I highly enjoyed your answer to last week’s reader, so much that it inspired me to ask you this: How do you give a similarly unequivocal “Molly, you in danger, girl” warning if you are not an advice columnist but in fact just a person who hates her best friend’s husband? Pretty much every one of my BFF’s close friends know this guy is a misogynistic oaf and has been slowly killing her spirit over the past decade.
His bad qualities include, in approximate order of ascending importance: Not cleaning or helping her with most domestic duties. Being rude to and, in some cases, slut-shaming her friends. Being one of those fathers who wants a medal every time he hangs out with his toddler. Making homophobic and transphobic comments. Hiding the fact that he’s a drug addict and instead spending their joint savings on drugs — twice. And recently, being caught for cheating on her with multiple women over the span of a year, while she was caring for and breastfeeding their infant son. (He didn’t even confess — she found the evidence in his phone.)
What, as friends, can we do about this? We hated him in so many ways before the cheating revelations, and now we have a more socially acceptable reason to tell her to get out of this. But it still seems risky since he doesn’t physically abuse her or anything. We all just want to say, bluntly and explicitly: Leave him. Is there a way of doing that without completely losing her trust, especially since it seems very likely that she won’t do it?
Wow! Your friend’s husband sure does suck ass! Of course you hate him — I’ve only just read your brief description and I hope this guy gets shingles. There’s nothing worse than watching someone you love throw in their lot with a deeply undeserving partner. But, unfortunately — and I truly wish this weren’t the case — you can’t make other people’s decisions for them.
Unlike last week’s letter writer, who was at the beginning of a relationship with a man who had a history of physical and emotional abuse, your friend is already married to this dirtbag and does not appear to actually be in danger. It’s one thing to strongly advise a woman that she should dump a guy she’s been seeing for a few months before he assaults her, and another thing entirely to tell someone they married and had children with the wrong person, and that everyone else could see that all along.
That being said, I don’t think you should keep quiet here, either. You’re right that the cheating provides a more substantial peg on which to hang your concerns, although I don’t happen to think that is his gravest sin. It just sounds like the natural apotheosis of being selfish and self-involved and oblivious to the needs of his wife. The problem isn’t what this guy does, it’s who this guy is.
You don’t say if you have ever revealed to your friend what you think of her husband in the past, but it sounds like you and your friends have lately taken the “let’s be supportive and hope she comes to this realization on her own” approach. I think it’s time to try something else. Let her know that you love her, and because you love her you can’t stand seeing her waste another minute with someone who refuses to meet the most basic requirements of a partner. However, if you’re serious about this, you should also acknowledge how difficult and life-altering this might be for her to hear. Even a shitty dad is still an extra pair of hands, and I can tell you from experience that divorce is much, much worse than a simple break up. So you should also lay out all of the both emotional and material ways that you would be willing to help her take this step, if she chooses to.
And look, I won’t lie to you, she’s stuck with the guy for this long and the emotional sunk cost fallacy is a hell of a thing. You need to be prepared for her to make a decision you do not like. This could include her pulling away from your friendship and isolating herself even further. That’s a very real risk, and you need to decide ahead of time that it would be worth it.
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