Relationship Connection: Do I have a right to protect my friend’s privacy from my wife?

Stock image, St. George News

Question

I cheated on my wife a few years ago and we’ve been working hard to fix our marriage. I’m caught in a snag right now because she is upset that I changed my password on my phone and my email account.

The reason I did this is because I have two best friends who are currently having affairs and haven’t told their wives. They are confiding in me about their lives in texts and emails. My wife knows these guys and their wives and it would be a huge disaster for everyone if she found out what was going on.

My wife is becoming suspicious that I’m cheating again now that I won’t let her have access anymore to my email and texts. I’m totally caught in the middle between their privacy and my wife’s demands.

Answer

You’ve got a tough situation and I’ve got some tough points for you to consider. When all is said and done, if you want a strong marriage, your wife deserves your complete loyalty. This means that you forsake all others, including your friends.

Your wife is understandably terrified of the unknown. You’ve kept secrets from her in the past that badly injured your marriage. If she is going to feel trusting and secure, she needs full transparency from you, including access to your texts and emails.

While it’s fair for any friend to need a private space to work out personal problems, there is a huge difference between requesting privacy and keeping secrets.

Privacy is about keeping good boundaries while you work out things that only pertain to certain people who have a right to know.

When it comes to marriage, your friend’s wives have a right to know what’s going on with these affairs. If they’re not coming to you to get help so they can stop the affairs and confess to their wives, then it’s not privacy they’re seeking. They want you to keep secrets. Secrets are more destructive because the motivation is to keep anyone from finding out. Secrets are dark, hidden, and ultimately a dead end.

If you have truly healed from your indiscretions and rebuilt trust with your wife, why would you spend time back in the world of deception, distorted thinking, denial, blame and secrets?

I would hope that this dysfunctional world would be repulsive to you after all it did to destroy the trust between you and your wife. How are you able to stay in this place with your friends without leading them to a better place? If your friends are not ready to give up their secret lives, then why would you stay there with them?

It’s not your job to force their hand, but you can certainly pull yourself out of the position they’ve put you in as their secret-keeper.

I want to invite you to think about what it means for you to be a friend. True friendship requires loyalty to not only the friend, but also to the ideals your friend holds dear. If he’s strayed from his own ideals, then a true friend has an opportunity to courageously remind him of what’s most important to him. Don’t believe the lie that your only option with your friend is to passively listen to the train wreck they’re creating in their lives. What have you learned from your experience? How have you grown? What can you tell them to help them?

Please recognize that they aren’t being good friends to you if they’re putting you in this situation. If these men were true friends, they would want you to protect your marriage and never create a dilemma like this. However, they aren’t currently protecting their own marriages, so it’s going to be impossible for them to care what happens to yours.

I encourage you to unlock your emails and texts so your wife can have access. Her safety comes first. You can let your friends know that you want to help them, but your commitment is to growth, healing, light and transparency.

If they want to reach to you for support and counsel to move toward a better place, then your wife will most likely feel more secure knowing that they’re headed to a better place. And it will allow her to be a source of support to these other women. They can choose if they want to keep communicating about their secret lives. If they know you are committed to your marriage and won’t enable them to destroy theirs, then they can decide how you can best support them.

Stay connected!

Geoff Steurer is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice in St. George, Utah. He specializes in working with couples in all stages of their relationships. The opinions stated in this article are his own and may not be representative of St. George News.

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

Email: geoff@lovingmarriage.com

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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10 Comments

  • ladybugavenger May 17, 2017 at 9:25 am

    First of all, You’re not keeping a secret. Second of all, you never keep secrets from a spouse. And lastly, you are a participant in deception, lies, and a cover up. You and your friends are terrible! Absolutely terrible people with bad character traits. You are involved in a destruction of a family.

