If you have a problem, email Caroline at [email protected]. Caroline reads all your letters but regrets she cannot answer each one personally
Did she expose my wife’s secrets?
Q A few weeks ago my wife and her friend of more than 40 years had some kind of falling out and have not spoken since. I raised the subject with my wife, but she just laughed it off and said it would all be OK. I know it was wrong, but I contacted her friend without my wife’s knowledge and, after pressuring her, she finally told me what it was all about. My wife’s friend recently reconnected with a man who they both had relationships with years ago – and they had argued about him. She said my wife was terrified I would find out that only a few weeks after meeting me, she slept with this guy when I was away on business for a week. I don’t know why after all these years her friend decided to tell me, but she then continued to rubbish my wife. She said that I didn’t know half of what went on with her, and that she had had more men than I could imagine. Having spent some time on the phone destroying my wife’s character, she went on to say that she’d had too many glasses of wine and asked me to forget the whole conversation which, if I repeated, she would deny. She then swiftly hung up. I really don’t know what to think – or if I should say anything to my wife?
She said that my wife had more men than I could imagine
A It won’t be easy but I think you’ll have to tell your wife what her friend revealed, simply because you need to know the truth. It would be nice to think that her wild accusations were because she was angry. Unfortunately, the woman was a bit drunk and therefore less guarded, so it is likely there is at least some truth to what she said. I hope your wife will answer you honestly, but it may make for painful listening. If, when she first met you, your wife was seeing this other man before deciding to commit then, as upsetting as that is, it may be something you can come to terms with – especially if she has been loyal and loving since. Be reassured that, although she had a wild past, ultimately she chose you. If your wife has had an affair or affairs over many years that, of course, is another thing altogether. I suspect that your wife will deny everything but, after a long marriage, you will probably know if she is telling the truth. You might also consider ringing her friend back and asking for another conversation – this time, hopefully, while she is sober. Of course, your wife may be cross that you’ve gone behind her back, but this is just a distraction from her own guilt. Your only motive was to help and, if she’d been able to confide in you about her friend, the situation would not have arisen. That is, after all, what partners are for – to support each other! I imagine it will mean the end of their friendship but, again, this cannot be your fault. I am so sorry that this is all very painful for you. I would strongly recommend counselling, either with your wife or alone, to help you decide whether to stay in your marriage or if too much damage has been done. Try relate.org.uk or bacp.co.uk.
I don’t know why my friend dropped me
Q I am 35 and last summer decided that I wanted to retrain as a midwife. This has resulted in numerous changes to my life. I left my job as a retail manager to work as a carer and have put off buying a flat until I am in my new profession. While I do not regret my decision, I have been hurt by the attitude of a close friend and former colleague, who I’ve known for several years. She doesn’t seem to bother any more: my texts go unanswered for days and no effort is made to arrange future catch-ups, though I have tried many times to get together. The one time we did attempt to meet, I couldn’t because of study deadlines. My friend was furious. It feels like I’ve been dropped and I’m really lonely. Do I cut this friendship off?
A Firstly, congratulations on making the bold decision to be a midwife – it is such a noble career and one that desperately needs new recruits. I am very sorry to hear how your friend has distanced herself. This is hurtful, especially when you were so close. Sadly, sometimes when people leave jobs their former colleagues can (wrongly) see it as a rejection of them or criticism of their choices – and be angry. This is not because of anything you have done. Your friend’s reaction says more about her and her insecurities than it does about you. So I’m afraid that, yes, you probably do need to let this friendship go because your friend is not perhaps who you thought she was. It will feel like a loss, but should also get easier over time. Meanwhile, I hope you’ll soon find your own ‘tribe’ among your new colleagues. See mind.org.uk and verywellmind.com for strategies on coping with loneliness.