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Archive for January, 2011|Monthly archive page

Wild Friends After Marriage

In Drama, Marriage, Mental Health on January 29, 2011 at 2:05 pm

Dear Yenta,

My husband’s best friend’s wife causes a lot of problems. We have a child, and they do not. They, in turn, do not understand what life is like with a child. They expect us to be able to drop everything and go out drinking, partying, etc. at the drop of a hat. Not only do we not want to do this, but we can’t. Recently, they didn’t show up at my husband’s birthday party. He shrugged it off, even though I knew he was very hurt by it.

A week later, she sent me numerous messages about how I took her husband’s best friend away, and they didn’t even know who my husband was anymore. This caused major issues. It has now been a month, and we just saw them this past weekend. Today was her husband’s surprise birthday party, and we did not attend. I have been under the weather, and my husband just didn’t want to go. She immediately attacked him via text message, claiming that I was not ill and telling him that he needed to be there. After he told her I was indeed ill, she proceeded to tell him that she understood that he needed to take care of his son, but he needed to also be there for his friend.

I want to protect my husband and go off on this woman. I have plenty of things to say, and I am at the point where I would really like to scream them at her. My husband is hurt. His friend never says anything to him, but his wife has plenty to say, only when she wants to start trouble.

Sincerely,

Allie

Not a friend for the wife and kids. Sorry, Lindsay.

 

Dear Allie,

The key to this question is in the first sentence, “My husband’s best friend.”  While this situation affects you, hurts you, irritates you, riles you, cranks on your nerves, it is ultimately your husband’s business.

Where are the men in this?  Aren’t there key voices missing from the scenario?  This guy’s wife is a pill, and that is a shame, but you certainly a) don’t have to entertain her antics and b) are only involved by extension.  This woman’s fears of your husband’s evolution and change, and her lack of boundaries altogether, are really her problem, not yours.

I would encourage your husband to face his friend and man up on both of your behalf.  All the angry text messages and sideswiping might just be a vile reaction to poor communication.  If this was your husband’s best friend before he found you, it is his job to smooth the transition from wild boozehound to solid husband and father, not yours.

And it is your job to protect yourself and your family.  Tell your husband how much this is upsetting you.  I think he needs to speak to his friend one on one, spend some quality time showing who he has become and how much he still cares.  That is, if he still does.

Sometimes people grow apart as they make smart and mature choices.  A friend from the old “bar days” may not translate, at least not immediately, into adulthood.  With time relationships change, and even through giant life shifts, the relationships that count evolve.

In ten years this couple may be a non-entity, or friends in a different capacity.  Sometimes when alcohol is involved in a friendship, it takes time and trust to find a new way to interact, sans social lubricant.  This requires investment and reconnection, and that job, as I said, falls on your husband’s shoulders, not yours.

Helpful Tips On Sober Friendships:

While your situation is different, take the lead from alcoholics who remake their lives, liquor free.

-Ask your friends to meet you in a place that doesn’t serve alcohol, a movie, a coffeehouse, a hike, a show.  Redefine the relationship with new physical perameters.

-Assess your friendship.  Was it contingent upon drinking and wild behavior?  The real friends remain, after sobriety.  Figure out the nature of your connection.

-Make new friends, based on your new lifestyle.  These may be the real lasting friendships.

-Be brave enough to let go of old friends who do not support the new, healthier you.

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Merissa Nathan GersonCreate Your Badge

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When Gay Means Guinea Pig

In Dating, Drama, Mental Health on January 7, 2011 at 9:33 am

Advocate.com calls Sarah Silverman a "Serious Gay Ally" for boldly declaring she would not marry until "All Americans can legally wed."

Yenta,

When my boyfriend and I first started to date, I heard through the grape vine that there was speculation one of his brothers might be gay. I immediately told the person who told me this to not spread rumors and that it wasn’t true. Please note that I am in no way homophobic! I am extremely liberal and I have walked in numerous gay pride parades in support of loved ones. I want everyone to be happy and I would never judge anyone upon their sexuality.

I met this brother, who is absolutely gorgeous. They have 4 brothers in total. Immediately, we had a lot of respect for each other and spoke to each other with ease. I had asked my boyfriend how on earth could he still be single, and I heard that every girl in their town was trying to hook up with him. It’s his good looks that led everyone to notice when he wasn’t hooking up with the good looking girls who threw themselves at him. Now that he is 24, it does seem a bit odd that he has never dated a girl.

As time went on, I couldn’t help but hear more and more about his sexuality from people from their town.  One night, a friend (even though this was not a FRIENDly move) asked my boyfriend about the sexuality of his brother in front of a group of people. My boyfriend got extremely awkward and didn’t say anything. Since him and I talk about everything under the sun, I thought it was strange he did not bring this up to me afterwards.

