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Stuck in a friendship rut

July 11, 2013 | By | 12 Replies Continue Reading
The only way to get out of a friendship rut is to take steps to initiate change.

Question

Hi Irene,

Whenever we see my friend, her husband always insists that my husband drink a couple of beers with him. My husband is such a nice person but can be a pushover most times. I have problems with him drinking because:

1. I don’t like him drinking alcoholic beverage before eating because when he does this, he usually gets an upset stomach.
2. Safety reasons. I can’t drive at nights and he has to drive home.
3. My husband sometimes get hung over after a couple of bottles; he is not used to drinking and NO, I don’t want him to get used to it.

I realize this is something that my husband has to handle on his own, but he has a problem saying no, and he says that it makes him feel like a total dope to turn his alcohol invites down.

So, what I do is when this friend asks my husband to drink with him—before meals—is to tell my husband IN FRONT of this friend to eat first and remind him about the last time he had a stomachache after drinking on an empty stomach. To which this friend says: “Oh come on, it’s just a bottle or two of beer, it ain’t gonna hurt him!”

I have tried to tell this guy numerous times about my concerns, but he “jokes” about me not giving my husband some man time. He usually says, “Oh come on man, are you really not going to drink a bottle? Come on, man up! Are you going to listen to her?” So my husband obliges.

My husband and I have talked about this several times and have been better at turning down other drinking invites, except for with this friend. No, the friend doesn’t have drinking problems, but my concern is my husband, not my friend’s husband.

What irritates me is that this guy would make comments about me controlling my husband. Well, his wife can’t control his affairs with other women, but I just listen and keep my mouth shut. Why should he comment about how we live our life? If I don’t want my husband drinking, that’s for a good reason.

I have considered talking to the wife- my friend about this, but have opted to keep mum because I’m trying to avoid possible adverse reactions.

My husband is not friends with her husband. In fact, my husband hates his being obnoxious, but he tries to be cool for my sake. Since my husband hates seeing him anyway and I have tried turning down invites for dinner at their house or meet-ups. There are other reasons as to why I want to see them less, but that’s out of the topic.

But I am running out of excuses and I do want to see my friend once in a long while. I have suggested just us (the girls) meeting up with her kids, but she says it’s too stressful for her to go out so she’d rather have a potluck at her house. Ugh!

My husband’s been okay not going with me when I go to their house (he’d rather stay home actually than endure friend’s husband), but I’d like to please have suggestions on how to deal with this situation in the future? Thank you so much and I’m sorry if this sounded too stressful.

Signed, Annie

Answer

Hi Annie,

What a mess! No wonder you are stressed. You have problems you need to resolve with both your husband and with your friend.

In terms of your husband, if he can’t drink—because it makes him sick and/or unable to drive—you need to let him know firmly that you will not tolerate his drinking under these circumstances. You also need to do your best not to place him in any situation that encourages him to drink. Moreover you should work out these problems at home, making efforts to be supportive rather than demeaning him in public.

If your husband seems to have problems saying no in a variety of circumstances, he may need to speak to a counselor who can help him develop self-confidence and learn to be more assertive.

In terms of your friend, you need to let her know that, for a variety of reasons, some having to do with her husband and some having to do with her, that it isn’t viable to spend time together as a couple and that you want to maintain a relationship as girlfriends rather than couples. You can’t keep making up excuses of why you don’t want to see them. If you do, you are just as likely to “ruffle feathers” as you would by telling her the truth.

If it feels too stressful for you to be at her house, you have the right to ask to get together on neutral ground. It seems like you should both have a voice in setting the ground rules for the friendship. If she sets all the conditions, I don’t think this is much of a friendship.

Hope this helps.

Warm regards, Irene


Here are some prior posts on The Friendship Blog about couples and their friendships that may be of interest to you:

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Category: Husbands, boyfriends, and friendship

Comments (12)

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  1. Barb says:

    This couple sounds like trouble. The husband is drinking, pushing drinking on others and out having affairs. The wife is stuck at home raising the creep’s children, no life, and unhappy and ready to take it out on any of her remaining friends such as you.

    I would think twice about having either of them as friends. Meet some better friends, some who do not push you to do things you do not want to do. Ask yourself why this woman has no other friends. It is not because she had children either.

  2. ModMudd says:

    You butting in in front of the friend’s husband may be a problem as well. Never maternally “wag your finger” and tell your man what to do in front of other men. It backs them into a corner and into potentially embarrassing situations where they feel like they need to “prove” their manhood or personal power. Express your concern in private but your best bet is to leave the decision up to your husband. If he feels like he can handle drinking responsibly-fine,he can make that choice. If he doesn’t want to drink- fine as well!

    But he needs to learn how to make a responsible decision (taking your feelings into account) and to be more assertive with others.If he continues to fail to do this, that’s a failure he needs to work on individually(with your support of course).

    He needs to learn how to make a responsible decision and be more assertive with others.

    It sounds like he doesn’t really want to drink. He needs to learn (ON HIS OWN) how to stand up for himself and firmly communicate that.

    You making and voicing his decisions for him doesn’t help anything.

  3. Annie says:

    Irene, my husband and I spoke about it for the nth time last night and he said he doesn’t have much of a problem saying no to to drinking or just a beer or 2 to his co-workers because they don’t bother him. They accept when he declines and don’t pester him. He said that they also don’t bother him when he drinks 1 beer in 2hrs LOL and just enjoys his company. We were invited by this couple friend for a dinner today supposedly, but we thanked them and declined and said we planned on trying out this newly opened restaurant and they can join us if they like. Of course my girl friend insisted on us abandoning our dinner plan and having it in their house instead. I said that we were looking forward to this & before I can even finish my sentence, she attacked me with her pushy lines. I kept my stand and I tried my best to keep my cool, too. I sensed that it really pissed her off, but she will have to get used to it. My husband asked me not to oblige him to come with me whenever I decide to come to this friends’ house, and I think that is a good solution to the drinking persuasion problem. Now I will have to talk to my friend about how it bothers me when she plans my weekends and gets irritated that I don’t do as she pleases. We have contributed to this mess by allowing them to treat us this way. I think my friend will soon be and ex-friend if she refuses to meet me half way.Thanks again, Irene.

