Post # 1
After two years of ignoring all of the red flags, my best friend married her verbally and emotionally abusive fiancé.
On the wedding day, the bridesmaids discovered that each of us had independently tried encouraging her to rethink the marriage – but in each case she ignored the warnings and talked herself into believing that everything would be fine.
Well…now the wedding is over, and their fights are worse than ever. She calls me constantly, crying about something awful that he did or said, and I patiently stay on the phone and listen and try to comfort her. But it’s getting very old. I want to be supportive of her as my friend…but now that the marriage bond has made things somewhat ‘permanent,’ I realized that I could potentially be the primary emotional dumpee for the next 30 to 40 years if I don’t set some boundaries.
I should add that I do get along with the husband just fine (he is kind to everyone but her and their two dogs, which he disciplines by hitting – wait til they have kids!). However, every time I see him I can’t help but think about how poorly he treats her. The more she tells me about their fighting the less I want to be around him. Being her ‘counselor’ is eroding whatever nominal friendship I have had to establish with the groom.
I sort of feel like their fights should be a private issue now that they are a married couple. And without sounding cold, I feel like she made her own bed, and now she has to lie in it.
Is there a way that I can remain supportive of my friend without being a constant sounding board and/or shoulder to cry on?
Post # 3
This is a difficult one. That said, nobody should have to “lie in their own bed” of an abusive relationship. She probably “made that bed” because she had some serious self esteem issues and other problems. Problems you may not even know about. Regardless of her poor choice in marrying him, she doesn’t deserve this and needs help. I think you need to have a real heart to heart with your friend. Be gentle but firm. Tell her she needs to get out of this marriage and that her constantly calling you and telling you all about their fights is hurting your friendship. Tell her you want to always be there for her and that you love her, but this is too hard. Then set some boundaries. If she starts to talk about it, gently remind her of the conversation and change the subject. Good luck
Post # 4
@marie_antoinette: Not to be mean, but you sound a bit selfish
Your ‘friend’ is going through a rough time, and you are just annoyed that you have to hear about it–when you may be the only person she feels she can confide in
I don’t know if the husband is 100% the problem (I doubt it), if I were her friend I would urge her to seek couples counseling, or at least individual counseling at first. Then she can discuss these issues with a therapist and leave her convos with friends to more superficial topics.
But if you really don’t like her and don’t care to continue the relationship, just tell her you’re tired of hearing her whine about her relationship–that from now on her fights with her husband are not to be discussed–this may end the friendship but if she isn’t that close of a friend then it’s not much of a risk. Even if she doesn’t seek out a therapist she will find someone else to call about her relationship problems
Post # 5
@jackndiane: Thanks for your advice. I had several very deep and honest heart-to-hearts with her before the wedding. I went as far as I felt I could go without damaging our friendship.
She does have self-esteem issues and somehow feels like she ‘deserves’ this kind of relationship, which is unfortunate because she is a smart girl. In fact she was a psychology major. She recognized his abuse problem and knew what she was getting into, but married him anyway because she was afraid to back out of the relationship, the wedding, the house they bought together, etc., and believed he would change.
I like your idea of telling her that hearing about all of the fighting is hurting our friendship – that might work well. Thank you.
Post # 6
@sylvia.riggle: I appreciate your perspective. I don’t feel like I am being selfish because I have been her confidante in this situation for two and a half years now. I have just become so tired of hearing about the fighting despite how much I genuinely care about my friend and her emotional health. I have encouraged her to seek couples counseling, or counseling for herself, over and over again, but she will not. It is hard to be the emotional sounding board when the problem never gets resolved and time just keeps passing. I do care about my relationship with her, we have been friends for 12 years. I guess the best thing would be to tell her I can’t talk about the fighting anymore. Thank you.
Post # 7
Been there, done that. It is HARD to stand back and watch a friend be treated like dirt and even harder to have to listen to it. I have a friend who is in a similar situation. When they first got together I told her numerous times how I felt, but she stayed with him. Things got out of hand once, police were called then she took it all back and said he never hit her, that she made it all up. At that point I drew the line with her. I told her ” I love you, you are one of my best friends. I don’t support your relationship, but it is your choice to stay. Leave me out of it from now on, the drama is between you two and it’s not fair to me to get me all riled up then stay.” Our friendship would not have survived otherwise. You HAVE to have boundries.
Post # 8
Another idea is maybe you can “help” her find a counselor that she can talk to. Sometimes we may need someone to put the fire under us to get things going. Maybe explain to her how finding couseling is not only important to her but your relationship with her also. And that you dont want to abandon her in her time of need but your willing to help her find someone who can help her get through.
