I’ve been very close friends with both “Molly” and “Sarah” for over fifteen years. Sarah is married to Molly’s brother, so they are both friends and sisters-in-law. We are very close to each other and with each others’ families. About two years ago, Molly moved away to a major city and became extremely liberal, which is fine. I was happy that she was growing as a person and finding her own way in life. However, our friendship began to be strained around the 2016 election. We have very different political views, which I am totally OK with but Molly is not. She stopped speaking to me the day of President Trump’s inauguration, but then she reached out to me a month later to apologize. I accepted her apology, and we acted as though nothing had happened.
Everything came to a head last August, though, after the Charlottesville riots. She and I had extremely different opinions on the situation. We did not get into an argument about it; we simply debated back and forth. A few days later Molly texted me that she no longer could be my friend because we share a “different morality” and she believes I am a racist, bigot, and Nazi sympathizer (which I am not). She refused to talk with me further about the situation. She wrote me off instantly, blocked my number, and blocked me on social media. Sarah told me she didn’t want to be in the middle of it because both Molly and I are her best friends. Sarah and I have remained close friends since the incident.
Molly recently came home for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I was told by Sarah I could not visit her home during that time because Molly refuses to be near me, which I can understand because it would be have been uncomfortable for everyone involved.
Here is the issue I’m having: Sarah is due to have a baby in the next few months and I assume Molly will be in town for the birth because the baby will be her nephew. I refuse to be told I can’t visit Sarah at the hospital because it makes Molly uncomfortable. Sarah and I have not had a conversation about this because I don’t even know how to bring it up. I don’t have a problem at all with Molly. She’s the one who ended our friendship. I can be an adult about it and be around Molly for the birth of the baby, but I doubt she’s willing to do the same for me.
Sarah is one of the only people in this world that I care for and I know she would want me to be there for the birth of her first son. What should I do about this? Should I put my own feelings aside and be the bigger person for the sake of Sarah and her family, or should I tell Molly to figure out a way to deal with my presence?
I would really appreciate your input. — Desperate to Be Included
You’re making a lot of assumptions about the birth of Sarah’s baby — who will be invited to the hospital, whether Sarah would want you (or anyone!) there, whether you will be welcome or not — without anything at all being communicated to you. You are deciding that you “refuse to be told you can’t visit Sarah at the hospital,” when: a) no one has told you you can’t visit Sarah in the hospital, and b) someone else’s labor and delivery isn’t about you. If you are, in fact, told you can’t visit Sarah in the hospital, the best way to support your best friend — a person you say is one of the few people in this world you actually care about, is to let her know that you understand and would love to meet her new baby whenever it is convenient and comfortable for her.
Having a baby is physically and emotionally exhausting. It’s very possible Sarah will not want anyone at the hospital but her husband and maybe immediate family. It’s a given that she will not want drama, and whether you like it or not: you + Molly = drama. Why invite that drama into the hospital? Seriously, why? Because you can’t wait a few days to meet the baby? Because you think Sarah won’t know how much you care about her if you don’t force yourself into the hospital as soon as you possibly can? Because Molly won’t know you’re Sarah’s favorite if she doesn’t choose you to be there over her? Come on, grow up. This is not about you. I don’t say that because my political leanings differ from yours; I say it because it’s true and I’d say it to Molly, too. Sarah’s labor is not about either of you so cut the damn shit.
You want to be a great friend? You want to let Sarah know how much you care about her? Ease the potential anxiety she might be feeling at the thought of you and Molly fighting over who gets to be at the hospital to support her and say: “Sarah, I’m so excited for you to become a mom, and I cannot WAIT to meet your baby! I would love to visit you at the hospital, but for any reason if that isn’t best for you, I will understand and hope to be among the first to visit you and baby when you get home. Please let me know if there’s anything specific I can do to support you in these final weeks of your pregnancy.”
If you “refuse” to make that message clear, because you “refuse” to be told you can’t visit Sarah in the hospital because you “refuse” to accept that someone else’s needs might be more important than yours for whatever reason — even if that need is for Sarah to have peace in the hospital because she just gave birth and she doesn’t want to deal with drama, even if said potential drama isn’t your “fault” — then you’re being asshole. I would say that to someone who didn’t vote for Trump, too, and who didn’t believe that those young men marching in Charlottesville in August with tiki torches yelling “Blood and Soil” and “Heil Hitler” were anything other than Neo Nazi terrorists.
