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The downside of getting involved in a friend’s marital problems

Published: May 11, 2012 | Last Updated: June 30, 2013 By | 3 Replies Continue Reading
 It can be very tricky for a friend to become involved in a couple’s marital problems.


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 because of their marital problems. 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


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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Category: Husbands, boyfriends, and friendship

Comments (3)

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  1. Sasha Cohen says:

    I have been in a similar position before but I was the one having the issues. I basically kept most of it to myself because I didnt want my friends involved. So instead I sought online communities and people to help me through the difficult times. I have struggled in the past with marriage issues and have now finally gotten to a point where we are happy. There are many pieces of advice I have for married couples. One of the biggest pieces of advices is to seek help and advice. I found a lot of inspiration through Dr Robi Ludwig. Here is a really good article about her advice on marriage. I finally encourage others to read it, and hopefully it will help you like it helped me. I can say that it saved a lot of my friendships at the end of the day.

  2. Mitsy says:

    I think if a couple is having marital problems, that’s your cue to back away from the situation. If it makes you uncomfortable, and you obviously can’t fix what is wrong, it’s better to hang back a bit.

    If the woman wants to confide in you, you can be a listening board without making a lot of judgmental comments or giving a lot of advice about their situation. I also think it’s better to not tell one spouse what the other spouse says, especially if it could be used against the other. That is why if infidelity is going on (and you know it for a fact), it’s best to play dumb about it as eventually the one being cheated on will find out anyway. If they find out from someone else, they not only resent their spouse, they also resent the “messenger”. I’ve seen situations like that happen before. No sense in getting involved–it’s their issue, not ours.

    Lastly, the fact that this woman allowed herself to get pregnant with an unstable marriage in the mix shows she’s not using the best judgment. Some women seem to think that a baby will help a bad marriage. It usually just causes more stress & then there’s another kid to think about when they eventually do divorce.

    No one’s marriage is perfect so there will be rocky times for almost anyone but tread lightly on giving “marriage advice” if you think that might backfire on you later. If a couple is having way too many problems, you can’t afford to get too close to it. It’s best to stay out of it entirely.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I find it very strange when I meet couples who are best friends, who somehow think loyalty includes getting involved in someone else’s martial problems. You never get INVOLVED…a friendship has NO weight incomparsion to a marriage… Apologize for intruding, even if the husband is lying about what he said to your husband…then going forward, do NOT discuss or listen to her matial issues…any opinion you would say in the furture could bring all these issues back up…even if she is pouring her heart out to you, tell her you are praying for them, but you prefer to not be informed of private details. I think your friendship can blossom again, as women, not couples.

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