I care about him and I know I’m not ready to walk away, but I’m hurt and tired of sharing him. I just know he’s someone I can see myself with, but this living in a limbo for four months is becoming stressful and painful. — The Other Woman
Oh, honey, no. He’s a married man — what are you thinking? That he’s going to leave his wife, you two will get an apartment, and everything will be perfect? He’s already told you if it isn’t perfect — if it doesn’t work out — he’ll hurt himself. You think things are stressful and painful now? Just wait until you have the burden of his life hanging over you. And there are so many ways and reasons this relationship wouldn’t “work out.” You think his wife is going to go quietly into the sunset never to be heard from again? Oh, hell no. They have kids together. There will be court dates, fighting over those assets he says he needs to “prepare,” and trying to figure out a way to co-parent in a way that best supports his kids.
And let’s talk about those kids. You think they’re going to think kindly of the woman who broke up their home? You think it’s going to be a cake walk dealing with them and that they won’t affect your relationship? As I said already, if you think this limbo period is stressful and painful, just wait until you’re dealing with a scorned ex-wife and two girls who blame you for wrecking their parents’ marriage.
I don’t think you’re a bad person — I don’t know you. But I do think that you’re in over your head, that you haven’t thought about how your actions are affecting other people, and that you do not have a clear idea what your future looks like with this man. It’s not an easy future, I can tell you that. And if you can’t even handle the four months of banging another woman’s husband because it’s just so painful and stressful for you, then you’re not going to be able to handle what comes next in this scenario if you stay with him. MOA. Save yourself the grief and get off this train wreck now, before even more people are hurt.
At some point, she came to me to talk about their wedding because I was supposed to be her Maid of Honor, and I told her I couldn’t support her relationship with Carl and I wouldn’t be involved in the wedding. She then she blocked me from her life and wouldn’t speak to me for six months. About a month ago she showed up at my doorstep at 10:30 p.m. with the news that she and Carl had gotten into another fight. She had tried to leave to cool down, and his response was to tell her she deserved to feel all his pain. And he then killed himself in front of her in their kitchen. She called her parents and told them she wanted to see me. I can never forget the screaming when she got the call that he was gone (after having been put on life support).
My issue is that now she is grieving, thinking that Carl was this great guy who loved her, and everyone is lying to her and going along with it. (Her parents did try to be blunt with her but that only backfired.) I want to be supportive of her and try to help her move forward, but I am happy Carl is out of her life. I wish he hadn’t died, but I am happy he can’t hurt her anymore. He had threatened to kill her before, and we feel so lucky that he didn’t kill her when he killed himself.
I don’t know how to help her if I can’t be sad or even share how I feel with her. — Trying to Be a Good Friend
Grief is grief, regardless of whom you’re grieving for or how that person treated you. That Mary’s relationship with Carl was as complicated as it was, and that she was so deep in denial, has potential to make her grieving process even more complex. Why complicate it any more by trying to convince her she’s grieving for a monster? I’m with the friends who are “lying” to her and going along with backing up what a great guy he was. Now is not the time to try to change the narrative Mary has clung to all this time. If you want to be a good friend — and I believe you do — encourage her to seek some grief counseling. Even absent the abuse she suffered, losing a loved one and watching him kill himself right in front of you is worth getting some professional support to help process all that.
If she finds a great therapist, maybe in time that person can eventually help address some of the issues in her relationship with Carl and help her see her worth and how she deserves better going forward. But you’re not her therapist and this isn’t your job. Your job isn’t to share how you feel or to even be sad with her. You can be grateful she’s no longer in harm’s way and hopeful she can move past the grief and eventually find her footing again. And you can do all that while even being a shoulder for her to cry on. You don’t have to have liked Carl to appreciate that Mary is grieving right now, and that’s all you need to focus on.
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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.