Recently, I received a phone call from a friend asking me about the situation. Her sister had told her that her boyfriend (my boyfriend’s brother) had confided in her and told her that the brother wrote them a letter months ago explaining that he was gay, and told them everything.

So at this point, we have been dating for years, and I know the truth. I want to show him that I am here for him no matter what, and I would never judge anyone for their sexuality. I don’t know whether he is embarrassed to tell me, or if he just doesn’t want to admit it to himself just yet. But what I feel most horrible about is that people are talking about it. Should I tell him just how many people have mentioned it to me and claim they know it is true? I have told everyone that has asked me that I have no idea and that it is none of their business to begin with. My boyfriend and I are very serious, and when I think of his family I think of them as my own.

Yours truly,

Trying To Do The Right Thing

Dear TTDTRT,

The first time I read this and answered this, I thought all along you were talking about the brother, not your boyfriend.  So, disclaimer, the paragraphs that follow this are a sassy response to that assumption.  See end for answer to actual question.

Original still-relevant answer to incorrect reading of question:

A big red flag in life is when someone openly declares “I am not….”  Usually, the need to declare what you aren’t, alludes a bit to what you are.  Ie, if you are so adamantly “liberal” and so die hard “not homophobic” then you would probably not be writing so much to prove it.

It sounds to me like this whole deal with your man’s brother batting for the home team is more about you, than about his homosexuality.  There is no evidence in this story that he is suffering, or that he needs you as an ally.  In fact, there is no imperative for a healthy sexy gay man to come out to the whole wide world.  There is no debutante ball for the homosexual emerging.

It sounds, however, like you really want to host a debutante ball for your boyfriend’s brother’s coming out.  What if he doesn’t want a ball, but wants a small dinner?  Ie, what if this guy is perfectly content being gay, living gay, and not speaking up and out about it?  You sound like you feel a need to communicate your acceptance, desperately.

How to be truly accepting?  Maybe stop heeding the talk and gossip about this guy and his private life.  People talking about him is not his problem, nor should it be yours.  It isn’t as if he killed a bunny, he lives an identity.  That’s it.  People’s fascination or repulsion is generally their own problem.

I would say stay out of it, work on your own relationship to homosexuality, and let this guy live a life in peace.  Be his friend, fine, but not in order to save his homosexual soul.

There are a million ways to exercise this need you have to be an ally to the homosexual community.  Try joining StraightForEquality.org, FriendFactor.org “Where straight friends stand up for their gay allies,” or join a Facebook group for allies to make your support publicly known.  Posting these groups on your profile is a great way of showing allegiance.  These are ways of also making yourself visible as a safe space should this guy ever decide he needs you.

Below is a list from GLAAD.org “The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation,” of 10 ways to be a straight ally, without needing, necessarily, to use gay friends as guinea pigs.

10 Ways to Be an Ally & a Friend

1. Be a listener.

2. Be open-minded.

3. Be willing to talk.

4. Be inclusive and invite LGBT friends to hang out with your friends and family.

5. Don’t assume that all your friends and co-workers are straight. Someone close to you could be looking for support in their coming-out process. Not making assumptions will give them the space they need.

6. Homophobic comments and jokes are harmful. Let your friends, family and co-workers know that you find them offensive.

7. Confront your own prejudices and homophobia, even if it is uncomfortable to do so.

8. Defend your LGBT friends against discrimination.

9. Believe that all people, regardless of gender identity and sexual orientation, should be treated with dignity and respect.

10. If you see LGBT people being misrepresented in the media, contact us at glaad.org.

Also check out “What Would A Queer Ally Do,” or “Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbian and Gays, PFLAG.org for other resources.

You might, in trying to do “the right thing” be getting too mentally involved.  In lieu of your boyfriend, maybe just ask him about it.  Your fear of the subject isn’t helping.  You don’t need to say, “hey, everyone knows your brother likes men, they are all gossiping!”  Why not just gently mention the truth?  Or, another option…don’t mention it and use the resources I posted to begin to show you are an advocate for the gay community.

Visible advocacy makes it more likely that your boyfriend might come to you.  Either way, be brave, try not to skirt the truth because in cases like this one, it throws everything out of proportion.  Also, try not to presume your boyfriend’s silence is a matter of shame and suffering or that his family needs your help.  This assumption doesn’t bode well for how you view homosexuality.  It is also possible that your boyfriend just doesn’t care if his brother likes girls, boys or smurfs.

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Merissa Nathan GersonCreate Your Badge