Imagine you are dying. I know, not a pleasant thing to imagine, but imagine you've got a terminal disease and have about six months to live. However, your husband has been a godsend during this time -- supportive, caring, wonderful. You don't know what you'd do without him. Then one night (isn't that always the way?) an email comes to his iPad. You read it and realize he's having an affair. Do you confront him? This is the unbelivably agonizing position that a reader wrote to advice columnist Prudence asking about.
The terminally ill woman says that she wants to confront her husband -- but not for the usual reason. (I guess when you're dying, you don't have much time to hold grudges.) The woman wants to let her husband know she knows about the affair -- but only so she can forgive him! Yes, she wants to alleviate his guilt. (Assuming he has any.) She's also concerned that if her family finds out about his cheating after she's gone that they'll hold it against him, and she doesn't want that.
Wow. Here the woman is dying, yet she's worried about her husband's emotional state! I don't know if this woman is a saint or a doormat.
Prudence (aka Emily Yoffe) suggests that the woman get therapy. Therapy?! Who has time for that with six months left? Unless the therapy is in Tahiti or some place the woman has always wanted to go to, that seems a grim way to spend your remaining months. Prudence also suggests that the gravely-ill woman hint to her family that she knows about the affair and is okay with it so they don't demonize her hubby after her demise. Yeah, that'll make everything cool.
A professional weighed in suggesting that the woman not confront her husband at all -- that instead she give him the "great gift" of not saying anything at all so that when the wife dies, he can continue a relationship with the other woman without feeling guilty about it. WTF? When did this all become about the husband?
Seriously, dude, your wife is dying. Maybe this is your way of coping (as another expert suggests), but she'll be dead in less than a year! Couldn't you "cope" with another woman after that?!
That said, nothing will be gained by being angry at the husband now and having her main source of emotional support taken from her. And who wants the last months of your life filled with gut-wrenching accusations and squabbling.
But I'm a firm believer that honesty is the best policy and there's no reason for this poor woman to keep her husband's secret. On the other hand, letting him know she forgives him might encourage him to spend more time with the other woman and less with his dying wife!
I think I'd ask him politely to put things on hold until my time on the planet was over. Maybe he'd listen, maybe not. But until the husband buries his wife, they are still married, and it would be nice of him to remember that for the small time they have left. Am I asking too much?!
Anyway, if that doesn't work, I hope girlfriend has it in her to get out there and get some herself while she still can!
What would you do?
Image via SharonaGott/Flickr