Group Therapy is a relationship advice column that asks readers to contribute their wisdom.
A reader writes: My husband has a friend of whom I don’t approve. He seems to use my husband when he needs business ideas, help moving or his motorcycle fixed. This friend doesn’t reciprocate – except for giving bad advice. I don’t want my husband to have anything to do with this man, who I see as destructive to our marriage. I am flummoxed.
Don’t be too judgmental
Your husband obviously wants him in his life and enjoys his friendship, otherwise he wouldn’t be helping him all the time. Is this guy economically or socially disadvantaged? Not all friendships are equal and there could be a bond between them that supersedes favours given or owed. Respect this: Let hubby have a life.
Aaron Zacharias, Vancouver
Maybe you need help
We all have the right to make our own friends. Is it possible to calmly ask your husband what he’s getting from the friendship? My guess is that the problem goes deeper than this one friend and affects your sense of security. Maybe you and your husband need counselling.
Judy Steed, Toronto
It’s time to talk
The big question here is whether their friendship is detrimental to your relationship in any major way and if their problems become your problems. If, for example, your husband lent him some money and it jeopardized your mortgage payments or prevented you from going on that amazing trip to Rome together, then you have all the right in the world to be cheesed off. However, if their friendship is essentially harmless, then stay away from their camaraderie. If he’s as bad as you describe, your husband will probably realize it himself.
Olena Bykova, Ottawa
THE FINAL WORD
When you can’t control someone else’s behaviour, then control your own. Since you’re the wife, you have primary dibs on your partner’s time, but that means having to make your own needs known.
Aaron’s right. Your husband enjoys his friend’s company, so I’d start with a conversation, not complaining about the friend, but asking for more quality time for the two of you. I’d set a dedicated time each day where you do something together, as well as weekly and monthly activities. Suggest some classes the two of you could do together – dancing, cooking, wash your car, whatever, it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that these regular activities strengthen your bond as a couple.
The rule is no one is allowed to interfere with the time you’ve set aside for each other, including your husband’s friend. Once these routines are established, the next time your husband helps move his friend’s furniture, you’ll be too busy planning your latest excursion to notice.
Like Judy says, it’s important to have your own friends outside of marriage. I’d cultivate those friendships so when your husband’s busy, you’re getting an overdue manicure with the girls.
What you’ll find is that, because you have a rich and varied life with your husband, he’ll have less time for his friend and look forward to your company. In fact, you may eventually need this friend to take your husband off your hands once in a while.
NEXT WEEK’S QUESTION
A reader writes: On the renewal of our apartment lease, our landlords gave us a substantial gift card to thank us for being great tenants. When we used the card for dinner out with friends, our server pulled us aside to say the card only had $11.13 on it. Completely embarrassed, we apologized and settled our tab. My husband was fuming, but I’m trying to convince myself that it must have been a mistake. We rarely see them, and things have been great so far – we don’t want to rock the boat and we love our place, but are feeling insulted. Do we bring up the gift-card mishap? Or move on?
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