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More like a maid than a fiancé

My friend’s fiancé won’t help with chores and makes her feel like a maid. 

How can I help? You can’t make her leave him, says our elder. All you can do is continue to be her friend.

 

Original Letter

My best friend is engaged to a man, they have two kids together and another on the way. She is a stay at home mom and he works. He is not physically abusive. He loves her and the kids. This is an undisputed fact. However he will not allow her to have access to their bank accounts (groceries, bills etc). He won’t help with laundry, chores, etc. He won’t let her get a license. If she ever wants to get out of the house to hang out with a friend without the kids (which is rare), she has to do him a ‘favor’. If she asks him to feed the kids, change a diaper, bathe them, pick up toys, watch the kids so she can shower, wash dishes, etc, he either whines and won’t do it or says he will but just doesn’t. She has tried calm conversation, yelling, crying, opening her heart telling him sure feels more like a maid than a fiancé. Nothing works. I don’t think he would take her seriously. He is probably scared she will leave him if given the chance. She won’t, she loves him. How do I help her? I know it’s not my responsibility… But she feels like she is stuck. She can’t leave, she has nowhere to go, no family, no money.

 

GranJan replies

It’s really painful to see someone you love making a decision or a choice that seems wrong to you. I can see that you truly care about your friend, and it hurts to see the kind of life she is living.

Of course, you and I would like to see her find a way to be more in control of her own life. We’d like her and her husband to go to a marriage counselor, or – if the husband refused – for her to see a counselor on her own. I think it’s perfectly reasonable for you to suggest such a thing.

Beyond that, though, and beyond continuing to be a good, caring, supportive friend, I don’t think there is anything you can do. She is making a choice to stay with this man, and to have his children. She knows exactly what life with him is and will be. You say that she is “stuck” and can’t leave; that’s not true – leaving would be difficult, would require sacrifice, would be hard on the kids, would need careful planning – but it would be possible if she absolutely wanted to do so. She doesn’t. She loves him. Period, end of story.

So my best advice is that you continue to do exactly what you’re doing right now: be the support she needs, be an island of sanity in the pretty crazy world she’s living in. Help her when and if she asks for help. And – this is really important – take care of yourself! Just because she is throwing her life away (or so it seems to you) doesn’t mean that you have to be emotionally wrenched about it. Keep some emotional distance from her, so that her pain doesn’t become your own.

I’m glad you wrote to us, and I hope some of what I’ve said makes sense for you. I’d also like it if you wrote back and let me know how both you and your friend are doing. I’ll be thinking of you, and sending you a big bucket full of virtual hugs. Good luck!

Article #: 455454

Category: Friendship

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