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I'm thinking about giving up on my friend cos she's burying her head in the sand re. her husband

(16 Posts)
glasjam Sun 31-Aug-08 01:06:23

Ok - I have known my friend since we started secondary schools - we were inseparable until our late teens and then university and life in general sent us to different parts of the UK. We kept in touch until life brought us together again in a different country - a chance to re-establish our friendship properly etc. but life had moved on - she had a husband - she had a baby - I had a baby etc. etc.

Unfortunately my partner and I came to the conclusion very quickly that her husband was, how can I put it, not all he seemed. Without going into too much detail he exhibited his incredibly stroppy/moody/belligerant behaviour within 24 hours of us meeting him. I instantly winced because I know the behaviour of a bully (my Dad having been one) and all the things he did were classic bullying behaviour.

Over the years we have tolerated this man for the sake of my friend - but recently I have teased out of my friend her unhappiness with him and have been able to discuss with her what i have observed and how she should not think that this is normal behaviour. I have been secretly hoping that she will see sense but know in my heart that she loves her kids and will try not to put them through shit because SHE is unhappy. I have spoken to her about how witnessing bullying, controlling, explosive behaviour is detrimental to children (from my own personal experience) she has taken this on board and vowed to do something about it. We have had real heart to hearts where she has revealed stuff that has made me want to scream "leave the tosser!!" but I have kept calm and have tried to be objective and supportive. The main thing I have tried to do is just listen.

we had a night out last month where she confided in me like she has never confided before - she is unhappy, she admitted that she is constantly walking around on eggshells so as not to ignite his temper - she feels like she can't disagree with him or make any comments that he might deem as negative -he continues to scheme and plan great things but does f**k all about them whilst she works hard and gets on with work and keeping the family afloat.

I got in touch with her yesterday and she said - oh everything is fine - she was on her own but I could tell she was just trying to convince herself that everything was OK and that they would carry on as they had done. I pushed a little, but could tell that she was obviously feeling disloyal for having spoken to me about her husband who she clearly loves - and was not wanting to discuss this any further with me. It was like she was saying "don't keep going on about it - really everything is great!"

I think that I cannot do anymore _ I dont want to take this up as a crusade but I don't want to abandon her. I have asked her to at least get her own e-mail account as at the moment it all goes through his own - but even on this subject she thinks that would be deceitful and disloyal on her part (arghhhh!!).

In my heart of hearts I feel I shouldn't waste any more energy on the issue - I have my own family and they need me. I can't ,live her life for her but is it right to just abandon her. By abandoning I mean not making those calls to her and asking her "how are things?" when she will refuse to discuss it. I don't mean I won't return her calls - I will always be there for her if she chooses to call but I can't instigate those calls anymore.

This is a ramble -but basically I feel as if I am bailing out on a friend because I don't want to go through all the attempts at "fixing" things that I went through unsuccessfully with my dad. She's an adult - I have told her how I feel and what I think about the situation - I have offered her my support if she needs it - the rest is up to her.

He hasn't raised a hand to her.... yet but I don't think that matters - if you crush a person you crush a person whether that's words or actions.

Just want to know what other people think...

AvenaLife Sun 31-Aug-08 01:13:41

There's an old saying 'you can take the horse to the water but you can't make it drink'.
Infuriating as it is, she's your friend and IMO, you should be there for her no matter what she's going through. She needs to work this out for herself, you giving her advice will help her do that but it is her choice what she does. You are able to see what she's getting herself into but there are alot of lessons we have to learn for ourselves, no matter how tough they are. Just be there for her. You've given her your advice but that is all it is. Call her up but don't mention her husband. You've made your thoughts very clear to her and she has to decide where to go. It's hard to stand back and watch but you are doing the right thing.

mel1981 Sun 31-Aug-08 01:15:13

I agree with you... honestly I dont really think theres much more you can do. Youve shown your a really great friend to her by caring & trying to talk and like you said you will always be there for her. You cant change what shes going through only she can do that when shes ready.
It must be so hard for you too tho I really feel for you. x

MUMBLEB Sun 31-Aug-08 01:35:33

im in a similar dilema myself with my best freind we have been through the good and bad times together in life we are so close and have always been there for one another. this last year she liked a man who from the 1st day we saw him was eyeing up one of our friends while being introducedshock.he has since flirted with all of our friends in front of my bmate although she choses not to see this denial thing is driving me mad! like your friend she cannot denie she is happy and then in the same breath goes on like she's the happiest and luckiest woman on earth sadim in the same dilema coz i cant stand him am frightened of the damage he will cause her and know i dont have the energy to help when it happens the guilt is heart renching aint it

aaaarrrgh Sun 31-Aug-08 09:08:37

I've been in the same situation as your friend. I was with an emotionally abusive man who made me miserable but i was totally and utterly in love with him.

