Harpy Fiancée

10 Mar

Letterbalm Dog LeashDear LetterBalm: My husband’s best friend is marrying a woman we have great misgivings about. She’s a few years older than he is, and she has a job that pays much more than his and that gives her a lot of visibility and prestige. All this wouldn’t make a difference because our friend is hard-working, honest and talented – plus, he’s a great guy everyone likes. The problem is that his fiancée is overbearing, sharp-tempered and demanding. She orders our friend around, belittles him to his face and behind his back and limits his time with friends and hobbies. Our formerly exuberant friend has become reticent and, frankly, henpecked. He rarely laughs or smiles. They’ve set the wedding date and are about to move in together. What can we say or do to make our friend reconsider?

–Friend on a Leash

This very personal state of affairs can give the frustrating feeling that it’s really none of your business. But human emotions interfere; it’s painful to see your friend diminished. People need to stop talking about the situation, which only fans the flames and could cause your husband’s friend to dig his heels in and defend his beloved more than ever. Ms. L.B. suggests that your husband is the person to talk to his close friend – and, he can only do it once, delicately. Your husband needs to broach the subject gently with no outright criticism of the fiancée, and he must reassure his friend that he isn’t judging him and that he’ll always be there for him. He must pick his moment carefully when the fiancée is nowhere around. Perhaps a private dinner with cellphones off while she’s away on business (and, no debriefing with the circle of nosy friends after the fact):

Caspar, you know that we’ve always been there for each other for more years than I can count. If for nothing else, we are each other’s best man at our weddings – I’m honored that you’ve asked me. Kate certainly is a dynamic woman, extremely accomplished in her work and many aspects of her life. It’s only natural that you and she are building a new, blended relationship. I know you love Kate very much, and I know you’re an adult who has carefully considered your pending marriage. Because you and I are such good friends, I feel I can say this: I’m concerned that you’ve adapted a lot of your life to Kate’s, and, in the process, that you’ve gotten lost in the equation. It seems that you’ve changed in basic ways, and that you’ve moved away from things you used to enjoy. I don’t want to lose my friend, and I certainly don’t want him to lose himself. I want you to be happy, and I want you to know two things: I’ll never judge your decisions, and I’ll be there if and when you ever need me.

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