You know a husband is cheating on his wife. Do you tell anyone?

Here is the situation presented as impartially as possible:

There is a couple who I will call Bob and Jenny. They have been married 7 years. Both have previous marriages. Both are in their early 50’s.

Bob works with a woman named Martha. Bob asks Martha out to lunch repeatedly, and after turning him down several times she finally agrees to go out with him.

Bob and Martha begin spending a lot more time together. The phone bill skyrockets. Bob believes Martha to be his soul mate.

Jenny is pissed.

Bob tells Jenny that Martha is just a good friend and that their relationship is strictly platonic. Bob has purportedly been upfront about his relationship with Martha from the beginning.

After about 6 months, Bob admits to Jenny that he has kissed Martha passionately. Jenny threatens to leave, but Bob somehow consoles her and she stays. Bob continues spending time with Martha.

Martha is also married. For 20+ years. She and her husband have several kids.

Bob, Jenny, Martha, and Martha’s husband all attend the same church regularly. Martha’s husband and their kids are the only ones who are not aware of the situation. This has been going on for approximately 10 months.


You may be wondering why any of this is ejtx’s damn business. The answer is that I am involved in this situation in a way that makes it impossible for me to ignore. I don’t want to say why just yet because it could possibly influence people’s opinions.

Who would you be telling? Why? I don’t think you’ve given enough information to justify telling anyone anything.

^^^
The husband who doesn’t know that his wife is running around with another man.

oops, hit submit too soon…

I was also thinking about telling their kids, but they’d find out soon enough anyway. And maybe the church’s preacher, who holds Bob up to be a respected Christian leader.

I feel pretty disingenuous about not saying anything when I know these basic facts to be true. I’ve tried to ignore it, but it is getting harder with time. I was hoping the situation would resolve itself somehow but nothing seems to be happening and I worry about what will happen if things go on too long and pressure builds. I’ve been told Martha’s husband can be abusive and from the looks of him I don’t doubt it. Jenny has also been under a lot of stress lately and her first marriage ended under similar circumstances.

You want to tell a husband you suspect is abusive that his wife is cheating on him? :confused:

Unless you are Jenny, I don’t understand your thought process at all here.

Please do not tell the kids. They may find out on their own, but they do not need to find it out from you.

Talk to your preacher if you must, he’d be able to offer you guidance. Or if you feel that you absolutely must address the situation, go to Bob and Martha themselves and urge them to be honest with their spouses (and/or end the affair if they want their respective marriages to work).

But please don’t tell the children. Depending on their ages it would cause undue pain and turmoil at best, and at worst (if they are grown) it’s not really their business right now either. But no matter what, the children, no matter their ages should not be put in the middle of their parents’ marital issues; if you go to them that is exactly where they’d be.

Why on earth would you think telling their kids would be a good thing? Are you trying to hurt them? Because that’s the only possible result from telling them. Whether Martha’s husband should be told is nobody’s business other than his or Martha’s.

It sounds really out of line that you want to tell the kids. That’s so over-stepping the line.

It’s really hard to comment without knowing why you feel you have such a duty to butt into these people’s private lives.

Based on what little you’ve told us so far, I’d have to say that if you tell any of them, you are the homewrecker, not Martha or Bob.

OK, I guess this isn’t making much sense to anyone here. Sorry. I’ve been trying to present this in a really basic way but I guess that just isn’t going to work.

Well, I’m not Jenny, but she is my mom. And I REALLY don’t like this Bob guy right now.

My mom married Bob after I graduated high school and moved out. We didn’t have any problems until he started hanging around with Martha.

My mom has been very upset about her husband seeing another woman. Like I said, her first marriage ended because Dad was seeing another woman.

Bob is an intimidating guy. Ex-army, ex-cop, ex-trucker, knows karate, has guns, knives, and all that bullshit. Total redneck. He likes to fight and loves to argue. He is very good at twisting words around and manipulating people.

