DEAR AMY: A very good friend of mine recently celebrated her two-year wedding anniversary. Unfortunately, this joyous event was marred by the discovery that her husband had cheated on her — for the third time (that we know of).
The first time he cheated was several months into their relationship. The second time was a week before their wedding. After that, she promised that she would never take him back if he did it again.
I’ve tried to be a good friend to her; I’ve listened to her and I’ve been there to pick up the pieces.
I was very unhappy when she took him back the first time, and I was exasperated and sad for her when she took him back the second time.
Now, after this third round of cheating, she says that he’s “changed” and that things will be different. She says his cheating was partially her fault. Now I can’t stand by and let it happen anymore.
When I confronted her about her taking him back, she became angry at me and implied that I couldn’t possibly know anything about it since I was not (and never have been) married. She’s 10 years older than me, and I think she feels this disqualifies me from giving her any advice on life at all.
I feel like her reluctance to let go and the fact that she’s allowing herself to be manipulated by this man is due to her being afraid that she won’t be able to find anyone else to love her.
What should I do? Should I stand by her even though I can’t stand the thought of her staying with him? Should I withdraw and let her do what she wants to do? Should I confront her fully and risk her never speaking to me again? — Frustrated Friend
DEAR FRUSTRATED: Here’s what disqualifies you from offering marriage advice to your friend (it’s not that you have never been married): She hasn’t asked you. Furthermore, I think that even if she ties you to the railroad tracks and begs you to tell her how to run her marriage, you should give her a neutral look and say, “Well, what do you think you should do?”
The only thing you are in charge of in this scenario is your side of the friendship. If your friend is a broken record about her broken marriage, you can offer: “I’m so sorry you’re so unhappy. It makes me incredibly sad. We don’t seem to get anywhere when we talk about this, so unless you have a question for me, maybe we should talk about something else.”
You should assume that your friend will continue on this path (of tolerating and excusing her husband’s infidelity) until she finds it too uncomfortable to maintain. Then she may come to you for advice — and you should offer it.
DEAR AMY: We often eat out with another couple. The husband has bad grooming habits in public. I am very disgusted seeing him clipping his nails at the table.
What is an acceptable way to let him know that this is not the way to behave in public? — Disgusted
DEAR DISGUSTED: I agree that this is beyond gross. I picture a clipped nail flying through the air and landing in the shrimp cocktail.
You should say, “Bart, would you mind not doing that at the table? It’s freaking me out.”
You aren’t necessarily telling him how to behave in public, but more reflecting the idea that this bothers you (and everyone else on the planet).
DEAR AMY: I can’t believe you sided with the woman who got mad at her boyfriend (“Stunned”) for keeping it a secret that her mom had a new man in her life. The mother asked him not to tell her because she wanted to do that herself.
He respected that, and you side with the stupid girlfriend who didn’t appreciate that he allowed her mother to tell her about it herself?
Sorry Amy. You really blew it on that one. — Upset
DEAR UPSET: I mainly fault the mother for putting her daughter’s boyfriend in the position of keeping an important personal “secret” for several weeks.