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Jen Helant
Jen Helant, Counselor
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 1386
Experience:  I have a degree in psychology and worked with many couples. I am happily married and have been for 10 years.
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My husbands best friend died suddenly 3 weeks ago. They had

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My husband's best friend died suddenly 3 weeks ago. They had been friends for 31 years. The funeral was only last week. I helped him to write the eulogy and have been as supportive as I can. He has acknowledged this and told me how much he appreciates me and couldn't have done it without me. Neither of us has slept much in the past 3 weeks. It's like he's lost a limb. He invited his 1st love to the funeral and she came, I was as gracious as I could be and tried to keep my feelings of vulnerability in check. However, I discover he had changed his Facebook password XXXXX week, but he wouldn't say why. Other than he didn't want me to know it. On Monday he told me that he had been face book messaging his ex, had rung her and texted her. He said he had made a mistake, but then said he wanted to be able to communicate with her without being sneaky. He had even saved her name in the phone as a fictitious number and changed 2 digits in case she ever rang. At the time he was telling me all this he was also telling me how much he loved me, and that, if anything, this had increased since our friend had died. He said he wouldn't contact her again if I didn't want it. I tried to understand what he might want to contact her for, but he couldn't articulate it. I tried to get him to see how inappropriate it was. I was hurting so much. We had been so close recently and the fact he had deceived me and betrayed me feels terrible. We reached a kind of conclusion where he seemed to accept my feelings. I told him about the time an ex of mine had contacted me and how I had considered his feelings when rejecting the ex. He was still quite tender with me at that time.

In the morning I discovered that he had her number and the phoning and texting had happened. I was angry and upset. I told him I wanted him to delete her number from his phone and showed him an exchange I had had with my sister the night before. She was massively sympathetic and said it looked like he was trying to capture something from his ex that he had lost with his friend, but she said that I wasn't being unreasonable in not wanting that friendship to happen. I told him I was thinking of contacting her myself, he had said things to her about me and told her that he was communicating in secret - something she told him he needed to sort out. I wanted to try and regain some dignity.

He deleted the number from his phone and I made it clear I was extremely uncomfortable with what he had done and the prolonging of the relationship. He told me Ii had nothing to fear, that he had no interest in her, other than their shared past, and that she was happily married. nonetheless he accepted my views and we parted on OK terms to go to work.

I sent a very reasonable message to her to try to explain how I felt, I told her that I was sure she was lovely but that she belonged in the past and not now and that I was trying to move Chris forward.

We had had a gruelling time for various reasons - being there when our friend's flat was cleared, tracking down loads of old friends, writing the eulogy, travelling the 500 or so miles for the funeral. I sent a text to Chris to tell him what I had done and said that I wanted us to now move on. He agreed.

When I got home he could barely look at me and was obviously angry with me, although he implied it was my view and that he was just being normal. He kept being sarcastic, asking my permission for him to reply to an email from another friend because she was female, for example. Then he told me that he wanted to contact her even more now because of my objection. But of course, the unspoken thing is now that he can't because she is unlikely to respond after my message. She had replied to me to try to explain her position, she had said she wanted her husband to come to the funeral but he couldn't, and was as reasonable as I.

Now I feel destroyed. He clearly despises me. He has gone from being more loving than I have ever known him to be, to being cold and unpleasant within 24 hours.I don't know what to do. We are both almost deranged from lack of sleep. I haven't had a proper meal in weeks. I can't eat. And now I feel like our marriage is over. Oh, and the wake is tomorrow, 100 miles away.

I don't understand how I have become the bad guy.