    Your wife should leave you and would have every right to suspect you are cheating. You have learned nothing! If you had learned something you wouldn’t be covering up your friends affairs up but you would be exposing them. You seem to still believe it’s ok to cheat just don’t get caught. Your loyalty lies on the wrong side. Your loyalty lies with infidelity. You are a terrible husband and friend.

    • comments May 17, 2017 at 10:24 am

      I agree LBA. This guy really needs to grow up, or grow a brain.

  • Brian May 17, 2017 at 9:54 am

    You can’t change the people around you, but you can change the people around you. In other words, you can’t change your friends (character, behavior, attitude) but you can change who your friends are.

    If it was alcohol and you were a sober alcoholic, would you want friends who were constantly telling you about their latest binges and asking to you stash their beer for them? Well, this is more serious. Honestly, if you have 2 friends that are both cheating on their wives and asking you to keep their secret then you need better friends!

  • comments May 17, 2017 at 10:19 am

    First of all, you can’t technically have “two best friends”. Secondly, both of them cheating at the same time? Wow. Just wow. Got to love our little mormon mayberry community. It’s all about appearances, not so much practicing actual moral living. Thirdly, tell your wife. You’d rather have her think you’re also sleeping around? Plus, women love this sort of drama and gossip and she’ll resent you forever if you don’t let her in on it. Your “two best friends” have put you in a bit of a bind by dumping this sort of stuff on you in the first place. Save your marriage or throw the sleeping-around “two best friends” under the bus. It’s your choice.

    • comments May 17, 2017 at 10:21 am

      Well make that 3/3 because I hadn’t factored in that the author here has a history of sleeping around. So “three best friends” all gettin’ a little on the side 😉 . I love our little mormon mayberry community. All this dirty laundry needs to get aired out. lol

      • ladybugavenger May 17, 2017 at 1:25 pm

        It only shows, once again, that religion can’t save you! Hearts are against God- no matter what religion someone is in only a heart turned to God will change a person. Thank you Jesus! ❤️

      • .... May 25, 2017 at 5:24 am

        another one of Bobs Mormon hating stupid cheap shots

    • Brian May 17, 2017 at 10:48 am

      Seriously, grind your axe somewhere else. This has NOTHING to do with “our little mormon mayberry community”, it has to do with human nature and the society we live in (macro, not micro). Do us all a favor and write a letter every morning expressing your outrage at these blankety blank blank mormons, then crinkle it up and throw it in the garbage and get on with your day. Everyone around you (mormon or not) will be happier for it, and you will too.

  • comments May 17, 2017 at 2:41 pm

    I just gotta wonder. Don’t know if the 3 stooges mentioned in this story will read these but… If you’re gonna go out and have sex with numerous people (other than your spouse) then why get married in the first place? Is it a mormon cultural thing, ie maintaining the image of the happy happy little monogamous couple and perfect little LDS nuclear family. It’s like that story the other day of the recently married guy attempting to set up an encounter with a hooker and 13yr old. Really, why do get married? I tell you what, none of my marriages ever ended as a result of infidelity, because there was none. I say when it comes to sleeping around: there are no second chances. Once a cheater always a cheater. Of course when children are involved it complicates things tremendously. But don’t try to keep a marriage together just for the kids’ sake. When it’s done it’s done. My advice to all 3 of these wives would be to bail on these clowns, unless of course they don’t mind an “open marriage”. The whole point of marriage is a commitment to not going out and having sex with other people willy-nilly.

    And Bri, you can whine and moan about what I write about the LDS culture all you want, but the hypocrisy is there, and as long as it entertains me enough to point it out I will (I hope other get some satisfaction from it as well). You’re also welcome to whine and moan all you like. LDS culture is more about image than it is substance. It just is. cheers Brian

  • comments May 17, 2017 at 2:53 pm

    “I’m caught in a snag right now because she is upset that I changed my password on my phone and my email account.”

    Also, email and I assume texts? Are people too brain dead anymore to have actual conversations on the phone? Would they prefer too leave a trail of texts and emails as a record of there infidelity? Strange.

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