Friends Caught in the Middle
A woman called the other day to ask if she handled a situation correctly.
A couple she and her husband are friends with are divorcing, and the husband was lying to the wife about being out of town when really, he was hanging out at the bar with this woman’s husband. When the friend found out, she decided she had to tell the wife the truth.
So she made the call.
The woman wondered if she did the right thing. Can you keep both spouses as friends post-divorce?
If you know the husband, who initiated the divorce, has already found a new flame, do you let the wife know? Or keep quiet?
And in the end, although this woman and her husband have been friends as couples with the couple splitting up, can they realistically remain friends with both former spouses once the divorce is official? Or will they have to choose?
The woman was feeling guilt for a variety of reasons: because her friend was hurting, because a couple in their friend group was splitting and affecting the entire friend group, because she knew information that the unsuspecting wife did not, because the husband was truly being a jerk.
And then she felt guilt because her friend lashed out at her, instead of at the information, at the wayward husband, which of course is a safer reaction. She knows her friend will remain her friend. As her husband turns her life upside down, the woman, who had never worked outside the home, grabbed at reactionary straws to help maintain some kind of order in her emotions, by blaming the messenger, instead of the message.
Unfortunately, I don’t have good news on this topic. I’ve seen too many times that it is highly unlikely that you will remain friends with both people in a couple when that couple breaks up.
In theory, sure, why not? In theory, we are all humans with emotions and we can relate on a very human level with each divorcing spouse.
But loyalty is another matter in practice, and people are incredibly vulnerable when going through a divorce. That vulnerability deepens when they begin to lose friends and peer groups, too.
It’s like a caterpillar shedding its cocoon to become a butterfly. It never crawls back into the cocoon.
And like that, we must move forward to inhabit our new lives fully, with fondness for the good elements of the past and the wisdom that brighter futures lie ahead.
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November is often considered a month to focus on gratitude, and I believe gratitude and patience are important assets in divorce. First, you can’t be angry and appreciative at the same time. One must outweigh the other.
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