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Tricky issue with long term friend

(15 Posts)
loyalfriend Fri 05-Aug-11 11:50:16

This is a recurring theme with my friend of 30 years.

She off loaded today about things and although I sympathised, and can see her point, I can also see her DHs. In the past when I have seen both sides, and said so, she has got very upset and we have rowed.

I just wonder how many of you speak the truth, and how many of you bite your tongue?

She's in a marriage that is not working in many ways but has decided to stay put. The basic problem is that he earns loads, they have no money worries, and spends most of his time overseas with work, whilst she runs the house in the UK. In addition she looks after her elderly mum and is her main carer.

She is resentful of the fact that he does not seem to appreciate what she does to keep the house ticking over, and she also manages all the finances. He does nothing- no DIY or anything- he simply works very hard.

The upside for her is that she doesn't need to work, has no kids, and manages to fit in quite a few holidays with him, her friends, has money to spend on what she likes, and do what she likes apart from what I've described above.

He thinks she has the life of Riley and she thinks he is ungrateful because her managing the house etc allows him to live like a single man with no responsibility- except bringing home the money.

I think there is some truth in both these scenarios- but obviously she wants me to side with her and it's hard.

Should I just keep my mouth shut and simply listen?

Earlybird Fri 05-Aug-11 11:54:14

Ask her if she wants your opinion/advice, or if she simply wants to vent.

loyalfriend Fri 05-Aug-11 11:57:13

Good point.

I think she needed to vent.

We are very close- like sisters. My advice all along has been that she ought to walk away and end her marriage as he simply doesn't give her the emotional input and affection she needs. For whatever reason, she can't. The relationship only works because for 75% of the time he is not inthe UK. She had counselling for several years, and her counsellor advised her to do the same. ( and yes, I know they ought not to advise but this one did.)

toniguy Fri 05-Aug-11 12:16:17

I agree with asking that question. If she agrees that she just needs to vent, then it's in ur hands to set some limits on that, depending on how much of your friendship its taking up- eg you could say 'ok I understand you want to let off steam, but I don't want to spend all afternoon on that, let's go shopping/to the cinema ' etc

If she says she wants advice, then reiterate what you have said. Tell her that in her shoes you would walk, because you have different expectations of marriage, and want an emotional connection.

Tbh if shes lived like this for years, shes unlikely to change. She's getting enough out of the situation to remain in it - is financial security, holidays, freedom to choose whether or not to work. It wouldn't suit most women to accept a loveless relationship just to have a higher standard of living- but some women really do seem prepared to accept it, and if so, all you can do is continue to be her friend but make it plain you don't want it all to revolve around her offloading

loyalfriend Fri 05-Aug-11 12:39:11


That's true.

When she was having regular counselling - for 5 years- we rarely discussed it unless there had been a major row.
Now she has stopped counselling ( her counsellor died) she tends to off load a bit, but not as much as beforfe counselling began.

She swears she is not staying for the money- she would get a very good settlement- and in truth she says what you have said- that as long as he is away, she has a nice life.

She has a nice life in some ways- being able to do just what she wants all of the time ( except caring for her mum who is a very difficult woman) - and I can also see why her DH resents this when it's his income which allows her to do it. I think he does have a point.

I can see both sides, but I cannot say that or she would be upset- in her eyes he is totally to blame.

toniguy Fri 05-Aug-11 13:07:21

If you are a really good long standing friend, maybe it would be helpful for her to hear the truth though? It's a tough call, and only you can judge whether it's right to speak your mind, but sometimes people offload like this because deep down they perhaps need someone to push them out of their comfort zone and deal with making changes in their life. I'm not saying this is necessarily the case, but its worth thinking about. Perhaps deep down she's waiting for someone to say 'actually I don't think your husband is all bad?'

WibblyBibble Fri 05-Aug-11 13:35:53

TBH if she's the carer for her (presumably elderly/unwell) mother, I think he's delusional to think that's the life of riley...

DariusVassell Fri 05-Aug-11 13:51:37

Are you resentful and envious of her lifestyle, I wonder, because that's the impression I'm getting from your posts? Was your advice to end her marriage coming from a good place and borne out of a desire to see her happy and fulfilled (either single or with a new partner) or based on wanting to see her stand on her own two feet and possibly fail? A 30-year friendship should be able to withstand honesty, but it's always a good idea to check your own motives for giving it. Her reacting badly in the past to your appraisals of the situation might be because she thinks you don't entirely wish her well and have your own axe to grind.

loyalfriend Fri 05-Aug-11 13:54:34

Both valid points.

Re. her being a carer, her mother does have care provided but my friend still has to oversee this, and manage all her household affairs inc. repairs to the house etc etc etc.

Their marriage is one long power struggle; he resents her not working, although what she could earn would be insignificant compared to his salary, and she resents her contribution- taking full control of the home & money- not being "appreciated". He seems to think she spends her days drinking coffee and lunching.

This is certainly a big part of her life, but not all- so as always the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

I do think though that as they are so blinking rich, she tends to forget what it's like to have to consider money issues, work, and the responsibility of kids.

So he does have a point.

loyalfriend Fri 05-Aug-11 14:00:29

Darius- I am as envious as the next woman at times that she buys designer clothes, and has all the trappings of wealth, but no, I am not jealous. I do think that over the years she has forgotten what it's like to worry about money and to have to work , and she has accumulated many equally rich friends whose lifestyles echo hers.

But I don't think I am jealous. No. I do think she ought to appreciate HIM more for working all hours god sends and travelling the planet - both of which enable her to live this lifestyle.

Her response to that is he would do all of that anyway, because he enjoys his work- but as I said in my previous post, she thinks their relationship problems are solely caused by him, whereas I think she has forgotten what life would be like without his money.

And going back to my original point, I wonder how much to say this.

Earlybird Fri 05-Aug-11 14:31:52

Do you actually enjoy the friendship any longer?

What do you have in common (other than the past, which granted, is not insignificant)?

If anything, I would suggest she shift some of her time/energy/focus to some things she actually enjoys and finds fulfilling. Overseeing a household, nursing an ailing mother don't sound exactly enjoyable, and the holidays, etc, while superficially pleasurable probably don't satisfy her on any deeper level.

She needs to find something she is passionate about, and do it (whether hobby, charitable endeavour, etc). She is in a tremendously fortunate position that she doesn't have to support herself, and she should consider that a gift that allows her an enviable amount of freedom.

Chandon Fri 05-Aug-11 14:38:07

I would indulge her in her rant.

You don't have to chose sides after all, you don't! That's just in your head.

So be sympathetic. I have a friend who always rants about the school fees. Mine go to state. But I let her have her little rant, it makes me smile!!! (and she's a great person in all other respects!)

mumsamilitant Fri 05-Aug-11 14:47:24

Totally agree with Chandon. My friends and I are always ranting about something, then end up laughing our heads off! No one really gives advice unless asked (as 9 times out of ten we don't want it!) and we take it all with a pinch of salt.

loyalfriend Fri 05-Aug-11 15:01:15

earlybird- there is a lot of truth in what you say and she would be the first to agree. In fact she has said as much herself. She does do some volunteering anyway, but she still finds time to do lots of things that are fun!

Yes, I still want to be friends. No doubt about that.

Problem is when she rants she will say "Don't you agree? Aren't I right?" which makes it hard to say, "Errrrr well maybe not totally!"

Chandon Sat 06-Aug-11 10:37:12

just nod your head and say "hmmmmm", in a non-commital way

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