Our coronavirus coverage is free for the first 24 hours. Find the latest information at Please consider subscribing or donating.

  1. Kids & Family

Tell Me About It: Friend accepting husband's philandering has her at wit's end

Q: At what point do you drop a friend because you just can't deal with her lifestyle choices?

A good friend from college married soon after graduation, and returned to her small hometown. Seven years ago, she learned that her husband had a mistress of five years' duration.

I went with her through the original shock and outrage, while she decided what to do. At this point, she is resigned to the situation. She indulges in occasional bouts of self-pity, but for the most part insists that "everything else in my life is pretty good," so she's not willing to abandon ship. When her husband recently went into the hospital, she and the mistress took turns caring for him.

When I think back to the beautiful, vivacious and ambitious friend I knew in college, I want to scream. Sad to say, I have simply lost respect for her. I don't want to do anything as dramatic as make this proclamation and cut her out of my life, but I am fed up with the situation. Any suggestions?


A: A funny thing happened as I was reading your letter. Your opening line nudged me toward "lifestyle choices" that involve recklessness or malice.

But no. If you're right about her lost vivacity*, then her choices harm mainly her, with sadness.

So here's my advice: Act with love for her, since it's possible she can't right now.

*... and not just judging her. Not all complicated marriages are spirit-snuffers. If you do judge her, then be honest about that, too.