I Want To Help My Friend BUT I Also Need a Life!

Dear Hillie:

I have a friend I recently re-connected with whose husband of two years told her a couple days ago that he doesn’t love her. She spent that night in the apartment I share with my boyfriend and our roommate and It was a bit of a nightmare. She drank alcohol for the first time that night and spent the entire evening practically throwing herself at my roommate against my advice. The next day, I told her she had to go home and talk to her husband to figure out what they were going to do. I found out today that they had sex that night, pretending that everything is okay, but he still won’t say that he loves her. I told her that they really needed to talk about what was going to happen with their relationship and she said she would but if she didn’t like where the conversation was going, she could always come spend a few days with me. This is NOT an option. How do I firmly but caringly tell her that even though I don’t have a job or a family to take care of, I have my own life that I need to keep living and that I can’t just take a week off job hunting and being with my boyfriend to constantly babysit her? Also, how do I make her understand that, even though she loves him, if they can’t work it out she needs to leave him?

Hillie says:

You are in a difficult position. On the one hand you want to and should support your friend, but on the other you cannot neglect your own responsibilities.

I have three pieces of advice for you to consider:

First, I think you should advise your friend she should not leave her home and that staying with you would only harm the situation; if her husband is unhappy with their relationship and no longer loves her, he must be the one to leave. It is easier to be miserable without him with a roof over her head than homeless.

Second, they need to seek professional help such as a Relate Counsellor to help sort out their problems. The Counsellor will help them talk to each other about their relationship, how they feel about each other, what they both want out of it and whether it can be repaired. Should one or other or both of them decide they cannot approach Relate, maybe you as a friend could offer to be with her as moral support when she talks to her husband. If you have a good relationship with your boyfriend I’m sure he would understand you taking time off to be with your friend for an evening.

Third, your friend is feeling upset and vulnerable at the moment so assure her that she has your support and you will be there for her as much as you can but you have to continue working hard to find a job and not neglect your own relationship. You also feel it would be unfair to expect your boyfriend and roommate to share their home with a stranger.