Two of my best friends recently got engaged. I don’t think they should be getting married right now.
I love them both and think that in many ways they work well together, but they’ve had so many ups and downs that I don’t think they’ve been happy consistently for more than a two-month stretch.
Every time they finish a major fight, they insist they’re better than ever, but have another major blow-up months later.
I never tell friends to break up because I don’t want to be blamed. But this couple needs to prove that changes have occurred before rushing into a marriage.
Both are also deeply religious and opposed to divorce. They’re each other’s first serious relationship and determined to make it work.
I think marriage can wait, but they brush me off. I think they’re in denial about their pattern of major fights.
Should I be more blunt?
Here’s what I think: The couple wants to do what they want to do, not what you want them to do. And I think you’ve misunderstood the role of a friend.
They haven’t come to you to ask for guidance, or ways to change that pattern, or support for them to break up.
They’ve expected positive support instead. If you can’t be positive, it’d be far more helpful to wish them well, and gently ask some leading questions.
Example: “Congratulations! Are you going to take a pre-marital counselling course? I hear they’re very beneficial.” (These are often available through faith communities or a community agency).
Also – but only if you resist being critical - you could say you’re impressed that they’ve risen above their ups and downs, and wonder if they’ve thought of talking to a professional about how to avoid that old pattern.
However, if you express yourself “bluntly,” they’ll likely still marry, but drop you as a friend. Don’t cross the line of trying to force your opinion on them.
My in-laws are hoarders. It’s difficult to be in their cluttered and unclean home. We have a young son, and they’ve been asking us to visit. My partner and I don’t want the baby in their home.
They’re welcome to spend time with our son at our home. I don’t want this to affect our relationship with my in-laws, as I love them dearly and am heartbroken that they live this way.
Yet my son's health comes first, and their home is too unkempt for a child. We cannot tell them how to live in their own home, but they deserve to know why their grandchild can't visit.
How can we address this respectfully? My partner has never had direct communication with his parents (they’re very passive-aggressive).
They are very, very sensitive. I know that their feelings will be hurt, so we want to be as gentle as possible.
No matter how gently put, it will be a rejection of their home. So consider all “solutions” you can offer when you talk to them.
When you encourage them to visit you, try to make it a treat rather than just avoidance.
Invite them for a visit and lunch on a regular schedule. Pick them up if necessary, and sometimes invite other relatives over to make it a family gathering.
Keep your explanation simple, unexaggerated, and direct: for example, they collect a lot of old stuff that would be too dangerous and unhygienic for a baby to be around, but you dearly want them to enjoy your son, so here’s a plan…. etc.
My friend of ten years and I got together often and he’d call me frequently.
He’s had a new girlfriend for two years, whom I enjoy. However, he’s stopped taking any initiative to make plans.
He’ll get together, but I’m always the one making the contact. I’d like to raise this but it’s a tough, potentially awkward conversation to have with a male friend.
Can a friendship function if one person’s always making the plans? Is it worth keeping the friend when it’s so one-sided?
You like him and like his partner, and he responds positively when you call. That’s two-sided.
His no longer “initiating” isn’t uncommon when people get involved in relationships and have more demands on their time.
He’s worth your time and effort to say you’d like to hear from him first, sometimes. Leave it at that. If he does nothing, email one last chance, that it’s his turn to make plans.
Tip of the day:
Negative criticism isn’t accepted as “friendly” comment.