How do I support my friend through “reconciliation” with her abusive cheating husband?
Last year one of my best friends, “Leanne” found out her husband, A-hole, had been having an affair for six months, he told her they only slept together once, yeah right. When she confronted him he walked out on her and moved in with his Schmoopie, 15 years younger (they are both 53). Leanne was distraught. She showed me a few messages that her husband sent her including one where he told her that he realized he never loved her and was just “content” with her and he hoped she would experience the sort of real love that he had with Schmoopie.
Leanne went through an awful time and me and our group of friends tried our best to support her. She bought out A-hole’s part of their shared home and he bought an apartment close by her house (!) where he lived with Schmoopie. He said he insisted on a divorce and it was nothing she had done wrong but circumstances had just changed after he met Schmoopie and fell in twu wuv 4ever.
But fast forward to a year later when the bloom was off the Schmoopie rose and A-hole started to love bomb Leanne, telling her she was amazing and he realized it was twu wuv not with Schmoopie but with Leanne. I guess Schmoopie left him. During this time living apart A-hole would not let Leanne alone but called her every day to “see how she was.”
Anyway now he moved back in and is back to his old self where he blogs about cars and goes in chat rooms all the time while Leanne says she “supports him” by cooking cleaning and dealing with his 3 kids from a previous marriage (oh yeah A-Hole was married before, that marriage ended when he cheated on his wife…).
Leanne says she is in love and A-hole just made a mistake and he was tempted by that whore Schmoopie and he realized his mistake blah blah. I want to support her and I am glad she is happy but I am not buying the backtracking. A-hole is a smooth talking charismatic narcissist who comes across very charming but a little too charming. (He calls it “shining people up” according to Leanne).
Anyway Leanne wants me and our friends to go round to her home for a BBQ with A-hole and support them in reconciling and let him see that he made the right choice but… I just… can’t. Is that bad? Should I go and play nice? I saw her when she was throwing up and crying after A-hole sent those emails about how he never loved her, when he walked out and took all his stuff and half the house. I can’t act like it was a “mistake” he inadvertently made. Plus, I think it’s likely he will cheat again.
Leanne wants me and our friends to go round to her home for a BBQ with A-hole and support them in reconciling and let him see that he made the right choice…
Together? Is this the pick me dance as Ziegfeld Follies? A whole chorus line of you?
You made the right choice, Douchebag! You picked Leanne! We all agree!
Yeah, I would skip the Unicorn BBQ.
(Do you know that you can google anything? I googled “unicorn barbecue” and this awesome cartoon appeared by Oliver Ottitsch. )
See that flaming unicorn with a weenie stuck on its horn? That’s your friend. She’d be all “Oh, it’s only a flesh wound! Have more potato salad!”
I don’t think I could endure that, Marcia.
It sounds like your friend is giving you guys a bit of an ultimatum — love me, love my cheating asshole husband and publicly avow that you support us. (Did they ever get divorced? What happened to the apartment and the money?) You can choose to remain friends with Leanne and disassociate from the husband. You can also choose to avoid them both. But you don’t have to accept the unicorn combo plate.
Let’s explore these options.
1) Keep Leanne, try to avoid the creep. This won’t be easy. She’ll want to discuss the creep and share unicorn fever with you. You need to have some firm boundaries here. I would state your position: “Hey, I know too much to ever feel comfortable with this guy or support your reconciliation.” And then change the subject to scrapbooking, or whatever other interests you have in common.
“Douchebag sure does spend a lot of time car blogging at 3 a.m….”
“Hey, I noticed they just came out with new gel pens and squiggle scissors! Wanna scrapbook?”
You’ve stated your concerns and you’ve demonstrated that you’re still friends. You still love that creative person she was before Douchebag. You support her. You don’t support her idiocy with Douche. You’ll have to agree to disagree on him.
It takes a lot of loving patience to be a friend like this. Especially after you’ve had a front row seat to the infidelity horror show. My friend Yoma was like this. Most people in my life did not confront my hopium problem. They thought they were being supportive with the “We support whatever you do!” stance.
My truest friend was “Reconciling with that abusive piece of shit is an abhorrent idea. I still love you. Hope you come to your senses soon. Meanwhile, let’s check out the orchid show.”
If I tried to cry on her shoulder during reconciliation, she’d listen to 10 seconds of it and cut me off. She’d made her position known. She was essentially pushing it back on me — so what are you going to DO about it?
It takes a lot of guts to be this kind of friend. Most people show up at your barbecue, choke down the fraudulent sausages, and gossip about it later.
2) Detach from them both. This is sad, but sometimes you have detach with love when there is a hopium addiction. It may be that you just don’t share the same values. She would take this guy back at whatever cost to her self esteem. She may not appreciate your “not with Douche” position and further isolate herself. That’s a danger with people in abusive relationships — the abuser is actively trying to isolate them. And their own chumpy behavior is turning off friends and loved ones. People retreat from the discomfort and awkwardness, so it’s a reinforcing cycle.
That’s why I tend to prefer option 1. Keep the lines of communication open, but don’t compromise yourself by pretending to like the guy.
People will probably point out I’m missing the third option — He’s Really a Unicorn. Abandoning serial cheats can become good partners after being dumped by their affair partners!
I don’t believe that and I don’t think you do either. Behave accordingly.