Felicity Huffman and her husband William H. Macy are among 50 people who have been accused of participating in a college admissions scandal. The stress of an event like this has most likely put strain on Huffman and Macy’s marriage. Will the couple’s relationship survive? What can you do to protect your marriage if you’re in the middle of a scandal?
The Cheat Sheet reached out to Tina B. Tessina (aka “Dr. Romance”), psychotherapist and author of How to Be Happy Partners: Working It out Together. Here’s what Tessina had to say about making sure your marriage stays intact during a major scandal.
The Cheat Sheet: How can you make sure your marriage stays strong after a major scandal breaks, such as the scandal with actress Felicity Huffman and her husband, William H. Macy?
Tina B. Tessina: Don’t blame each other. When we’re under attack it’s easy to panic, and panic can lead to fighting. Stay as calm as you can and remain a team. You’re both going to be blamed, so no matter who’s at fault, it’s best to present a united front.
CS: What are some things you shouldn’t do when it comes to protecting your marriage during a stressful time like a scandal?
Don’t panic: Do calming things, reassure each other, stay as calm as possible.
Don’t make spur-of-the moment decisions: You may not be thinking clearly, so weigh decisions carefully.
Don’t go it alone: Get professional advice. You may need legal advice or PR advice, and you will definitely need to talk to the wisest people you know. Don’t try to do this alone. Surround yourself with close friends and supportive family.
Don’t make statements: The first impulse is to defend yourself in the press, to your friends, even to law enforcement. Keep quiet. More may be revealed; it may turn out you weren’t part of the problem, and you also have to be careful not to incriminate yourselves unwittingly. So, keep quiet in public and in front of strangers, the press, law enforcement, and on social media.
CS: How can you protect your children’s mental health when they’re dragged into a major scandal?
TT: Protect them as best you can. It may be a good time for them to go to Grandma’s or some other safe place, especially if the media is involved. School isn’t necessarily a safe place. They could be teased and taunted, and the press might find them. Talk to the school about how to keep them up-to-date with their studies and keep them out of the public eye. Explain in terms they can understand that there’s a big story in the media, it’s not all true, and that you will keep them informed.
CS: Anything to add?
TT: As a couple, the most important thing is that you feel you’ve got each other’s backs through this. Be a team, strategize together, and be kind to each other.
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