Ethical Problem

Dale Archer, M.D. Wednesday, October 1, 2014 0
Ethical Problem

Dear Dr. Archer, 

I’m facing an ethical dilemma, and could use some advice. I am positive my best friend’s husband is cheating on her. I think she suspects this too, but she’s in denial. I feel obligated as a friend to tell her, but I also know how much this will hurt her. 

My husband says I should stay out of it. But if she finds out I knew about this and didn’t tell her, I’m afraid she will not forgive me for hiding it from her. Should I tell my friend what I know? 



Dear Katie,

There is no clear-cut answer to your question. Most folks would say they would want to know if their spouse was cheating on them. But when faced with the reality of such a scenario, this knowledge is not always welcome. You’ve heard of the phrase “don’t kill the messenger?” There’s a reason it became cliché.

In an ideal world, you would tell your friend what you know. She would confront her husband, he would confess, and ask for forgiveness. Then, they would either get a divorce, or work through this problem, and have a stronger relationship as a result. But unfortunately, this is rarely how it plays out in the real world. There are several factors you need to consider.

First, regardless of the outcome, realize you will be putting your friendship at risk. You mentioned what you “know.” Do you really “know” he is being unfaithful, or do you just suspect? That’s a critical difference. In most cases, when confronted, the accused spouse is going to deny everything. And unless you have concrete proof — not just rumor and circumstantial evidence — it will be your word against his. Your friend will be in the position of choosing to believe either you or her spouse.

Either way, your friendship will never be the same. If she believes him, the likelihood of your friendship surviving is practically non-existent. If she believes you, the fact that you are the “messenger” who delivered such personally devastating news would never be forgotten.

If you have concrete proof of infidelity, that does change the situation, but realize you still do not know what her reaction will be, or how this will affect her marriage or your friendship. I’ve seen many cases with concrete proof where the victim was in total denial and refused to accept reality.

That being said, here’s my advice: If you have real proof, then you need to tell your friend what’s going on, but be prepared for a wide range of reactions. If not, then wait and see how things develop before broaching the subject.

Dr. Archer


Dear Dr. Archer,

Can a lack of sleep cause depression? My job has required plenty of overtime, and since then I’ve been feeling down and depressed. I was wondering if these feelings could be the result of getting only a few hours of sleep nightly for the past few months.



Dear Darren,

In those with the potential for a chemical imbalance of the brain, any stress can serve as a trigger. Sleep is one way our brain recuperates from stress, so not getting enough can indeed cause symptoms of depression. Coupled with your overtime hours at work, I think there’s no doubt lack of sleep is part of your problem. Whether you have a true chemical imbalance at this time is difficult to say, but if you keep up this pace, you will almost certainly develop one.

Change your schedule, get more sleep, and see if the problem resolves itself. If you can’t change your hours, then take vacation time, and see how you feel after a week of rest. If you feel better, yet can’t reduce your hours at work, then you may need to make a choice between your job and good mental health. If you don’t feel better, even with more sleep, I recommend an evaluation for depression.


 Dear Dr. Archer, 

I have been seeing my boyfriend for the past several months. He’s always been a perfect gentleman, and pays for everything we do. However, recently an event occurred that has greatly concerned me about our future prospects. 

Before he went out of town on a business trip, he parked his car in a no-parking zone, causing it to get towed. There was a $500 fee to get his car back, but he couldn’t afford it, and asked me to pay the fine. I was glad to help, and did so. I am now worried that this could indicate financial instability. We’re considering getting married, but this is a huge problem for me. What do you think? 

Lou Ann 


Dear Lou Ann,

What’s the rush? You’ve only been dating this guy for several months, so take your time. This issue will sort itself out. Obviously, the situation you described is mildly concerning, but I also wonder why he has been the one to pay for everything? This is the 21st Century, and male/female roles today are much more equal than ever before.

I would assume that if he’s paid for everything up until now, that would surely represent substantially more money than the towing violation. I would discuss your concerns with him, but I would also advise you to pay more of your share going forward.

Keep your eyes and ears open for any further indication of financial instability, but don’t worry about making a long-term decision at this point. The beauty with most relationships is that if you take your time and get to know the other person, the answer as to whether to proceed or break things off will eventually be crystal clear to both parties.


Dr. Dale Archer is a board certified psychiatrist who founded the Institute for Neuropsychiatry in Southwest Louisiana. He is a frequent guest on Fox News, CNN Headline News and other national TV programs, and is the author of the New York Times bestselling book Better than Normal.  Visit him at