Advice Column: Response to Fed up

Dear Hailey,

My friend is wanting to divorce her husband, for various and valid reasons,and they have a child together. She has moved out from their home together and is living with her parents again, which she is struggling with. She is having a hard time moving on from the idea of an intact family, but continues to spend a lot of time at her former home with the ex and their child (who is also having trouble accepting the change).

This feels a lot like playing house to me, and it seems like it’s confusing for everyone because she goes back and forth with wanting to be with him, while he seems content to use her time and attention without giving anything real in return (as in, even answering yes or no to her asking if he wants to try again) and their child just wants his mom to move back in. 

It seems like a bad idea for them to spend so much down time together in their former home for all of their sakes but I don’t know if it’s crossing the line for me to point that out. She has been very open in talking with me about her feelings and thoughts on the divorce and taking advice, but plays jump rope with choosing to stay involved or go her own way. 

I know that having a child together means they will always be in each other’s lives, but wheres the boundary and should I say something as her friend? It’s becoming very emotionally difficult for me to continue watching and hearing her actively TELL me about her being dragged along and not letting herself have the life she deserves, but I don’t want to push her away by pointing it out (multiple times at this point). 

Would it be selfish for me to walk away if she continues to not heed the advice I give that she agrees makes sense or that the actions she acknowledges herself that she needs to take regarding the ex and their pending divorce? It’s been a year now of her going back and forth on her feelings towards him from (verbally at least) not caring at all, to caring a whole lot and wanting to date and try fixing the relationship (for him to inevitably let her down again). 

It’s exhausting as her friend to see and hear these things that I know are hurtful to her in the end, and see how resilient she is and how she uses that trait as a reason for how and why she’s going to survive the decisions shes making.

My main question is, this will be the 10+ time I feel like I need to tell her she needs to spend less time with him, let their agreed upon custody be what it is (as in, her not spend the weekend at the exes house when it’s not her weekend to take care of their child) and try to let everyone move forward with the decision for divorce, starting with her. I’m at my wit’s end, should I even bother being frank with her? Or do I have to choose being supportive or walking away? Can I tell her I just don’t want to hear it anymore unless its that she’s finally moving on?

I understand the emotions and hurt from divorce take a while to heal from and I’m more than happy to be there for her during THAT, but the back and forth with ex is frustrating me and I don’t know what to do.

Fed up

Dear Fed up,

It’s absolutely frustrating to watch a friend make poor choices continually, especially when you have given her advice that she continually ignores. You care about her, so it’s painful to watch her repeatedly make the same poor choices and suffer the consequences. 

It’s important to put yourself first, and recognize when friendships are becoming consistently dysfunctional and emotionally draining. However, you don’t need to support her choices to remain in her life. You can distance yourself from that part of her life, and remain friends. 

She can’t move on while still spending long periods of time with her ex, you are absolutely correct. The behavior is definitely preventing progress, and is absolutely dysfunctional. It’s up to you if you want to share your feelings with her. It’s not out of line, true friends are honest with each other and speak up when they are concerned about their wellbeing. 

When you approach her, just remember that you are coming from a place of love, and concern. Try and focus on that and make it the center of your conversation.

Again, don’t feel guilty for doing what you need to for you. Just be honest and open, and be mindful with your timing. I wish you luck. 


Posted in Q&A

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