Friendly Persuasion

20 Nov

Dear LetterBalm: Everything is O.K. between my husband and me except for one thing: He is controlling about my friendships. I can understand because he was raised by domineering parents who didn’t allow him to have friends. He maintains only superficial friendships through his work and no close relationships with his siblings. He gets annoyed with me when I want to get together with people I’ve known all my life or dear girlfriends, and he won’t allow us to participate in couples’ evenings or meet people. He even begrudges holiday family gatherings. This is making me very sad, and we fight a lot about it. I’ve had to make up excuses about being late and unreachable at work when I want to see a friend for dinner. How can I soften my husband’s attitude? He says friendships are unnecessary and won’t see a therapist.

–Friendless

How sad to go through life without the soothing presence and joy of friends. Your husband’s parents have damaged him and his siblings, perhaps irreparably. You have some serious decisions to make. You don’t say how long you’ve been married or if children are in the picture. (If not, for heaven’s sake, don’t get pregnant until this is resolved.) You can empathize with your husband’s not understanding the importance of friends, but he’s not being fair in not wanting to explore his neurosis, and you’re lying to him about hanging out with those close to you. Ms. L.B. encourages you to find a therapist to help you get a handle on this. Only you can know if his behavior warrants a trial separation. Be aware that, more than friendships, your husband may try to control other aspects of your life together. If you decide to have a last-ditch conversation with him, try this:

Andre, you don’t understand why I think friends and family are important, and I’m done fighting about it. Your parents horribly damaged you and your brother and sister by not allowing you to develop friendships. They crippled you, and you need serious therapy to heal. Either you agree to talk about this with a counselor, or our marriage is over. There is no negotiation here. Maybe it’s fear of therapy, maybe it’s something else, but you’re controlling my life in ways are unacceptable to me and harmful to us. You have many good qualities, and I want the man I fell in love with. I want us to reconcile and move forward, certainly before we have children who must have friends in their lives.

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