“Winning” isn’t always worth it, friendships often have expiration dates (and realizing you do not share a similar moral compass or world view is as good a reason as any to move on from a friendship), and the best way to support someone isn’t always what is most fun or convenient or satisfying for you. And since this is unlikely to be the last time you feel competitive with Molly over your friendship with Sarah, the faster you accept that there will be occasions when Molly’s role as family trumps (no pun intended) your role as best friend, and that any exclusion that may result is not a reflection of your prominence in Sarah’s life or heart, the better off you, and everyone else, will be.
In the last few months, I feel like our relationship has begun falling apart. He quit his job back in July to pursue a business, and the added financial and career-related stresses are not helping. I am trying to be as supportive as I can, but over the last couple months I’ve noticed increasing co-dependency and selfishness on his part. For example, he will ask me to get him something or lend him a hand when he is perfectly capable of executing said task on his own. Yesterday he called out to me from another room to get the razor he left on the counter while in the shower, a literal arms-reach away.
From a selfishness perspective, he cannot seem to help me out without direction. And when I do give direction, he half listens. He also seems to fail at taking initiative to help me. Take last week, for example: We were leaving for Christmas out of town (driving) and several things needed to be done. I asked him to get dog food for our sitter and he failed to do so. Then he left it on me to decide what to do when we had to go and we had no dog food around. He sat on the couch while I gathered the things to put in the car. Then, while we got to our first stop on the road and we were getting ready for bed, he helped my daughter get the pullout bed out while I brushed my teeth. I came back into the room from the bath to find my daughter lying on the bare mattress with just a pillow while he was lying in bed playing on his phone. He got pissy when I asked why he didn’t grab the linens and at least give them to her!
I’m frustrated and feel that, without help from him, I am like the train conductor of our “life train”–or his mother! I don’t know what to do. — Not His Mother
Well, the obvious reply is: Have you discussed with him how you’re feeling? If you have, what is his response? Does he say one thing and do another? Did he talk to you about quitting his job and “pursuing a business” or did he just do it without consulting you? It seems fishy that mere months after moving in with you — and, I assume, merging finances, or at least, merging household expenses — he took an enormous step like quitting a job to pursue a business — a step that he must have known would put some financial, if not emotional, strain on him (and, by extension, you).
Did he think moving in with you allowed him some financial freedom he didn’t have previously to quit his job? Did he talk to you about it? Are you feeling resentful about this step he took? Because I sure would be if it weren’t something I was really onboard with. Moving in with a partner — especially one who has a child who lives with her fifty percent of the time — is enough of a transition without adding such a big one on top of that so soon. It sounds like he hadn’t yet adjusted to the demands of parenthood and that perhaps you the two of you — well, three of you, really — hadn’t yet figured out what his role would be as a father-figure in the home, as evidenced by his total disregard toward your daughter in the example you used.
If you haven’t already, you need to be really clear about what role you see him playing in your household. How much help do you want with your daughter? What sorts of tasks do you expect him to take on in regards to raising her? What financial role do you expect/need/want him to play? How long are you ok with his business pursuit being a financial strain on him/ you/ the household? Really, these are all questions that should have been discussed extensively before you moved in together. With a child involved, there should have been total clarity about expectations and roles. Maybe there were and what you are describing is fairly new behavior. Maybe your boyfriend is depressed. Maybe the business venture is not going as planned and he’s worried. Maybe the way you think you’ve been supporting him isn’t the kind of support he needs.
Clearly, he is not supporting you in the way you need. You have to communicate this to him, stat. The two of you need to get on the same page immediately — like within a couple of months — or I think you need to call this cohabitation experiment finished and move on. As a mom, you don’t get the luxury of figuring things out at your leisure. Your daughter deserves a home where she is emotionally, physically, and financially supported, where she feels safe and cared for, and where roles are clearly defined and respected and relationships are not on trial. That does not sound like your home currently as you describe it.
If you feel like you’re mothering your boyfriend, that needs to change asap, and you need to focus on the child whom you are an actual mother to. She deserves better than this, and I think you do, too.
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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy(AT)dearwendy.com.