Two close friends made it very clear they didn't like him, were worried about me and that he wasn't right for me.

I did same thing as your friend and said 'everything's fine' and just never mentioned bad stuff again to them.

I ended up falling out with 1 friend who ended up in tears, shouting that she couldn't bear to watch what he was doing to me. I jumped to his defence and we fell out and never spoke again. I was devastated at that.

The other friend never referred to my bad relationship again, she just kept chatting about normal stuff and not having 'heavy' talks with me. I really appreciated it, it gave me an escape from the relationship to be with her and made me feel normal. I knew all the time that she couldn't bear my boyfriend.

When I eventually (2yrs later) found the courage to leave him, she was the first person I rang. I knew she knew how bad it had been and how much effort it had taken me. I poured my heart out to her and she didn't judge or lecture me, just kept saying 'well done' and giving my hugs. Knowing that she didn't judge me and would be there for me gave me such strength and a push to leave.

Guess what I'm saying is, leave it now, you've done your best, just carry on being 'normal'. She'll leave when she's ready and she'll talk when she wants. If you keep having heavy chats with her she'll just start avoiding you and end up more lonely.

You are being a good friend.

Elf Sun 31-Aug-08 16:43:06

Glasjam, I think Aaaargh's post is very illuminating. Also, if you carry on being her friend and stop the heavy chats not only are you there for her in teh long term but you won't have the frustration of hearing her complain but not actually doing anything about it. Talk about normal things - suits you both.

undercovercat Sun 31-Aug-08 17:33:54

Arrrghh has the right idea. Just be her friend, one day she will leave him.
Its quite frankly embarrassing staying with someone you KNOW is doing you no good but still not having the guts to do anything about it.
I stopped talking about it for maybe a couple of years to anyone except my very best friend who had been just at slow at leaving when it was awful. And even then I didnt tell her quite how bad it was.
Just be there for her and do the things you would normally, and keep off the bad relationship talks.

Iwanttobreakfree Mon 01-Sep-08 09:08:12

Message withdrawn

sayithowitis Mon 01-Sep-08 10:52:21

Your friend knows there is someone who cares about her and who will support her when/if she makes the decision to leave her husband. However, it is her decision to make and it is for her to decide when that time comes, it is not for you to lay out the timetable and to withdraw your friendship if she doesn't stick to it! If you stop making those calls, to talk about everyday trivial things, she will feel that she can no longer rely on your support when it comes to the big things. Don't take that away from her just because she is not doing what you want, when you want! It is her life! And it may be that she will never leave him, but she will always need the strength you have just to keep going! I would suggest that for now, you do not criticize her husband any more and that even when she tells you what he's been diong, you make your remarks more about how she copes than about what a so and so he is. It may be that they will work things out and stay together and you do not want her to then accuse you of trying to break up her marriage! Good Luck! smile

NoMoreOlympics Mon 01-Sep-08 10:58:52

totally agree with arrrghh

Chocolateteapot Mon 01-Sep-08 11:05:43

Haven't read the other replies as am supposed to be working, but my lovely friend from school got married to a complete &&%%&. I tried hard not to show how much I hated him and think I sort of managed and made it clear when she raised the subject that I thought he had been well out of order on a number of occasions but didn't hammer the point home and the rest of the time we didn't really talk about him.

I knew without a shadow of a doubt that he would at some point leave her and decided that I would make sure at that point I would be there for her.

