Stuck in a rut

Published: August 17, 2009 | Last Updated: August 17, 2009 By | Reply Continue Reading


Dear Irene,

I’ve been a friend with someone for over two decades. She’s intelligent, a good person and very honest, but since her first marriage fell apart and she remarried, all she does is complain about her current spouse. I tried asking her what she’s going to do about this. She said she doesn’t know.

It’s gotten to the point where I dread seeing her because she just keeps talking about how her husband is unemployed, unromantic and always arguing with her. I feel sorry for her, but I’ve been avoiding her since she seems to be in a tape-loop when it comes to understanding that she needs to either do something about her marriage or leave it. Do you have any suggestions for getting someone to stop complaining?



Dear M,

Your friend sounds like she’s hurting and can’t figure a way out of her morass. By the same token, it’s hard for you to befriend someone who is totally self-involved. It has to be annoying to hear the same tape being played over and over!

If you are going to save your friendship, you need to be the one who precipitates a change in your relationship with her. Firmly tell your friend that she needs to discuss her feelings with a counselor or mental health professional. Her husband may need to speak to someone too. Tell her you understand what a big decision this is for her, but you really aren’t in a position to advise her one way or the other.

Remind her that everyone needs to have balance in their lives and that she can’t keep ruminating about her marital problems whenever you’re together. When she begins talking about her lousy marriage, channel the conversation back to another topic. Don’t be surprised if she remains stuck in this situation for quite a while—unable to decide whether to leave or to work on improving the relationship.

If she doesn’t pause the non-stop tape after you try this, you may have no choice but to put your friendship on a sabbatical and spend less time with her while she is working through this problem.

I hope this helps!



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