Dear Coleen

My husband and I have a group of close friends we’ve known for years – all couples with children of a similar age to ours. It was always a very nice friendship group and we’ve all kept in touch and helped each other out over the past few months in lockdown.

Then about two weeks ago, my husband was contacted by one of men in the group, who told him he was leaving his wife as she’d been having an affair. He’s distraught and in shock, but all the guys have rallied round to support him.

However, the rest of the group haven’t got a good word to say about his wife now – who has actually always been a lovely person – and have frozen her out. I know it’s because they feel for her hubby, which is understandable – apparently he walked in on her and another man having a virtual sex session, which must have been awful.

I feel I should reach out to her, though, despite the fact I’m shocked about what she’s done, but I don’t think the rest of our friends will support that decision, as their ­sympathies lie with her husband.

What would you recommend?

Coleen says

There’s often a taking of sides when this kind of thing happens. It seems obvious from the outside who’s in the wrong here, but you don’t actually know what goes on in people’s marriages – and there’s always two sides to every story.

If you want to reach out to her, I don’t think you should worry about what the rest of the group thinks. You don’t even have to discuss it with them. It sounds as if you’re worried about how it’s going to reflect on you and how it’ll affect your friendships with the group.

But reaching out to this woman doesn’t mean you have to get involved in the drama or take sides – you can simply say: “I don’t know what’s gone on or why it happened, but I don’t want you to feel as if you’re on your own.”

I think it’s very hard in this situation when you get on well with both ­partners. But if the rest of your friends question you, just explain you’re not condoning what she did, but that you don’t know about their marriage and shouldn’t judge her. Equally, if the rest of your mates don’t want to engage with her, that’s their decision.

My first marriage ended because of affairs and my sisters actually remained great friends with my ex and even stayed with him when they were in London.

At first I thought: “Hmm, I’m not sure I’m OK with that.” But, actually, over time I’m glad they maintained those friendships because my ex was and still is an important person in our lives and, of course, he’s the father of my sons.

Hopefully, when the dust settles and emotions are less raw, people might be able to take a more balanced view.

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