Mom is easily led and I think she actually wants out of her marriage at this point. The problem is that Bob is able to mess with her mind and keep her from leaving. I think he verbally abuses her and uses his fucked up logic to trick her into staying. She isn’t happy and I know it. But she just can’t stand up for herself enough to leave.

Another thing about Bob. He seems to think his little tryst is all God’s will. He claims to receive messages from God that tell him to see this woman Martha. According to him (and I’ve heard this directly) everything he has done or is doing is because God acts through him.

I confronted Bob and mom together and told them I thought what he is doing is wrong and he threated to fight me. I would love to pop him right across his stupid looking face, but I can’t let him win that easy.

As much as I don’t like Bob, I want to do what is right to keep my mom happy. If she is truly happy with him, I want them to sort out their problems and get on with it. But I am also tired of Bob having his way with two women while everybody just kind of puts up with it. Especially mom.

Hence my desire to spread a little sunshine around. I mean if my wife were cheating on me, I’d want to know about it. I’d be pretty pissed if I was the last one to find out.


This is all a little too much for me to carry around by myself, which is why I’m trying to get some impartial opinions.

If y’all think I should just leave it alone I’ll try and do that.

Sorry it’s been so confusing.

Oh yeah, and their kids are all adult age now. I’d never tell something like this to younger ones.

I think you should talk to somebody (but NOT Bob, your Mom, or Martha’s kids). Perhaps your preacher or some kind of counselor if you have one. I think it sounds like you need help dealing with this knowledge for your own sake.

If your Mom knows, then she knows, let her handle it. I know it hurts you to see her unhappy (if she is) and I can understand the turmoil you must be going through, but everyone involved are adults. I hate to word it quite like this, but it really isn’t your business.

I would advise you to be very supportive of your Mom. Let her know that you are there for her and that she can come to you if she needs to talk, but I wouldn’t push it at this point. Keep your eyes open for any evidence of abuse and report it if you need to, but other than that, I don’t see much you can do to “fix” this.

But I still say do not go to Martha’s kids. If a confrontation is unavoidable, speak to Martha herself, but it’s not her kids’ business and telling them anything about their mother will only serve to get their defenses up, and could backfire on you with them supporting their mother to the point of elevating things.

Bottom line: you cannot break up the affair nor can you force the spouses to leave. In attempting to do so you may create more havoc, driving a wedge between you and your Mom or antagonizing any marital problems that already exist (in other words, pissing Bob off). No good is going to come of an “it’s him or me” ultimatum (not that you mentioned doing anything like that) and until your Mom makes the decision that she is ready to leave, she isn’t going to. Just make sure that through your actions your Mom knows that you will be there for her if/when she does decide to leave. I think that’s the best you can do right now.

Yeah, that’s pretty much what other people have told me.

I guess you’re right, but it is really frustrating how no resolution ever happens. I’m just worried about what will happen when the husband finds out. It can’t go on forever. All the elements are there: the abusive husband, the argumentative crazy redneck, the stressed woman, guns, knives, etc. Everything is set to slow boil on a pressure cooker and I don’t want it to blow up.

FWIW, I wanted to talk to their kids because they know their dad better than I do. I thought they might be better to know what to do about him. They are two adult men. My parents split up so I know what its like to be in their position. Plus they are about my age (early to mid-20’s) and it feels weird knowing something major that they don’t. If I was to switch places with one of them I’d want to know about it. But then I’ve been down this road before and I guess they haven’t.

My parents never split up, so I don’t know what it’s like to go through that, but as an adult, if one of my parents were having an affair I would absolutely not want to know about it. At all.

I can understand the weirdness of knowing a “secret” about their mom that they do not, but really, what could/would they do if they did know? And since they too are grown men, you don’t know their emotional states. Not that I think this is the case, but they could be angry, abusive men who upon learning this news side with their dad compounding any fears for Martha’s safety within her marriage. Or they may not believe you and take it out on you for what they see as lying or spreading rumors about their mom. There really are several ways that scenario could play out and none of them are very nice, I don’t think.