It happened last year. It took her a few months before she told anyone unfortunately (by which time he had made sure she was landed with the mortgage from hell) but she finally did tell her friends. Since then I've been able to help her sort herself out financially and made sure she got herself to a damn good solicitor. I have held back on slagging him off just in case she ever gets back with him, which I doubt very much, but you never know and if she does, I don't want her to think she has burned her bridges with me. I obviously agree with her when she says when she says how awful (because he is) but don't instigate a slagging him off session, however hugely tempting it is.

I can not tell you the huge satisfaction it gives me to know that I'm helping her shaft him as much financially as possible, it was worth biting my tongue for all these years. She has been through such a bad time but I went over before the summer and found she had started laughing again, which was so lovely to see.

TheDevilWearsPrimark Mon 01-Sep-08 11:16:30

I have recently left my husband, who slowly controlled and abused me. I didn't tell my friends the half of what was going on but it still tried their patience.

To be honest I didn't expect anything more from than to be an ear, and someone to go out and have fun with and forget about home for a night occasionally. They did this brilliantly. Had one of them told me to leave, or tried to force me to tell them more I would have shut them out.

All I can advise is that you do the same. Do no t give up on her, just be there. be impartial. Don't jump on an opportunity to put him down as she may resent you for it (at the time).

Hopefully soon you will be like my best friend, who was always there. Was there to hold back my hair when I threw up in the street after he left panicking if I did the right thing, there to drink wine until the small hours when I desperately missed him, and there now to help me redecorate (my thing of 'starting anew') and hold my hand when I have the legal shit to deal with.

Friends are there for better for worse. Just try to stay on the sidelines until you are called for.

bubblagirl Mon 01-Sep-08 11:41:23

i went through really bad time with ex who was controlling abusive and justa horrible person but i was in love so i thought i was led to believe it was my fault he was how he was so although i was unhappy i was determined to change and make him happy

everyone wanted me to leave and i couldnt when he was nice he was nice an dit gave me hope and something to focus on i didnt see it as his game i saw we werre going to be ok

luckily although my friends were sick to the back teeth of my rants and the unhappiness i felt they never gave up on me they knew theres only so much a person can take before they see what they could already see

easy when on the outside looking in imho

4 ytrs later something not even as bad as id put up in that time set me off to i didnt need this anymore an di never looked back

if you have neevr been in that situation its easy to want to wasdh your hands of that person but theres a stronger force at home already destroying her thoughts and confidance and reality

you need to be there you need to understand that she is vulnerable afraid she loves this person whenits good it gives her hope when its bad she feels so alone and lost its a scary way to feel and you need your friends to not judge you but to just be there one day she will realise and leave until then she needs support and when she does leave she needs a shoulde to cry on not an i told you so but a well done

Oblomov Mon 01-Sep-08 11:44:20

Someone has to get to the place, where THEY are ready to do something, of their OWN accord.
You can do nothing. Other than let it go, in your heart/brain. Try not to think about it/worry.
And be supportive of her.
That is all.
What alternative is there ?

glasjam Mon 01-Sep-08 20:50:51

Thanks so much to all those who replied - particularly those who are coming at it from the viewpoint of my friend - it was very illuminating (and moving) to learn about your experiences. I guess I might be dealing with my own anger about him -I have such a dislike of bullies from watching the degradation of my own mother at the hands of my father - I probably take it on board too much and am disliking revisiting those feelings when I talk to her about her own relationship.

But that's my s**t and I need to put that aside and be a friend to her. Be a friend in the way that a lot of you suggest - just talk to her about day-to-day stuff - avoid talking about him or commenting.

It's a shame because she wants us to come over as a couple and visit them with our children - my partner has made it clear that he can NOT take being in the presence of him. He dislikes the way he is left looking after the children whilst her husband shadows me and my friend because he basically doesn't want us talking alone together. He supports me going to see her on my own and says that I should try and do that - so I think after our most recent chat she will understand that's how it's going to be. It's a shame because she told me that already her husband has been making comments along the lines of "considering she's such a friend you don't see her much" - trying to undermine our friendship.

So yes, thanks for helping me sort this out. I shall be there for her and not "give her a timetable" to leave him as someone so eloquently put it.

I just hope she finds the courage one day...

chuggabopps Mon 01-Sep-08 21:09:19

Just one more thing to tell her though--- why not suggest MN to her? We might be able to let her put her side across (in her own time) and give her a fresh perspective?

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