Dear Carolyn: I’ve long thought I’d rather be married to my wife’s friend (they met after our marriage), because Friend and I have more similar interests and personalities. Wife has even non-jealously commented on our apparent compatibility.
I’ve waited years for these thoughts to fade, but they’ve only gotten stronger. Friend has a positive outlook on life, whereas Wife’s issues with moodiness and negativity can be draining.
I don’t know how Friend feels about me (she’s single). Wife and I don’t have kids, and if I could press a button and have a new life with Friend, I’d do it. But I know it isn’t that simple.
So, what should I be asking myself in figuring out what to do? I never thought I believed in divorce with non-abusive marriages, but the idea of how much happier I could be has me very confused.
A: There’s only one question to ask yourself: Would it be right to leave your marriage if this friend didn’t exist?
For your purposes, she doesn’t. Your “much happier” ending is too messy and too speculative to be treated as a realistic option.
But your wife’s “moodiness and negativity” do exist; is she unhappy, too? Talking about each other’s needs, and whether they’re being met – with a good therapist, if that helps – is your best option. Distance from Friend is essential.
It’s just one question, packing a seriously difficult answer.
Negativity is off-putting
Dear Carolyn: Years ago my family of three moved to a new part of the country where we knew no one. A woman at my job befriended me and I was very grateful. Over the years we grew close.
Since then she has retired, and her negative aspects seem to be getting much worse. For example, she has NOTHING positive to say about her husband, who is a decent guy. She feels her son-in-law is a good-for-nothing.
I’ve tried countering with modulating remarks, but they ALWAYS are ignored. I’m just tired of it all. I want to walk away, but how? She continues to seek me out.
A: You skip the easily ignored “modulating remarks” and tell hard-to-ignore truths: “When you rip your husband, I feel uncomfortable/put off/sad.” Or: “You so rarely have a kind word for your husband. Is it possible your negativity is as much cause as effect?” Maybe these seem unfriendly but appearing supportive while silently wishing she’d go away won’t sweep any kindness awards. Whether her negativity stems from boredom or advancing age (both common culprits), there’s absolutely no reason you shouldn’t express your unhappiness with it. If she appreciates your candor, then your friendship will be better for it. If she resents it, then she’ll likely “walk away” for you, sparing you the trouble of doing it yourself.