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Getting Involved in Someone Else's Marriage Is Always Risky Business

Even when you are well-intended, it can backfire.

QUESTION

Dear Irene,

I have a friend with whom I haven't really been in contact with for about nine months.

My husband heard her husband say some really nasty things about her. Their marriage was already having some issues and she led us to believe that she was getting ready to leave him. So my husband thought she should know what her husband was saying behind her back. She confronted her husband and he lied to her, and she decided to take his side over ours.

We had been the best friends anybody could ever ask for. We were there for them no matter what, even when their families weren't. We would babysit their two children without question.

After what happened, things got heated. We felt hurt and betrayed, and we really got to see just how much they took advantage of our friendship. But now I miss her and her children. She hasn't really given us an apology but I can tell she's sorry and that she really misses us as well.

My husband isn't quite ready to forgive her. I saw her mother-in-law at the grocery store and found out she's pregnant again and has been having a hard time. I want to be there for her, but I don't want to get hurt again. What should I do?

Signed, Laura

ANSWER

Hi Laura,

It's always difficult for outsiders to get involved when a husband and wife are having marital problems. Although well intended, your husband probably made a mistake by getting in the middle. Given that he did, both your friend's as well as her husband's response are somewhat predictable. She likely was defending him and denying the problems in her marriage---to herself and you.

This situation had to make your friend feel hurt and embarrassed. I'm not clear why you think she owes you an apology---any more than your husband owes one to her and her husband for getting between them.

One way to resurrect the friendship might be for you to get together with your friend and talk about what happened. For now, I would leave your husbands out of the equation. You could start by inviting her to lunch and telling her you miss her. She might reject you or the conversation might go badly but those are risks you would have to take if you want to reconnect.

However, I am concerned that you feel taken advantage of in the friendship. If this is a pattern in this friendship and others, you need to be cautious about doing more than you want to do for a friend and then feeling resentful.

Hope this helps.

Best, Irene

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