Your friend is getting married – which should be happy news, except that you believe they’re marrying someone they shouldn’t. While you don’t want to hurt your friend, you’re really concerned that they could be making a huge mistake. So, what should you do?
First, remember that just as it is ultimately your friend’s decision of whom to marry, your response to their choice is your decision. In thinking about your options, consider these guidelines:
Reflect on your objections. Your friend is choosing a spouse who is good for them, not you. So, what you may find off-putting or even repulsive is not important. Instead, the questions to ask yourself are: Is this person good for my friend? Are they happy together? Is there a reason to think that this will (or will not) continue?
Be curious about your friend’s choice. Rather than telling your friend what is wrong with their partner, ask their reaction to those things that concern you. For instance, you might ask what they think of their partner not having held down a job for the last five years. Or, as you express compassion for your friend’s deep hurt from yet another verbal thrashing, you might ask about their thoughts regarding this situation; and about their partner treating them so harshly. Hopefully, your friend will really think about your questions and seriously consider the issues those questions highlight. (While it can be tempting to lay your fury or disgust right out there, or give their partner a piece of your mind, such outbursts are unlikely to change the situation – except maybe increase tension between you and your friend.)
Challenge your friend’s decision. If your friend remains committed to their relationship and you are strongly against it, then you may feel compelled to talk directly with your friend about it. Tactfully explain your concerns. Remain focused on your concern for your friend rather than elaborating on the problem with their partner. So, instead of ranting about how possessive your friend’s girlfriend is, you might express your concerns that her desire to keep him close has isolated him from his friends. You may also explain your fear that he will end up alone, except for her. Be sure to emphasize that you feel compelled to say something because you care, but that you understand that this is their choice. Add that you will respect and support whatever decision they make, assuming you feel this way.
Wishing them well… without you. If you really can’t support the choice – for instance, you think your friend’s fiancé is abusing her and you are not willing to continue watching this happen – then be clear about this. You may wish your friend well and let her know that you will be there for her if she takes certain actions – such as leaving her abusive partner.
Accept your friend’s choice. If you ultimately decide to remain friends, then you’ll want to be there for your friend. Go to the wedding despite your reservations. Look for the good in your friend’s future spouse. Find ways to connect with them as a couple, if possible, or with your friend alone. And if your friend eventually questions their spouse and marriage, you can be there for that, too.
By remaining true to your role as a friend, you can find your way to the right decision for how to handle your friend’s marriage.
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