Last night my husband and I saw the movie, “The Dilemma”. In case you haven’t heard of it or seen it, it’s about a man who catches his best friend’s wife in public kissing, hugging and being very flirty with another man. He carries this secret with him for an entire week while he contemplates the best way to break the news to his oldest and dearest friend who also is currently under a lot of stress and dealing with a bleeding ulcer. He doesn’t want to hurt his friend but carrying this secret is (for comedic relief purposes) is putting him in situations that are hazardous to his health and life. He asks for advice from family and even strangers about how to handle the situation and finds that most people opt not to say anything at all in fear that their friend will behave in such a way as the “shoot the messenger” metaphor implies, which simply means to lash out at the blameless bearer of bad news. He further adds insult to injury by confronting his best friend’s wife and threatening to tell her husband the truth about her affair if she won’t do it. This puts him in additionally compromising situations when she threatens to turn the story around, deny everything and in fact, suggest that her husbands’ friend has been making passes at her (which would probably lead to the end of their friendship and she gets to continue her rendezvous) all along.
I won’t tell you how the movie ends but I can tell you that the subject matter in this film prompted a lot of discussion between my husband and myself both before and after the movie. Interestingly, I went into the movie with a different point of view than when I left the movie theater. When I went in I thought, if it were my friend I’d really have to handle it on a case by case basis. I knew some of my friends would be more capable of handling the news that others. I also knew some would be incapable of handling this type of news and would likely have a “shoot the messenger” reaction. Both going in and coming away from the movie my husbands’ stance was that he would never provide such information to a friend. He felt that this type of news should be found out on ones own and not delivered by a friend. Prior to the movie I was slightly angered that he could call himself a friend and withhold that type of information. I brought up the following points:
1. Your friend might want to know this information.
My husband felt that while some of his friends could handle hearing such devastating news and others couldn’t he still shouldn’t tell. Not so much because of the “shoot the messenger” possibility but because he doesn’t see how it would help the person/marriage in question to know the information. And in fact, regardless of the reaction, he feels that no on really wants to know this information. My husband reminded me that women have a strong intuition and probably know what’s going on in her marriage before the friend even decides to tell. It’s not helpful to tell because for the most part when the message is delivered the blabber mouth doesn’t just leave it at that. He or she often gases his/her friend up offering advice about what he or she should do (which is often to dissolve the marriage). Even if there is a possibility for the couple to recommit to their marriage and work it out after hearing such news, sometimes friends can get in the way of that with their advice. He reminded me that there are three entities in a marriage, Man, Wife and God. When we are not one of those entities…we should stay out of other people’s marriages even if it is our very good friend. I must say, good point hubby!
2. Your friend’s spouse is potentially putting him/her at risk for sexually transmissible diseases.
With the highest numbers of new HIV infections occurring in black females I felt its our duty to inform our friends about their cheating spouses. My husband’s rationale is that there are so many other contributors to that statistic such as intravenous drug users, rapists, the superman/superwoman complex (people choose not to protect themselves because they think it can’t happen to them) and lack of educational/preventive programs amongst people in impoverished areas. While we do recognize that people can encounter STDs by cheating and we’ve all heard the stories about “down low brothas” infecting their wives it is true that this isn’t the only way the disease is transmitted. We would hope that those who choose to be unfaithful would at least protect themselves but despite the possibility for bodily harm of a person you call friend, the hubby still ain’t telling. At that point I started joking with him about following the “no snitching” rule to which he responded, no, we just need to be concerned with our own marriages and let God deal with the marriages of others. Another good point, albeit the same point hubby!
I starting thinking about whether or not I would want to hear this news from a friend. There were so many things to consider which I think lead to the “shoot the messenger” reaction. Do you believe your friend? Do you believe your husband/wife? Do you really want to hear his/her advice after they tell you what they saw? Do you really want to dissolve your marriage? Do you really want to break up your family? Can/should you work through the issues in your marriage? How would God have you to handle this information? These are all questions one might grapple with after hearing such news. I left the movie with two thoughts. First, my hubby is right. We should stay out of other people’s marriages simply because, 2. it’s the way God intended. The word of God offers us the following:
What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. Mark 10:9.
So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate. Matthew 19:6.
Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous. Hebrews 13:4
Have you ever thought about the possibility that knowing your friend’s spouse is cheating is God’s way of testing if YOU will handle the situation according to God’s word? It says let no man put asunder. Not only does this go for us as outsiders of others marriages, but the Man and Woman within the marriage are also accountable. Reading these verses makes me feel that its better to let God deal with the matters of adultery. I believe firmly that sometimes things can and will happen, not only in our marriages but in our daily lives, that are used to test our faith. There is great possibility even after hearing or finding out on your own such bad news. Maybe this is an opportunity for God to touch the heart of the adulterer. I have two great friends that are married, dealt with infidelity and God did some awesome things in their marriage. They started a marriage ministry at their church. They’re thinking of writing a book to inspire couples who choose to stay together after infidelity. Even as hard as it might be to hear the news that a spouse is cheating, we must remember that God can heal anything. He promised to take care of us if we just continue to be obedient to his word. Now, I’m not saying this is the case for every marriage, but the role WE play and our actions can certainly affect the outcome of a marriage challenged by infidelity.