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Marilyn Barnicke Belleghem M.Ed.

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Feeling Powerless to Help a Friend with Adultery?
by Marilyn Barnicke Belleghem M.Ed.   
Rated "PG13" by the Author.
Last edited: Sunday, April 08, 2007
Posted: Wednesday, August 02, 2006

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Tips to assist someone going through a crisis of discovering their spouse has committed adultery, lied and cheated without getting caught up in the drama.

When infidelity threatens a marriage friends and family may feel helpless and angry. It is hard to console the tearful person who has been betrayed. Angry outbursts erupt then they may be collapsing in despair. Children are left bewildered.


You can help if you:


1.      listen carefully without immediately taking sides.

2.      meet immediate needs like child care and meal preparation.

3.      don’t promise everything will be alright. It may not be.

4.      don’t fuel the hurt or anger by adding your own evaluations. This couple may reconcile.

5.      don’t gossip.

6.      don’t lie for either party.

7.      ask questions to help the thinking process.

8.      accept that the stories will be repeated many times possibly with some changes as new information is learned.

9.      encourage the couple to get professional help.

10. don’t get so involved that it hurts your own family.


Many couples struggle through adultery and learn to build a stronger marriage.


They can learn to:


  1. rebuild trust.
  2. communicate openly.
  3. identify what went wrong.
  4. learn from their mistakes.
  5. change their behaviour.
  6. laugh together again.
  7. improve their physical relationship.
  8. forgive.
  9. set new goals.
  10. build a stronger committed bond.


If the marriage is beyond salvation they eventually can:


  1. redirect their lives.
  2. let go of anger and resentment.
  3. accept some responsibility for their part in the breakdown of the marriage.
  4. need less of your support.
  5. grieve what they lost.
  6. enjoy the good memories.
  7. help their children adjust.
  8. be involved in a new relationship.
  9. look back with understanding of what went wrong.
  10. have an adult relationship with their former spouse.


Recovery is a long process. Don’t rush it and you will have a sense of being a good friend in time of need and feel positive and powerful with your ability to walk through the difficult time with your friend or family member.


Web Site: Quest Publishing Canada

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Reviewed by Aubrey Hammack 8/2/2006
This is a good article. You are right on target. It reminds me of how many times inlaws take sides when couples are arguing only to leave ill will when the couple make up, which they many times do.
Reviewed by Chrissy McVay 8/2/2006
This was very helpful. My sister's husband was unfaithful. They divorced, but were able to be friends years later. We did listen, but stayed at a distance. You are truly right about not becoming too involved.

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