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What to Say to a Friend When She Finds Out Her Husband Is Cheating

by Kathryn Rateliff Barr

Your friend is hurt and angry because she has discovered that her husband is cheating. As her friend, you can help her resist the impulse to become a recluse and nurse her hurt feelings, according to Huffington Post relationship columnists Maryjane Fahey and Caryn Beth Rosenthal. You can’t remove all of her pain, but you might help her take care of herself and weather the storm a bit more easily.

Affirm Her Worth

Your friend’s ego has taken a huge hit, according to gender research psychologist Peggy Drexler, Ph.D., in a Psychology Today article titled “After the Affair: The Uncertain Road to Healing.” Affirm her self-worth by reminding her what an awesome person she is. Make your compliments specific to what you know about her, such as her strength under pressure, her skills as a mom or her ability to keep it together for her family. Tell her what an awesome woman she is for continuing to love her husband or how amazed you are that she didn’t kick him to the curb immediately.

Reinforce Self-Care

Remind your friend to take care of herself during this stressful time, suggest Fahey and Rosenthal. If she is looking a little haggard and sad, resist the impulse to chastise her for not taking care of herself when you can offer to do things with her that are good for her. Offer to go with her on a spa date or take an evening off to see a light-hearted movie. Encourage her not to eat that quart of ice cream or half a cheesecake by herself to feel better -- take a small piece yourself and invite her to share her thoughts with you. Take her to dinner or cook her dinner at your house so she gets some quality nutrition and then take her home early with a reminder to get some sleep.

Redefining Her Image

Her self-image might have taken a hit if her relationship with her husband is a large part of her identity, suggests Drexler. Help her redefine her self-image by pointing out other roles she has that are going well, such as her job or how she cares for her family. Encourage her not to take on the role of a victim, but take control of as much of the situation as she can by determining her response to the affair, getting counseling, confronting her spouse or comforting the kids.

Friendly Support

The situation might not look positive today, but she can move forward with her life. Encourage her to make at least one plan to do something she enjoys. Employ humor to help her laugh a little, such as reminding her of a humorous event you experienced together, suggests the Glamour’s article “6 Things That Might Actually Help Comfort a Friend During a Break Up.” Promise you will be there for her and offer to listen when she needs a sympathetic ear.

About the Author

Rev. Kathryn Rateliff Barr has taught birth, parenting, vaccinations and alternative medicine classes since 1994. She is a pastoral family counselor and has parented birth, step, adopted and foster children. She holds bachelor's degrees in English and history from Centenary College of Louisiana. Studies include midwifery, naturopathy and other alternative therapies.

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