Q. I was recently at a boozy couples’ dinner party with friends. I went outside for a cigarette and was followed by my husband’s best friend.
We had a passionate kiss and fondled. I am wracked by guilt and shame. Should I tell my husband?
A. It’s all too easy to lose track of alcohol intake at a dinner party — measures are usually generous and it’s free. Regardless, we need to take responsibility for the amount we drink and for our actions.
Let’s look at what happened: you passionately kissed your husband’s best friend and there was fondling. If you heard that it was your husband with your best friend, how would you feel? This gives you some clue about whether it would be a good idea to tell your husband.
You are ashamed and sorry it happened at all. If you tell him, is it to help offload your guilt, to get some relief ? It’s vital to take a step back and ask: what will this stir up? Telling your husband may awaken jealousy and break a core trust which, once broken, can take a long time to repair. He may go through many different emotions, including anger, hurt and rejection.
Then, there is his friendship. That could also be destroyed. Sometimes, the other party is blamed because it can be too much to look at the intimate partner’s part in the incident. Jealousy focuses the mind on the disloyalty and a partner could then start imagining all sorts of scenarios.
To put things in perspective: you haven’t had an affair. You did something you regret and are carrying a lot of guilt because of it. But if you love your husband and being with him is what is really important in your life, what is to be gained by throwing a hand grenade into the relationship?
This might be a chance for you to look at how you are in your marriage. Could you do more together on your own, as a couple, to strengthen your commitment and love? Socialising with friends is an important part of life, but to strengthen the couple-bond you need to do fun things together. Go on dates, and, even at home, have some time to talk and put the ‘oomph’ back into the relationship. Think about how you will go forward with your friends - be very careful not to let yourself get into a similar situation, and, if you do, take responsibility and step away. Watch alcohol intake - inhibitions get lowered and risks can be taken. In the cold light of day, we have time to think and wish we hadn’t taken the risk. Incidents like this have the potential to do damage far and wide.
Marie Daly is a psychosexual therapist with Relationships Ireland; visit www.relationshipsirleland.com.
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