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Long term friendship problem(15 Posts)
Sorry, I know this is such a silly issue compared to the problems many others post here, but I didn't know where else to post.
DH and I have been together for nearly 20 years, now late 30s and as a result we have long had the same friends. All was fine until we had children. As soon as I got pregnant with my first child it was like I dropped off the planet. DH still got invited out most weekends and continued to go, leaving me alone to raise our child at weekends even though we both work full time. After many long drawn out disagreements he stepped up a few years ago and no longer leaves me every weekend, but I'll admit there is still some residual anger that he behaved so badly in the first place.
Anyway, things with some of "our" friends have deteriorated massively. They continue to invite DH out most weekends, continue to ignore me (to the point I went to something at the weekend without DH, they were there but didn't even say hello and deliberately refused to speak to me). I'm obviously hurt that I've been cut out like this, but to be honest this has been going on so long I'm sort of over it for myself, I wouldn't want friends who are capable of that anyway, but they're the only friends DH has locally. I have some sympathy for this and I in no way wish to dictate who he is friends with, but when opportunities come up for us to go out together he gets pissed off with me not wanting to go out with them and denies that there is a problem. These people are so rude to me but he never addresses it with them.
A couple of years ago I tried to sort things out, but just got a load of vicious emails listing all my wrongs (I spend too much time with other mums - god forbid I have a support network - seemed to be my worst crime). The result of that exchange was that I was told if I had a problem then they could cut my husband out of their lives and he wouldn't thank me for it. Well that put me back in my box to be honest. DH is aware of this exchange. It was incredibly hurtful at the time.
Anyway, my issue now is that I don't want to force DH to choose between us. I'm hurt that he would want to be friendly with these people after how I've been treated and it's hard not to blame him for his part in this. How do I deal with this so it doesn't destroy my marriage?
Your DH has let you down: he is rewarding people who have treated you badly. He is giving them permission to carry on treating you badly.
While you are right that he must be free to have whatever friendships he wants to have, there is also such a thing as having boundaries in friendships. He can be friends with someone, love them, and still say: "Hey, Friend, that thing you did wasn't cool; knock it off." He doesn't have to relinquish his friendships, just show where he stands.
And he is showing where he stands: not on your team. He is choosing to go along with bullies, for his own comfort and convenience, and throwing you under the bus instead.
You ask: How do you deal with this so that it doesn't destroy your marriage? Frankly, it may destroy your marriage, as a marriage is a partnership. But here's a few things you might do to at least make sure that these people have no more place in your life even if they remain in his:
- Make your own plans when he is out with these friends. Hire a baby-sitter and spend the time with people who are supportive and kind to you.
- Refuse to hear anything about what these friends are saying behind your back: if he starts bringing back gossip about what they are saying about you, cut him off; tell him you don't want to hear it, change the subject.
- Scrub them from all social media.
Tell your DH, in no uncertain terms, that he has let you down: thrown you under the bus for his own comfort and convenience. How would he like it if you continued to favour people who had been so nasty to him?
It sounds like your DH is the kind of man who placates bullies. It is not a choice of choosing between you and them, but of choosing between blind loyalty, and demanding to be treated decently (and treating his partner decently). Unfortunately, this may be a very difficult concept for him to understand if he is an appeaser.
My last paragraph is very garbled, let me try to re-phrase:
Your DH may frame the conversation in terms of you forcing him to choose between you and them.
You can re-frame the conversation in term of kow-towing to bullying behaviour, versus standing up to bullying behaviour.
If he is an appeaser, he may (wrongly) believe that standing up for himself (and you) is equivalent to starting WWIII and breaking up with his friends, and the very thought will make him panic and turn on you. The concept of boundaries may be entirely alien to him. So you can try to explain to him that it is possible to stand up for oneself and keep a relationship going - that in fact, standing up for oneself in relationships is a way to create better, healthier relationships with mutual respect.
He may not get it, though. It's the kind of profound change that he may not be ready for.
These people are not your friends and probably never have been, they seem to me to have a separate agenda... I would expect my dh to drop so called friends if they were to disrespect me and our life together. Friends like this are not a good influence on your life and I think getting rid of them altogether is probably the only thing you can do.
I have to say your marriage is the most important friendship your dh has, there is nothing that can compare, why do you not feel he would always choose you? Do you feel loved by him?
Thank you for your replies.
DH is certainly a people-pleaser. He doesn't defend their behaviour and I don't expect him to fight my battles, I just want him to acknowledge the problem.
