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A troubled marriage can make for troubled friendships

Published: June 24, 2012 | Last Updated: May 14, 2020 By | 2 Replies Continue Reading
A troubled marriage can affect friendships


Dear Irene,

I am so happy I have come across this blog and your book, Best Friends Forever: Surviving a Breakup with Your Best Friend.  It is nice to know there is a place to go for understanding and support when female friendships go awry.

I, too, have a story. I met a friend at work. At first, we both took lunches together. We laughed all the time then. Then a few times she came to my house, also fun times. We went to a few comedy shows and even she and her husband, and my husband and I shared some New Year’s Eve dinners and some nights out. We have even shared family vacations.

My friend is in her second marriage and has a 17-year-old and a 4-year-old. The marriage is troubled. My friend used to text me all the time and even call. Now, something has changed. I rarely hear from her via text and my attempts to invite her over (once in a while) are met with excuses. All of this is very painful for me because we became fast friends and she quickly pronounced me her BFF, which initially felt  surprising after only knowing her for three years.

Now, I find myself being less tolerant of the excuses and on our last vacation, she mentioned that she, her husband and her 4-year-old really get along much better when it is just the three of them. She mentioned also that when her 17-year-old daughter is around, it just creates more friction (the 17-year-old has made it very clear she does not like my friend’s husband).

My friend told me she would like to spend time with me but she can’t: When her husband is around other people he is a different person, which makes her a different person. We were both sitting by the pool together just the two of us (which is rare because she always has her family in tow) and I would have pursued it but both our husbands and kids came to the pool.

This has been bothering me a lot, but I decided not to pursue it and to give her space. I reached out once again to invite her and her family (I have stopped asking for girl time) to the beach with my family. She blamed her husband and said he was being difficult. Today at work I asked her what was going on and she said her husband was giving her a difficult time about going and berating her and she had no groceries and on and on. Again I hear the theme her husband is a different person around people.

What does this mean for our friendship? Is she trying to send me a message or end the friendship? Or is there something genuinely going on in her life and I need to try and be a more supportive friend? I am confused, hurt, scared and not sure if I should approach her and try to talk with her. Is this the beginning of the end??

Signed, Tara


Hi Tara,

Like you, I can’t be sure about what has happened but I would venture to guess that the schism between you and your friend has more to do with her relationship with her husband, than it has to do with her friendship with you, per se.

It’s very sad when someone can’t be oneself with a spouse. Your friend may be having a difficult time with her husband, who appears to be controlling and possessive. She has told you outright she would like to spend more time with you and can’t–it is probably due to the circumstances of her marriage. The fact that she has no money for groceries is particularly worrisome; her husband may be putting a financial noose around her neck as well.

Try not to take the growing distance between you and your friend personally. It sounds like she needs you more than ever. Since your relationship started as office colleagues, might you try to
scale back the friendship to one of close co-workers and see each other at lunch for the time being? Be a good listener and perhaps you’ll get a better sense of what is going on in her life and how it impacts your friendship. Your friend will probably welcome the opportunity to confide in someone who is concerned about her and knows the people in her life.

Asking her to plan activities (with or without her family) may simply be too burdensome right now–and may even be something her husband won’t allow. As she begins to work through her family issues, it may change the nature and course of your friendship again.

Hope this helps!
Best, Irene




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  1. Anonymous says:


    I’m so glad you posted this because I’m going through a very similar situation with my best friend and don’t know what to do at this point! We have been best friends for 15 years but my best friends husband (they’ve been married for 9 years) is extremely controlling and possessive. I’ve always been very nice to him, but whenever me and her go anywhere alone, he’s calling her numerous times asking when she’s coming home and accusing her of meeting up with guys! Me and her used to talk on the phone weekly, but for the past year or so, I just stopped calling her because everytime we talk on the phone, her husband is in the background listening in and commenting on our conversation or trying to talk to her at the same time. I will now only talk to her on the phone when she remembers to call me and even then her husband is still involved in our conversations. Every time I try to talk to my best friend about her husband’s controlling behavior, she either says he’s just jealous of our friendship because when we’re together she pays more attention to me than to him or she says that I’m overreacting! There have been so many times where I’ve threatned to just drop our friendship for good but then she gets mad at me and says that I shouldn’t stop being her friend just because she has a jealous husband. I’m really at the point where I don’t know what to do anymore:(

  2. Anonymous says:

    Your friend could be in a relationship of domestic violence, if she has no money for groceries, her husband could be withholding money as a form of control. It’s also a sign that the 17 year old doesn’t like her stepdad.

    Be patient with her and look after yourself too. You can meet other people.

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