Should I relent and tell her that we have now discussed things and that I don't object, or should I just accept our marriage is ruined? Either one sounds pretty bad to me.
Hi, I am sorry to hear about your husband's friend passing and all that you been through with this. I understand what you are going through and certaintly feel your dilemma. I think what has made things worse is the fact that he was in communication with her in secret. This indicates maybe some hidden underlying motions and caused you to become concerned. This is not just a female friend this is his ex. This may have been very innocent, but I do understand why you did not approve of it. Especially since he was hiding it. I don't understand why he needed to hide this from you. If he wanted just a friendship with her than he could have had that together with you or at least spoke to you about it first. I do not think your feelings are wrong and he did make an agreement with you regarding this. It may have not been necessary to email her since you were already working it out with your husband and it is really between the two of you and up to him to cut her off. However, I do understand why you did and what is important is not who is right or wrong, but rather how to fix it from here. Since your husband was very hurt by his friend's passing his feelings could have been all jumbled up and confused. This may have caused this type of behavior. It could be possible some old feelings came back that he was trying to get under control or he may have just been happy to see her as a friend and scared to admit that to you. We really do not know if more was going on or not. I would consider your relationship as a whole and if you trust him in general. Think about what his normal charachter would do and if this behavior is out of line with that or not. If this is not his normal behavior and you generally have a good relationship overall then I do not think that you should end the marriage due to this. I believe the two of you can get passed this. I understand your only options are to allow, separate, or stay upset. However, I believe this is a phase that will pass. Ultimately you need to look within yourself in order to make the best decision for your life. But from the outside looking in I think it would be best for you to apologize to him for emailing her and tell him you will trust him to be friends with her because you do trust him in general (if you do). Try to befriend her and her husband as well. Maybe you all can be friends together. Communicate with your husband about this in order to decide if this would indeed be a good idea for all of you. Overall, if he is going to do something that is not right he will and if he is not he will not. If you try to force something that he is not agreeing it can be counterproductive. One of you need to be able to make a compromise or end the marriage. I think if he sees you allowing the behavior then he does not need to do it in secret. If it is truly just a friendship then he will not have a problem with you involved in the friendship as well. Also, there will be no excuse to hide it. The way things have been going he has an excuse to hide it, so if indeed he is hiding something that is just helping him. Whereas if you allow it and he hides visits or calls that would indicate something more than friends is going on. If it truly is just a friendship there will be nothing to hide and everything could be done in front of you besides behind your back. Then you would be able to go from there depending on how things work out. Lastly, your option is to give him an ultamatum him choosing the friendship or you, but this leads into other issues as I have explained before regarding the fact if he wants to he will find a way even if he accepts not to. I would take this one step at a time and advise you to try what I said above before you think of separating. Separating is always an option, so why not save that for the last option. Many couples go through issues and bad times. Sometimes we go through phases and make wrong choices then realize they were wrong if we are lucky then we caught it in time to save our marriage. No marriage is perfect and I think through all that you have been through it is worth to try to give it another chance before ending it.
I wish you gentle wishes. I know this is a painful situation for you, but try dealing with it step by step. Don't allow this to keep you down because then it will be harder for you to think clear and make the right decisions. Take care of yourself, so you can be strong and think what is best for your life and marriage.

If you allow it then you will find out the truth either way. You will either see something is indeed going on and the guilt will not be laid on top of you if the marriage were to end and if he truly is just her friend this will be shown and proved while saving your marriage. Their friendship will probably even die down in little time or you may end up gaining a friend.

Please let me know if I can be of further help to you.


Jen Helant, Counselor
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 1386
Experience: I have a degree in psychology and worked with many couples. I am happily married and have been for 10 years.
Jen Helant and other Relationship Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Thank you! I was already thinking along the lines of doing that. I think I contacted her because he had already said things to her that weren't accurate. And probably to regain some control. But your reply has helped me unravel some of my very confused thoughts.
It truly is my pleasure to help. I wish you all the best in this situation and future.