Post # 9
And FYI I dont think your selfish at all. Sometimes other peoples problems can start to affect you and your relationship.
Post # 10
My father is and has always been emotionally abusive, neither my mother nor my brother will admit this even though my brother shows obvious psychological signs of the abuse and my sister-in-law refuses to see my father anymore. After my wedding I hope that I can cut ties completely. My mother, his wife, acts just like someone that is in a physically abusive relationship — she bows to his every need or want, tries to avoid confrontations with him, makes excuses for his behaviour, and she even blames others for starting arguments, etc. As a child I would pray that she would leave him so that I wouldn’t have to live with him, but she hasn’t and she never will.
As a friend to someone in a similar situation, I would say that you definitely need to speak with her and lay down some ground rules about your relationship. Let her know that you want to continue being friends, but that it’s unfair to you for her to dump all of the stress and emmotions from her marriage onto you. You spoke your piece about her decision to get married and she did it anyway; let her know that you don’t have any advice that would be supportive of their union. You could even suggest that seeing a counsellor would be a good way of having someone to express everything to without putting strain on her personal relationships.
I know that this is easier said than done, but ultimately if she keeps doing this you are going to resent your relationship with her.
Post # 11
gosh i feel like i could have written this about my sister (though they arent married, they do have a baby together) I am the constant go to person for venting and we have gone around and around in circles with it. At first i tried being just supportive and a good listener and tried to make her feel better about her situation but it’s gotten to the point where its just tiring – nothing i say or do will changer her situatuion. She will change when she wants to. so i’ve decided to take another stance and that is being “real” with her and very upfront about what i think, how i feel about it and what i think she should do. I’ve told her numerous times that i will come and pack her stuff up and help her get out of there but she has to be the one to make the call, i can’t do it for her. I continue to be supportive in any way i can but instead of being nice about it now i’m being blunt about it, even if it kinda stings. She called me crying the other night saying she can’t do it anymore and she needs an ‘intervention’ then i hear from my mom 2 days later they are talking baby names..wtf! i really just want to give up and tell her have fun..whatever but as her sister i have to continue to be there in whatever way i can.
I dont know if she likes to hear what i have to say but probably not as i’ve seen a little decrease in venting which is fine by me. I love her and i don’t mind being there for her but its tiring for me! i can’t even imagine how she feels. Sometimes i’ll tell her things and think back and say wow that was really harsh or mean but it was true and she needed to hear it. maybe thats what you need to do with her? not sure how comfortable you feel doing that though.
Post # 12
I don’t think you are selfish at all. I know exactly how you feel, a very good friend of mine is in an awful marriage and I’ve been through literally years of her crying to me about it, with me giving her the same advice over and over, which she in turn never takes. She knows 100% that I will be there for her if she ever decides to leave or do something to improve her situation, but if she is not going to take any action than this is her choice. Part of me feels like she almost enjoys the martyr role, having everyone pity her for putting up with her horrible husband. I’ve never told her these things specifically, but I now try to steer clear of the subject entirely, I don’t ask about things that could lead to a discussion of how miserable her marriage is, and if she starts going in that direction I keep it at a high level so it doesn’t get down to an hour long crying session. I love her and wish the very best for her, but if she is not willing to help herself there is obviously nothing I can do to help her either.
Post # 13
You aren’t being selfish at all! I was in a similar situation with a friend and her “boyfriend when he felt like it”. He was very abusive to her and I was the sounding board for her. She never did anything to change the situation and I got tired of hearing it. I couldn’t watch my friend let this go on anymore. It did a number on our relationship and I seriously hated this guy so our friendship drifted. I refused to listen to it anymore and we eventually stopped talking. She is no longer with him and we are starting to mend our friendship. But it took a year or two before we spoke to eachother.
Its tough. But you have to be firm with the rules. A therapist would be a better sounding board for her.
Post # 14
others have already given advise but im another one that doesnt think you are being selfish – you can only be sympathetic to the same problem for so long before you are sick of hearing it because the person keeps repeating the same pattern
Post # 15
Thanks everyone, I appreciate all of your comments. Glad to know I am not the only one in this situation.
I think I am going to try using the tactic of steering clear of the subject when she brings it up (or not offering much more than an ‘I’m sad to hear you’re fighting again, so sorry but I have to go’).
I will get back to this post and let you know how it turns out after a while.
Post # 16
@marie_antoinette: Just wanted to say you are not selfish. Your friend is going through a tough time, but as an adult, she’s going to have to come to the realization herself. If crying to you on the phone every day isn’t going to, nothing will. And eventually, the topic will have to change.