Murphy’s Love: Advice on Intimacy and Relationships
My friend is getting married in the spring. He and his fiancée asked me to do a reading at the wedding and I was happy to say yes. But in the meantime, she and I have had a few dis- agreements about politics and religion. Nothing earth shattering, but we do come at these things from different sides. It’s been highlighted at a few gatherings lately. Regardless of whether my friend agrees with my take on things (but, he does), her reaction to my views has been sur- prising. She has gotten angry and then pouted, ruining the evening for everyone else. Now my buddy tells me she doesn’t want me to do the reading anymore, because we “ fundamentally disagree” about faith. It’s their wedding, and I am happy to do (or not do) whatever they want, but I think this whole incident is highlighting something very wrong about their relationship. She is controlling and manipulative, and forces him to take sides against his closest friends. This doesn’t bode well for a long-term commit- ment, right? I’d like it if a friend of mine helped me avoid this kind of mistake. What do I do?
-Worried about my friend
I’ve said it before, but we outsiders really have no idea of what is actually going on inside another couple’s relationship. Thinking that we do is a real mind trap, so proceed with caution. (Notice me totally sidestepping the issue of mix- ing politics and religion at social gatherings...)
There is such a fine line between want- ing to help and sounding like you are trashing someone. If you do want to make your concerns known, be careful to read the situation and keep yourself out of the details. What I mean is, if Buddy actually is experiencing Fiancée’s behav- ior as manipulative, but is not quite at the place where he can articulate it, you might become just the scapegoat his unconscious mind may be looking for. Here are some dos and don’ts if you decide to pursue the conversation:
-Do sit down with Buddy and gently tell him you are supportive of him, but concerned about Fiancée’s attitude when faced with an opposing opinion.
-Don’t attack Fiancée’s character in any way.
-Do pay close attention to Buddy’s reaction to your concern.
-Don’t push it.
-Do accept the verdict that you are not doing a reading at the wedding.
-Don’t bring it up again.
-Do remind him that you are there for him, whatever happens.
-Don’t mistake your role in all this – you are his friend, but that does not mean you get a vote on this relationship.
Stacy Notaras Murphy is a licensed professional counselor and certified Imago Relationship therapist practicing in Georgetown. Her website is www.stacy- murphyLPC.com. This column is meant for entertain- ment only and should not be considered a substitute for professional counseling. Send your confidential question to firstname.lastname@example.org.