The weirdest thing about all of it is that I'm very close with one of the women in our group and our children are best friends so we do a lot together. For big days out we always invite the others (who now have children of their own) but they rarely come. I have actually been told off for this by other friends because we have been to the park together and haven't phoned everyone else to invite them! Honestly, I can see how childish this all sounds, but I have to deal with this on a regular basis and it feels like I'm living in a parallel universe where I'm the only person who isn't completely batshit crazy. When we get told off DH just pacifies it to make it all go away. He just won't acknowledge that in doing so he's giving them the green light to carry on.
Do I feel loved by DH? That's a tough one. In almost every respect yes I do, but he has always put these particular friends before everything else, and I'd be lying if I said it hasn't caused problems before, but they were my friends too so that sort of limited the problem IYSWIM. The thing is, DH and I have been through a very difficult patch having children, primarily because he continued to put them first instead of our family. We've worked very hard on fixing what was very broken, he knows he was in the wrong and is genuinely sorry for how he behaved, but I struggle to let go of the anger and when I spend a night being completely blanked by these people, I can't help but ask myself why I bother trying to work at anything. Honestly, in my heart of hearts I'd have to say that if I had the power to turn back time I'd have never have got involved, but I can't do that.
These really aren't friends of yours. I've never heard anything as childish as cutting you out but expecting him to keep up the same level of friendship. And then for him to do exactly that!
I wouldn't want anything more to do with them. Why on earth does he think you'd want to go out with them when you have a rare free evening?
As for him - he's let you down badly. He's put others first, repeatedly. He can't even see what's wrong with what he's done. He's let other people who he calls his friends shun you and treat you badly.
I don't think he's a friend of yours, either, tbh.
it feels like I'm living in a parallel universe where I'm the only person who isn't completely batshit crazy. When we get told off DH just pacifies it to make it all go away. He just won't acknowledge that in doing so he's giving them the green light to carry on.
Allow me to validate your experience here: yes, they all have very fucked-up ideas about friendship and social relations. You are perfectly sane to resist their warped view. Yes, by pacifying them or ignoring the issue, your DH is giving them the green light to carry on. This bit is his issue to sort out, if he wants to be a partner to you.
Honestly, in my heart of hearts I'd have to say that if I had the power to turn back time I'd have never have got involved, but I can't do that.
You can't change the past, but you can make a different choice going forward.
Thank you for confirming it is not me going mad, it is all really weird.
I know I need to speak to DH about all this, again, but he'll just say there's nothing wrong and he's sorry if I feel bad but they don't mean any harm. it's all so sadly predictable.
Your last paragraph above is the heart of the issue. Your H has minimised you and your feelings and continues to do so because he benefits from it. He is very disloyal.
And by the way it's not a silly issue at all. It's very serious to be treated so shabbily by the person who should be your closest ally. I would be making new friends and going out regularly and without consultation - let him pick up the slack. But then i'm quite childish
I can't believe they didn't even say hello to you. I would cut these nasty people out of your life and leave them to their own negativity.
Your DH is the bigger problem though. He doesn't have your back. I wish I could say something more constructive but he is not acting like your partner in life.
I do think you can make him choose. What sort of relationship is it that he not only turns a blind eye to the (batshit crazy) way you are treated by these vicious people but actively courts those who do it to you? And this has been going on for decades!
Nope, sorry, not acceptable whatever way you look at it. There isn't room for all of you in your marriage - it's you (your marriage) or them.
Is there a ringleader? Or are they all beyond foul?
No it's mainly a small, but influential number who lead everything - others just go along to whatever they're invited to or live further away and assume everything is fine - I don't want to tell them what's really going on, it'll be seen as me being a bitch. A small number I remain on very good terms with. There's definitely a gender element to it, although not exclusively.
To be fair to DH, he encourages me to go out with my other friends, he's happy to do his fair share of childcare, so that I can also have a social life, he just thinks it's ok that he can drop me out of our main social circle 9 times out of 10, then expect me to trot along like a good little wife if I'm allowed out, even though it's excruciating for me. He knows I won't do it, I'm a grown woman ffs, but it doesn't stop him asking occasionally and it always results in a row. He thinks it's sad that he's made to go to places where his friends will have wives, partners, families and he'll be on his own, but in my mind that's the bed he made.
I should also add that although DH gets invited out all the time, he probably only goes out once a month on average. He is very much a family man now, but it took a long time and a lot of arguments to get to this point.
I agree OP, that is the bed he has made. Well done on putting him straight.
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