been tough for me; this one is non-negotiable. It was his choice to run me down like a dog to his friend (I think he regrets doing that); it was their choice to take sides. Choices have consequences. In this case, the consequence is that those who participated with him in that are no longer welcome in my life. He is free to choose them. But he will choose them alone!

      • Griz

        Thank you fir sharing your personnel story. I completely can relate to the betrayal from both your husband and those you considered your friends. Those personal private boundaries were broken and with that your spirit. 😔 They never took the time to try to view both sides and they were rooting for your marriage to fail. They deliberately encouraged your husbands deceptions to feed their own needs whatever needs those were. The saddest thing is that your husband confined in them more, he let evil people come into
        You live and have more influence on his action than you his own wife. Now he plays the victim and would rather throw you under the bus to save face. Man nobody would put up with this only you because you really love him and know how he is. I am the same, I forgave but I didn’t forget. Now I watch my back from people that come into our lives pretending to be friends. I tell my husband that those false friends only pretend to lookout for your marriage and 9 out of 10 times are looking for a road-dog someone who will encourage cheating and betrayal for whatever selfish reasons, could be because they are miserable with their marriage or they just have the Jezebel spirit. You know the one from the Bible,. The nastiest, evil, most disgusting, cunning, and seductive spirit. I’m not religious but I can tell you how grown men can be influenced. Now I’m not saying your husband was influenced, he’s grown and knows right from wrong, but it doesn’t help to be surrounded by people like that. My husband never really broke up with that couple that did the same to our marriage, he just stopped talking to them, or I hope he did. The sad thing is that they have done it before in the past to other couples. One day I will put into words what I want to say to them, because they need to know that they are in the wrong. I truly believe in Karma and that is how I deal with that. I have not confronted the woman or the couple, for so much pain they have caused. I just sit back silently watching and I can understand why they are the way they are and their actions. It’s very personal to me.

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