I feel the need to add my contribution, because I don't agree with Jennifer about giving your seal of approval on creating friendship with his ex and her husband. Probably her husband wouldn't like it either, so you'll have an ally in saying NO. I would say your husband is out-of-control from grief, and his outreach to his ex was for comfort, probably also because she had had friendship with his best friend too. He's in the chaotic phase of his grief response, and intense anger is one of the feelings that are normal for him to have, and to turn that towards you is just a sign of his extreme vulnerability. While you're apologizing to him for contacting his ex, please let him know that you forgive him for getting angry at you for writing her--since you were just trying to stabilize your marriage by not adding unnecessary ghostly feelings from his past to the chaos of emotions you're both going through in the wake of his great loss. He apparently hasn't kept up a periodic contact with her before now, so there's no need to invite more unwanted guests into your marriage.


I agree with Jennifer that right and wrong aren't the appropriate attitudes to think about. But after any significant communications about their grief over the friend, they will only cause discomfort in your and her marriage if they build up a new relationship. It's best treated as a "greeting-card" relationship with the mutual well-wishing and respect for each other as well understood, but only special occasions (like this death) as possibly a real need to communicate. It sounds like his ex is very clear about that already. So you can get his anger to subside by showing that you respect it as you have already felt so much empathy in his grief.


Extreme Grief can push a couple apart or bring them together. And you just want to stop this temporary push-apart by respecting his grief and accepting his anger (which he's denying, but your acceptance via apologizing will work fine). After all, you're feeling grief too, WITH him, so you're emotionally unstable, underslept and vulnerable too. YOU NEED your closeness with him--but not with her. Nor does she NEED emotional closeness with either him or you. So let your husband know again how much you feel in this grief-storm too, and how much you need your closeness with him (that's what your question is hurting about).


Norman Brown

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Thank you for your contribution. What I did in the end was tell him I loved him, told him I knew I had upset him by contacting his ex, but that in fact her reply to me had been very helpful in letting me understand things a bit better. I told him I trusted him and didn't feel she was a threat, but that I was extremely hurt by the betrayal. And that I would leave the decision up to him to make any further contact, but that all I asked was that he told me what he decided and if he did contact her, he shared the content (generally) so I wasn't excluded.

It transpired that it was she that gave him her number, and she that had said it would be nice to keep in touch. In her reply to me she said that she thought they both had ghosts to lay to rest about some of the hurt in their relationship. When I told him that, he seemed surprised, as that had not occurred to him. He was more interested in seeing her old photos. So i said that before he considered contacting her again he should think about what he wanted to gain from it, because there was a chance that she was only thinking of her own needs and not his, and that however reasonable she may think that was, it may to be helpful to him.

During our conversation it became clear that things we had discussed recently were either forgotten or had taken on a different slant in his mind, just confirming the chaotic state you mentioned.

All I can do is hope that now all the formal grieving is out of the way we can create a new normal and hold on to the closeness and honesty that has come out of this. I have slept better since letting go of this thing I really don't have control over.

Your responses have been such a help. I really thought I was going to fall off the planet. I may not be back on solid land yet, but at least I'm holding on a bit better.

I'm glad you're recovering your balance somewhat. It's no surprise to me that your husband wouldn't realize there could be old feelings locked up inside that his ex is aware of and he is NOT--because very few men pay enough attention to their feelings to realize what's lodged inside that they just assumed was long gone down the river of time. In fact I use an image when I teach about recovering from the end of a significant love relationship that his situation fits very well:

No matter how well we try to grieve consciously after a love has gone (or after a death) (and men almost NEVER grieve consciously for more than a month or two, which is not very much, and that's why many cultures have "Memorial Day"s and anniversaries of deaths and lost-loves can be remembrance days. So picture the mass of good, bad, and sad feelings as a Native American burial mound (we have them in Florida above ground). You've let topsoil and some plants grow over the pile of your feelings for a parent, sibling, or el-love that is now gone from your life. But each time that you make contact with her (I'm using your husband as my subject now), you're unwittingly sticking your shovel of conscious attention into the side of your little hillock/mound of soil-covered feeling-memories. What you talk about is what you have pulled out on your shovel, and there might be nothing intense on it. Except in this case there's lots of intense feelings, because his conversation is about love and loss, of his best friend, and with his first "best love." That emotional intensity itself will bring out more intense feelings from his past with her that were much more buried. Or visualize that this way: When he pulls out a shovelfull from the side of his feeling-memory mound, there will be a small landslide of the topsoil above where his shovel went in. And that landslide will slide away from several outcroppings of feeling-memories that have not been noticed for many years. That's what has happened for her, and that's what she wrote to you--even though he's not paying enough attention to notice that he might have some old feelings sticking out too.