And realistically, at least going by your OP, there is a chance that Bob is telling the truth…that he has kissed Martha but otherwise they are close friends. Again, not that I think that is likely but it is within the realm of possibilities right now. Until Bob and/or Martha are ready to go public with the affair, I think it’s best to err on the side of caution and just keep it to yourself (or discuss it only with your counselors whoever they may be).

This is the first time I’ve heard something like this and not immediately said “Tell the spouse.” I do think the spouse always has a right to know if they are being cheated on. But the element of abuse, and it sounds credible as you know these people pretty well, makes me hesitant.

You need to talk to the preacher about it, and see what he suggests. Also, if you do decide to tell the husband, you need to let Martha know that you are going to ahead of time. “On Saturday afternoon I’m going to call your husband and tell him about your affair.”

Martha and Bob do not have the right to take risks with their spouses’ health. If they want to sleep around then their spouses have a right to understand that they are not, in fact, in monogamous relationships.

But as I said, physical safety in the immediate trumps the possibility of future illness.

Maybe you should just print out this thread and hand it to Martha after church one morning.

btw - how do you knwo for sure it was more than a kiss? Just wondering. . .

In my opinion, generally, people who are aware of something illicit and stay silent about it are to some degree complicit. However, there are various negative practical consequences of different ways of speaking out, which you have to try to weigh. In particular, children aren’t fully formed people who should be equipped with the means to handle some of these things.

The one strongest note that I have is that a preacher isn’t a good person to approach for any kind of advice. Why would you ask advice of somebody who says you will be magically rewarded after you die for doing as he tells you? Giving these people a pass on that, much less holding them up as leaders, is beyond me.

Without reading the other responses,

Stay uninvolved as much as you can. Keep out of other peoples relationships if you possibly can.

Are you an only child? I’m asking because usually my other siblings are very helpful to me in figuring out what to do in a case like this.

You can’t make your mom leave this guy, but you can be supportive and honest in your interactions with her. Help her to see the situation more clearly if she wants to talk it out. Don’t exaggerate or she will not trust your advice.

That’s about all you can do at this point. I don’t think, after reading your explanation of the situation, that it would be wise to tell anyone at this point.

I feel for you, this is a tough spot to be in. Good luck.

I’d recommend 2 things. First, talk to your pastor about it. He or she may have some good advice for you, or may decide to talk to one or more the involved parties face to face. If nothing else, letting someone who knows all these people know what’s going on will take a load off your mind and heart.

Second, learn to disengage from the situation because if you don’t it’s going to tear you apart. The first step is refusing to listen to your mother talk about this situation–if she’s not willing to do anything about the situation, she loses her right to bitch about it. The whole mess will still be going on, but at least nobody will be rubbing your face in it and that will make it easier for you.

Your mom needs to grow a backbone and leave if she’s unhappy with a situation Bob clearly has no intention of changing, or if he’s abusive. Martha needs to grow a backbone and leave if her husband is abusive. Bob needs to grow a conscience and stop doing stuff he knows hurts and upsets his wife. But last time I looked, you weren’t the Wizard of Oz and can’t give any of them any of those things, ya know? It’s stuff they have to do on their own.

What CrazyCatLady said. You’re in a terrible, no-win situation with knowledge of a bad situation that you have no control over, and no real say in. You could say something, and people get hurt. You could not say something, and people get hurt. I think you need to talk to someone who is more experienced with complicated, dangerous situations like this - perhaps you could call a women’s shelter and ask for a referral to a counsellor?

I think your primary responsibility is to your mother, and she’s apparently willing to put up with her husband fooling round with another woman.

Telling the other woman’s husband may point him at Bob, his wife, or you. Based on your described scenario I can assure you that pretty much no one will be grateful to you. It’s pretty much lose-lose all the way around for you as the informer.

What I really don’t get is why your mother hasn’t clued the other husband. You’d kind of expect her to be doing this. I can’t imagine what sweet nothings would keep me from ratting her out to her hubby. Does she feels she’s an inadequate wife somehow? Is she obese and/or non-sexual to Bob? There’s got to be some killer self esteem issue that’s making her keep her mouth shut.