I told my husband a secret, and now he says he must betray the confidence

DEAR HARRIETTE: I recently told my husband about my best friend’s affair. My husband now feels that it is his job to tell my friend’s husband about it.

Harriette Cole 

He promised me that he wouldn’t say anything, but he keeps mentioning it to me and telling me he feels morally obligated to say something. I told him that my friend confided in me, so he would be betraying my trust if he said anything to her husband.

Should I warn my friend that my husband may say something to her husband?


DEAR BETRAYAL: The problem with secrets is that it can be almost impossible to keep them.

Of course, it should be a given that secrets held between spouses should be inviolable, but you are seeing that this just isn’t always true. Same goes for secrets between best friends.

This situation is already messy. I do think you should warn your friend that her secret is no longer safe with you.

Meet up with her so that you can talk about this in person. Apologize for letting her down by revealing her secret. Point out that you thought you could share anything with your husband confidentially, but he feels like he has to say something, so you wanted to give her the heads-up so she can handle her business herself.

Do not get caught up further in this mess, though. Stop talking about it with your husband. Let your friend know you think she should figure out her next steps — namely if she wants to save her marriage, what does she plan to do? Stay out of the details. Yes, you love her, but this is her life, not yours.

DEAR HARRIETTE: Last year, my sister suffered two miscarriages. She is still understandably devastated and can’t even talk about pregnancy without crying. My husband and I found out a few days ago that we are expecting. How do I break the news to my sister? It feels so cruel to expect her to be happy for me right now, but I have to tell her.

Great News, Poor Timing

DEAR GREAT NEWS, POOR TIMING: Without expectations for how your sister will receive your good news, you are right — you must tell her. Do so in person if at all possible. Check in with your sister to see how she’s doing. Listen to her to get a gauge on her mental state. Having had a miscarriage myself, I understand how blinding the emotional pain can be. And still, your sister will likely be able to find a space in her heart to have joy for you.

Set up the moment by letting her know that you have some bittersweet news to share with her. Then reveal that you just learned about your pregnancy. Even though this is a tender time for her, you knew you had to share the news with your sister. Do not feel that you need to go through a blow-by-blow of each moment of your pregnancy. Share details when she asks. Do not feel hurt if she distances herself at first. Give her space to come to terms with what this means for her.

Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to askharriette@harriettecole.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.

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