How do we deal with couples who bicker?
My husband and I aren’t always in agreement but we do our arguing at home. Yet we find that many other couples snipe at each other, disagree, correct one another and even get insulting, in public.
One “new” couple who fell for each other on their second date, and seemed an ideal match in many ways, ruined our dinner together recently.
Whatever the topic, when she spoke, he put her down. She was “wrong,” or “knows nothing about that, ” or he talked over her. It was painful to sit there waiting for the bickering to end.
How do we handle this in future?
Too Much Bickering
Set your own limits as a couple, of what you’ll take.
If the other two are close friends, try interrupting with something light (but pointed), as in “okay, change the topic.” If that doesn’t help, both you and/or your partner can separately have a private talk with one of them.
But if the bickering couple is not close, put some distance between seeing them. You get together socially with people for enjoyment, not strain.
Is this woman my friend or an opportunist?
In recent years, she started withholding information and/or telling elaborate lies, which get exposed or come out later.
Example: When she was away studying, she mentioned a boyfriend in that city, and having left stuff at someone’s house there.
Turned out that she owned the house where she’d stored stuff and also lived with her boyfriend there. Odd, I thought, but perhaps she wasn’t comfortable discussing it.
We were both single after divorces. I date sometimes. A few years ago, she started dating seriously but only told me six months later though we hung out frequently.
A couple of years ago, she met her current partner and it’s going well. I’d not met him until her baby shower last year. Her explanation, “I’m a private person.”
Around this time, she told me a story about her work, which I later figured was untrue because she’d failed an exam.
We’re in the same profession and it was bound to come out. I understand it’s difficult or embarrassing. But the elaborate lie that she told to cover it up was odd.
More lies and delayed information: She talked about moving in with her boyfriend and a fight with the landlord forcing them to move, when they’d actually bought a house.
Meanwhile, I’ve taken her everywhere, invited her everywhere, introduced her to my friends and she’s barely invited me into her world.
I only learnt through our group chat about her baby being born.
I’ve always been there for her but her behaviour doesn’t feel right. She’s a little selfish so I don’t know if she’d even help me if I really needed help.
Am I overreacting? Is this normal?
Not Your Usual Friendship
She told you the one truth that explains her behaviour best: She’s very “private.”
You have a more open nature. Meanwhile, there must’ve been some pleasant times together or you wouldn’t have included her so much in your life.
It seems that you have her measure – that she may not be the first of your friends to run to help you – but that there’s still a friendship. It’s just not your closest one.
No, I don’t think that this woman’s an “opportunist,” because nothing you described here or in your much-longer letter, suggests that she’s taken advantage of you materially or socially.
Reader’s Commentary “Given the past Christmas when relatives visited, plus the ski-weekenders’ stays at my northern cottage, here’s a House Guest Primer that I’ve learned is essential:
“Bring a house gift that’s useful or usable. Examples: If you love to drink wine by the fireside, bring a few bottles (relative to the length of your stay and numbers visiting), a course for dinner that you’ve pre-checked re: food allergies of all present, in a pot/dish that you clean yourself and/or leave.
“Pack appropriate clothes for the “surprise” weather of snow/ice/rain, and don’t expect to “borrow” your host’s new skis and boots.
“Bring a book or reader for quiet time, along with your own chargers for phones, iPads and other devices.
“Bring your own devices and the good sense to know that a guest “participates” in conversation and activities, not just hunkers in a corner on the Internet.
“Bring a good mood or re-book the visit.”
Tip of the day:
Bickering couples need to hear that their arguments strain other friendships.