Note Well

10 Jun

Letterbalm Pen and PaperDear LetterBalm: My best friend since high school (and best man at my wedding) is married himself. But his marriage is the polar opposite of mine. His wife is critical, domineering and verbally rough toward him and their kids. She loses her temper and yells the craziest, mean things constantly, even in front of friends and family members. He loves his two young girls and spends a lot of time with them because his wife doesn’t have much patience with her daughters. He feels he must be a buffer for her anger and abuse. He says he knows he should move for a divorce, but he’s afraid for the kids if she’s with them alone. He says he doesn’t want to take a chance that she’ll get custody. What should I tell him?

–Best Buddy

This is a sad case, and it’s a sure bet that the little daughters are being scarred. Ms. L.B. says you need to urge your friend to seek expert help right away to put his ducks in a row to save his ducklings. The fact that his wife is abusive in front of others certainly indicates she’s out of control and may mean that she has a medical problem in addition to psychological ones. Urging her to get help will only set her off. See if you can take him and the children for a fun visit to their grandparents or other trusted adults. Then, take your friend for coffee or a beer and tell him this, understanding that you may have to persuade him several times because he’s anxious and scared:

Navier, I’m glad we have this chance to talk. You’ve been worried about what will happen to the girls if your marriage breaks up. Keisha is a good woman in many ways, but she isn’t good with her kids, and she shouldn’t have custody. I’m telling you, bro, you need expert help and you need to do it without telling Keisha so she doesn’t get angry. I’ve checked around and here’s the name of a divorce attorney who represents husbands in custody issues. You need his advice fast. You also need to keep records of when Keisha loses it with the girls. This is abuse, and you need to write down the date, time, who was there and what happened. You also need to ask the lawyer if a hidden camera is legal. Keep these records away from the house so Keisha won’t find out – take your notes as soon as you can at your job and keep the records locked up. The lawyer can help you with all this. And, you might see a counselor to figure out how to protect the girls emotionally and deal with Keisha’s anger. I know all this makes you sad, man, but I’ll always be your friend and have your back. Please do this right away – tell me how I can help.

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