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When is it ok to interfere in a friend's relationship?

(13 Posts)
Nessalina Sat 03-Sep-16 11:45:27

I'm very worried about a friend's relationship, to the point I feel that I should talk to one or other of them about it.

I am good friends with a couple - I knew her first, then got to know him, and we have always got on well, though I don't see them often, maybe once every couple of months.

I've just been on holiday with them for three nights, me and my DH and our toddler, the two of them, and another single friend (who we all know from uni). The whole holiday I've been really worried about the way they are interacting, to the point that I'm concerned it's abusive.

She (let's call her Helen) is very passive and quiet, and he (let's call him Graham) is moody and let's her do everything for him. So in the morning, she would get up first and take him a cup of tea and bowl of cereal in bed, and often be sent back out for more milk or whatever. He didn't lift a finger around the lodge, so when Helen and I made dinner, he sat in the lounge on his phone, and didn't offer to help, and after dinner my DH hopped up to clear and wash up, and Helen started helping too, whilst Graham just went back to sit on his arse.

On the day we left, Helen did all of the packing and sorted out moving the cars, and we all tidied up the lodge, whilst he stayed in bed hmm.
Not only that but the way he speaks to her is not very respectful, so he doesn't thank her for the things she brings him, and expected her sort out all his activities. It's hard to think of an example, but some of the stuff her said would have got him a sharp word back it were me!

They've always had a similar dynamic, but it used to be more playful, and he would definitely be more involved in things. He has a history of anxiety, so he does tend to be deferred to, or his behaviour excused.
They've been together over 12 years, and she's wanted to get married and have kids for a while and been sad that he doesn't seem to want to move things on. But I can't help but feel that she'd be better moving on to someone that respects her more. I'm worried that he's grinding her down and that she's not feeling good about herself, but she's a wonderful person, so kind and loyal, and I really feel she could do better. I can understand at her age (34) it's scary to start again when you've been with someone that long, but with no kids, why be miserable? But she never says a bad word about him.

Equally as I have been friends with him, I sort of want to speak to him and ask him what he's playing at. My feeling is that he's not interested any more but doesn't want to confront it.

So, should I speak to one or other of them, or just let it play out?

EarthboundMisfit Sat 03-Sep-16 17:05:00

He sounds a lazy are, but not sure I'm getting abusive from what you've said.
What DOES she say about him?

EarthboundMisfit Sat 03-Sep-16 17:05:21


Isetan Sat 03-Sep-16 18:14:12

I agree, he sounds lazy and she enables him by being a doormat. It's not the dynamic that you or I'd put up with but she's an adult and I'm not sure what you could say that would encourage her to change her contribution to their dynamic.

jeaux90 Sat 03-Sep-16 18:33:37

Why don't you just ask her whether she is happy? You could point out some of the dynamics that happen that you wouldn't tolerate but equally you should acknowledge that all relationships are different so you don't put her on the defensive. I wouldn't confront him about his behaviour though, he sounds like an arse and she will probably leap to his defence.

YetAnotherGuy Sat 03-Sep-16 21:02:58

Hardly ever a good idea to interfere. Rarely a good idea to offer gratuitous advice

If you do, you could lose their friendship and she would then have one less person to confide in if she ever really perceived the situation as a problem

useyourimagination Sat 03-Sep-16 21:07:19

Thing is, you've only got a snapshot of three day's of their lives. If you came on holiday with DH and I you might think the same of us because he works very hard and I don't - so I do give him a proper break when he's on holiday.

I would stay out of it but be a listening ear if she needs one ever.

nicenewdusters Sat 03-Sep-16 21:10:08

I'd only approach her, not him. I think you have to do so though in the knowledge that she may really resent it, and it could affect/spoil your friendship.

alfagirl73 Sat 03-Sep-16 22:00:30

He sounds lazy rather than abusive. If you are concerned you could ask her if she's happy - or perhaps ask in a casual non-accusatory way how her husband is as you noticed he was quieter than usual on holiday - y'know in a relaxed friendly-caring way rather than "I noticed your husband was a lazy miserable arse on holiday" way. You say he has a history of anxiety; that can be crippling and it's hard to understand the many ways it can manifest itself if you haven't experienced it.

Asking her casually how he is and showing mild concern for his wellbeing will give her an opportunity to let you know if there is anything else going on behind the scenes, but if she doesn't want to talk about it and/or says everything is fine and she is happy, then you may have to be prepared to just let them get on with it.

steppemum Sat 03-Sep-16 22:07:45

In principle you shoudln't interfere unless asked for advice.

In practice, if it was a close friend, I would find it hard, but would go down the line of asking - is everything OK? Are you happy? rather than commenting on behaviour.

I might, depending on our relationship, even go so far as to say - you know he isn't ever goign to marry and have kids don;'t you?

Iflyaway Sat 03-Sep-16 22:22:34

Yep. You were on holiday and saw the couple's dynamics.

He's a lazy sod and she's his handmaiden.

Whether together 12 hours or 12 years, she has chosen it.

So, she's wanted to get married and have kids? Why did she not give him an ultimatum by now.....frankly, she's better off not having kids with him cos he's still a kid anyway. And that may be her subconscious decision too.

They are both in it for a reason. And best not to interfere but tell her you will be there for her if needed. That's what a friend is for.

Anyway, if she does ever decide to take the leap into independence, not too late for kids. I had mine at 36. And alone. LP is always preferable to having a lazy fuckwit father around.

NellWilsonsWhiteHair Sat 03-Sep-16 22:32:15

Tricky. When I finally left a very damaging relationship (years too late, but not as long-term as 12 years), almost everyone expressed relief that id made the break. And I remember thinking, but if you've been thinking that for four years, why did you never say anything? Why did you let me think it was normal? sad

The first thing to kick me into thinking about leaving was a friend saying, as a very open-ended thing, "why don't you just leave?" I had been in the middle of (I thought) light-heartedly and briefly whingeing about what seemed an incredibly minor problem. I was speechless at his response. But it was absolutely the right one and I am still now hugely grateful for it.

I was much younger than your friend. And as above, the context for someone eventually saying something was when I'd brought up the subject (in a very small way). But I think it's potentially a very kind thing, to say something. I still wish someone had said something to me far sooner.

springydaffs Sat 03-Sep-16 22:45:33

You can definitely say something - but bear in mind it'll be the end of your friendship with her. It's almost certain she won't want to hear it.

But somewhere along the line what you said may come in handy and help her to get out - when she's ready. I doubt she's ready now.

Two good friends made it clear they didn't think much of my future (abusive) husband. At the time I plain didn't understand their concerns - he was in the 'charm' phase - but later down the line what they had said was an anchor to me as I battled to get out of the marriage. I really valued their courage - they risked stepping out for my benefit.

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