The good side of this is that when those old feelings come into consciousness in this way, they can give rise to some conscious thought, and that thinking can revise them in the context of his present life, so they are modified and reduced, which ultimately reduces the mass of the hillock/mound itself--though in principle, NO past-relation-burial-mound will ever become empty and part of a flat plain. By thinking about our past feelings each time they happen to come to the surface, we can revise them, redigest them, and revise who we are, as well as our relationship to all of our loves, both present and past.

So you could suggest to your husband that he write FOR HIMSELF, never to show or tell to you, about what his thoughts about his ex have been, as well as PARTICULARLY about his thoughts about his best friend. ("Thoughts" works much better for men than "feelings" as a name for this journaling, though every "feeling" has thoughts imbedded, and every "thought" is colored by its feelings.) This aspect of grieving is very valuable for everybody, and most people don't do it at all. I'd advise you to write about your feeling-thoughts about your former love(s) if any have come up. DREAMS are also very helpful at such times, because they contain symbolic guidance from higher wisdom (from Higher Power, or for churchgoers, from God) expressed thru our unconscious projection system of images, story-plots, words, sensations, feelings, and thoughts, whose aim is to show us how to gain new wisdom from our contact with the departed (or "lost love") so that our continued living can be richer for our conscientious honoring communication with the departed.

If it should please you or your husband to communicate with me about any of these options (at the very low fees this website charges), I will be happy to respond. I believe you already paid Jenhelant for her answer, so I'm not asking you to relist and pay me anything. For it is my legacy to offer learning about such a situation as you are experiencing, and tomorrow is my 70th birthday.

Thank you for the opportunity to think about your transition,

Norman Brown, PhD, LMarriage & Family Therapist, moving to Atlanta this month.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Hello and thank you so much for your informative and helpful response. You are clearly a very experienced and knowledgeable counsellor. I don't feel I can take more of your time, despite you kind offer, as I cannot afford even the modest fees of the site just now. One of the by products of all this is that it has been a very expensive time.

Just by way of bringing you up to date I would say is that he did send her a message telling her that I had left the decision to him, and that she could verify that with me. Several days later she sent me a message saying that she wanted to check this before contacting him and if I was uncomfortable with it in any way she wouldn't. But the next day she emailed him directly anyway, without giving me an opportunity to respond, telling him she had emailed me and saying she wanted contact too. Which made me very angry and upset and caused another discussion. We are both fed up with talking about it.

However, he has started to compose an email to her, essentially he feels bad about the way he treated her. He was a troubled young man and we have had several difficult times too, but resolved it with counselling many years ago. It seems he treated us both in similar ways. This has had the curious effect of reminding me of our difficult times and taking me back to painful memories that I thought were resolved.

Despite his repeated assurances that he has never felt more sure of his love for me, he can't seem to get how hurtful this all is, and how that doesn't make me feel loved. To me, this is a symptom of how irrational he is being. I can feel myself shutting off from him. It's affecting my health now too, whenever I think about it I get a kind of quivery feeling inside, like my heart is gong too fast. I'm going to visit the doctor to see if I can get something to stop it. I have also decided not to initiate any conversation about it with him and see if that helps.

Anyway, one day when this is all over I will let you know he it went. You have been so kind and have no idea how good it has been to have your help. I do wish I could pay you properly for this.

I hope you had a lovely birthday.