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Posted on Thu, Dec 1, 2011 : 5 a.m.

Wife struggling with email from 'friend' about cheating husband

By Carolyn Hax

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Dear Carolyn:

I just received an anonymous email from one of my "friends" saying my husband is cheating and has been for a while. She saw him at an apartment building, and the front-desk person indicated he is the boyfriend of someone who lives there. I am summarizing, but the email writer indicated that she used an anonymous email account because she doesn't want to jeopardize our friendship.

There was enough detail to suggest this is someone who knows me and my family. So now I am struggling with what to do with this information.

-- Cheating

Oh wow, I really feel for you -- the anonymous tip is a hideous way to get bad news.

If this particular coward is checking her* fig-leaf email account, though, at least you can ask follow-up questions. (*I'm using your pronoun here.) Anonymous notes preclude even that.

When you do ask the follow-up questions, also point out that the decision to remain anonymous has jeopardized all your friendships now, because you will have to regard all of your friends with suspicion of being the anonymous source. Then say you would be grateful to her for showing the courage to come forward.

And, finally, you need to show the email to your husband -- at some point. If you have reason to believe he'd respond poorly or play dirty (be brutally honest with yourself, please), then talk to a lawyer first to make sure your T's are crossed and your bank accounts and other valuables are safe.

--0-- --0-- --0--

Dear Carolyn:

My mom has breast cancer. Two days ago, they said there was more and it's worse than they thought. Everyone is positive about the outcome -- she'll be OK, right? I think she will, but every now and then I feel my chest constrict, and I can't breathe when I think she might not be OK. I don't know how I will survive on this earth if my mom is not OK. I hate cancer.

-- Anonymous

You will survive on this earth if your mom is not OK; you just haven't figured out how yet, because you haven't had to.

In the meantime, don't be afraid to have all the powerful feelings that are coming your way. Fear, panic, sadness, dread, those are the miserable ones. But you're also going to feel a big rush of love (if you haven't already), admiration, gratitude, protectiveness -- and you'll never forget those no matter what the outcome for Mom.

Remember, the only way you could avoid these big, overwhelming emotions is if you didn't care about your mom at all -- obviously not possible. But even if it were, I see that as so much worse than feeling devastated. I'd rather have been nuts about my mom and suffered though her illness with her than not to have loved her so much.

If this is how you feel, too, then keep this in mind through this process as a constant source of comfort. Also know that feelings can't stay big forever -- humans just can't sustain intense feelings for long. In between the floods you will be able to think clearly and with purpose, not just about Mom but some other things you're due to reassess in your life.

So, hang on. You'll be OK.

Email Carolyn at tellme(at), follow her on Facebook at or chat with her online at noon Eastern time each Friday at

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