I made the mistake of sharing too much information with my girlfriends about my husband during our recent separation. Now that we’re back together, they are critical of my decision to work on the marriage and won’t even speak to him anymore. I appreciate their concern but would rather have their support. I know I can’t get a do-over but is there any way to contain the damage?
Your question is a timely one since August 1 was officially “Girlfriend Day” and, for most women, having great girlfriends is a necessary ingredient of a fulfilling life. Close female friends can serve as a much-needed sounding board and support system during difficult seasons in your marriage and it sounds like this is the role your friends played with you during your separation.
However, you’ve pointed out one huge drawback of having such loyal BFFs. After no doubt hearing you pour out your heart about all the injustices foisted on you by your husband, they find it impossible to be objective (or even fair) and are letting you know in no uncertain terms that they’re not thrilled about your reconciliation.
I’m sure you now feel stuck in the middle between your friends and your husband. Conducting your normal schedule or activities when they can’t be present at the same time may be tricky and uncomfortable. And there may be additional complications when your husband is pals with theirs.
What to do? Here are some thoughts:
You may not feel you have anything to apologize for—and perhaps you don’t—but starting the process of making amends begins with an apology to your husband for creating this situation with your friends and another one to your friends for revealing too much about your husband.
This has the additional benefit of letting your husband know that he comes first and letting your friends know that you won’t cross that line again. That’s not to say that you can’t share your struggles with them, but that you won’t “rat him out” again in the same way you may have done when you didn’t think there was hope for your marriage.
Depending on the reason for your separation, what your husband’s relationship with your friends was like previous to that, and what he’s willing to do, it may go a long way for him to apologize to them for any mistakes he’s willing to own and emphasize his renewed commitment to you and your marriage. This could also create a powerful opportunity for forgiveness in both directions.
Thinking about blabbing about your spouse to your friends?
Here are 6 Reasons You May Want to Reconsider It.
Take It Slowly
I can imagine that you would love for your friends to be accepting of your husband and be okay with sharing air with him again. Instead of throwing them together all at once, create some incremental opportunities for them to come increasingly closer. For example:
>>> Ask him to pick up the phone for you (because you have your hands full) when you know one of them will be calling.
>>> Have them accompany you to drop off something at his workplace and ask him to come out to the car to say hello.
>>> Make sure he answers the door (but doesn’t linger) the next time your friends visit.
>>> Host an informal event at your house with others present and have them mingle (but not necessarily have to speak directly) with your husband and others very casually.
Your friends need to see that your husband is back in your relationship to stay and may warm up over time.
Set New Boundaries
Establishing a new fence line in terms of what you will and won’t share with your girlfriends is really important. And it’s not only what you share but how you share it that is crucial here. There’s a big difference between saying, “He’s such a jerk about doing things around the house” and “We’re still negotiating who-does-what around the house and don’t always agree.
Making it clear that you’re working together as a team with your husband should be the new status quo for you as things come up. Make sure you share his perspective along with your own. Be balanced; be fair. Saying, “I think we should hire a sitter but he feels the kids should stay with his mom” is much better than saying, “He’s so paranoid that he won’t let me hire a sitter and always wants the kids to stay with his crazy mother.”
You have the opportunity to serve as a great role model to your friends in this regard, as complaining about the hubs may have become the norm when you gab. You now have the opportunity to demonstrate how to speak about your better half in a way that is respectful and honoring. Whenever tempted to spout off, consider how you’d like your spouse to speak about YOU to his buddies and revise your comments accordingly.
Thank (and then listen to) Your Friends
Remember that your girlfriends have your best interests at heart and want what’s best for you! They don’t want you to get hurt again or be taken advantage of. In other words, they are good friends!
You can help them be even BETTER friends if you thank them for caring about you and then ask them to continue to do so by supporting your efforts to improve your marriage and get back on the right track.
If they can’t or won’t do so, ask them why and then listen closely to their response. Perhaps they are jealous. Maybe your experience reminds them of one of their own that didn’t work out as well.
There’s also a chance that their observations and concerns are completely VALID and they’ve noticed a harmful pattern in your marriage that makes them leery of your husband and his intentions. Perhaps they know something you don’t and you need to resist the urge to ignore their warnings. In this case, you should find out as much as you can, keep it in mind, and address these issues — perhaps with a professional (like me) — as you continue to repair things with your husband.
Whatever path you choose, there are ways to keep both your husband and your friends in your life (and in your corner)! Feel free to reach out to me below if I can help you and your husband create the kind of great marriage your friends will applaud. Your message will come directly and privately to my Inbox and I answer every single one!