  4. Annie says:

    Thanks Denise, Michelle and Jacqueline! I appreciate all you help! Irene, thank you for this blog site. I hope you don’t get too exhausted hearing friendship problems.

  5. jacqueline says:

    Annie, this situation is not worth all the stress it is causing you. Just tell your friend the truth – that you will NOT come to her house anymore. You can always get together at a mall food court or make a picnic so she can bring her kids. If she does not agree,nor understand what you are saying, and continues to insist you and your husband come over, then you will realize she is not really your friend.

    • Annie says:

      Thanks Jacqueline. Actually, the very rare times we met out have always been in a playground, in Mc Donald’s where there’s a playground, all places where it’s suitable for her kids. I guess I have been understanding of her situation for the longest time that she has forgotten that I don’t have children and going to these places is not exactly how I want to spend my weekends. I wanted to be supportive of my friend that’s why I always agree to what’s comfortable to her. These past 3 weeks may have come as a surprise to her because I have been firm on my decisions with her. I need to, otherwise I’ll explode with all the pent up emotions inside of me. I guess it’s hard to get mad with her because she may be a domineering friend, but she’s not a bad friend. Thanks again, Jacqueline.

      • jacqueline says:

        Now it is her turn to be understanding of YOUR situation!!! Good for you for standing up for yourself and not allowing this couple to push you around!!!!

  6. Michelle says:

    I agree! Your husband doesn’t even like the guy and he doesn’t stand up for you!? Your obnoxious friend is right, your husband needs to man up- FOR YOU, NOT FOR HIM!

  7. Denise says:

    I agree, what a mess. Every time I read of people being treated by others like this, I say this is Not a friendship.

    Annie, this man is being a kind of bully by taunting your husband about not drinking. Your husband must find a way to repeatedly say no until this guy accepts no. Maybe he’ll have to get very blunt: “I said no and that’s it.” “Stop asking.” “I’m not having this conversation again.” How about just leaving (the table or wherever)? I think I outgrew having trouble saying no in my 30s and what a wonderful feeling!

    He doesn’t like the guy, doesn’t want to drink, is ok with not going to their house, but will let him talk to you like that. He feels like a dope for turning down invites. I guarantee you and him he will feel so much stronger and victorious when he can refuse, stand his ground, walk away, and stand up for you, too. Since your husband dislikes him, he shouldn’t care about his reaction.

    You can’t talk to the wife because of adverse reactions. She’s too stressed to leave the house and only wants potluck. Don’t make any more excuses. Get comfortable with the idea of not making plans if she can’t leave the house. She stressed leaving, you’re stressed going. Don’t go.

    Having several reasons you’re unhappy, find a way to tell her this “friendship” isn’t working for you anymore. Say you have concerns you’re not comfortable with and you cannot continue socializing. Continue saying no anyway you can. Remember, when you refuse an invite, you don’t have to explain. Just say, “I (we) can’t make it.” “I’m (we’re) busy that day.” “Next week is packed.” You may have to stop returning calls and emails.

    Hope this helps; let us know what happens!

    • Annie says:

      Thanks so much, Denise!

      On being blunt, my husband’s too nice to be anything like that. Also, it’s hard to be blunt when you’re at a dinner party, at the house of the very person pestering you.

      I have raised 2 concerns to my husband – 1.the repercussions of him giving in to drinking more than he likes to drink and 2. how it makes me feel when I try to stand up for him and he chooses to side with this bully friend. Been telling him that if he can’t stand up for himself, I will, but we have to be one. We finally had an nth talk about this and this is what he wants- for me not to oblige him to come with me at this friend’s invites, esp. when it’s going to be held in their house. He said he doesn’t enjoy being with the guy and he’d rather relax at home than to listen to this guy’s antics. I hesitated for a moment, but we have to compromise. And yes, we decided for him not to be friends with this guy. Whew! I guess my friend doesn’t even have to know about it because I can always say “he’s at work”, ” work has gotten busier now. he wants to relax on weekends and mostly stay at home or dine out” if my friend rebuts or insist on my husband having to attend to her invites, this is what she’s going to hear- “thanks for missing him, but this is how he copes up with stress from work- by doing what he likes on his days off. let’s respect that.” I’ll come up with better words. lol.

      About my girl friend always wanting it her way or the high way, she is currently in shock, I can tell. I have been very very firm with my decision of us having to meet half way or compromise and this is upsetting her, but I don’t bother deal with her when she gets upset. I try my hard to keep my cool while I refuse to be domineered by her. It was also my fault. I wanted to be supportive of her, because she felt like some friends abandoned her as soon as she had a child, so I stayed with her at every chance I can get, going to playgrounds, kiddie parties etc with her and her family, even if I didn’t have children of my own. I have been wanting to talk to her about this, but my husband has been convincing me not to, because she gets mad at the slightest things and worry that she will bear a grudge against me and that this will totally ruin the friendship, turning it into world war III. He suggests that I keep it to myself while lessening my contact with this friend- instead of 2-3 times a month of seeing her, maybe go by once a month. I think I will end up talking to this friend, anyway. Just gathering the right words and the right mind when I talk to her. I want to be truthful without having to sound apologetic, maintaining my composure as my goal is to resolve our conflicts, not to fight with her. THanks for all your suggestions, Denise! I will update you all once I get to talk to her!

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