Steps to share your concerns about her choice
When you watch you friend in a relationship that is less than healthy, it can feel pretty helpless. If she actually declares that they're going to tie the knot, you will feel even worse. It's like standing on the curb together and watching as she starts to step into the street.
You can see the headlights coming, but she insists on walking out. Chances are, you can’t stop her — all you can do is watch the accident happen and be there to offer first aid when the time comes. Still, should you say something or keep quiet if your friend is marrying a loser? Sometimes when you speak up about not liking a friend’s partner you may permanently damage your friendship, and other times your friendship can withstand the discussion. The way you approach her can make all the difference in whether your friendship makes it through you pointing out the red flags you see.
Here are a few tips on how to handle it when your friend is marrying a loser:
Use “I” Statements
Rather than saying “You’re about to marry this loser?!?,” talk about what you see as a problem from your perspective and give concrete examples. For instance “I see him calling you names, like at dinner last night, and it makes me feel like he doesn’t value you,” is better than “Why the %&$! would you let him talk to you like that?” When you place an emphasis on explaining yourself with compassion rather than blaming your friend for stupidity, she may be able to see the situation more clearly from your eyes. Even if she is defensive now, your words may plant a seed that will cause her to stand up for herself later. Just because your friend is marrying a loser, it doesn’t justify you to be critical towards her situation.
Be Clear About Your Motives
Your objective should never be to break up your friend’s relationship. She needs to make the decision to end her engagement (or, more likely, not to end it) on her own. Just like you want to feel responsible for your own life, so does she. Be clear when you express your concerns that you’re not trying to talk her into breaking up today, but you love her and want to express some genuine concerns. Keep the focus on why she deserves better than the treatment she is receiving from her fiance, reinforcing that you are coming from a place of loving her and wanting her to be in the best possible marriage. Don’t try to convince her to leave him, because she will more than likely get defensive and think you are crossing a boundary. You might even make her LESS likely to end it just so you don’t say “I told you so.”
Maybe your friend will reveal to you that she has been doubting her decision, but feels like she is “stuck.” Offer concrete ways that you can help her. Tell her that you will call the wedding vendors and negotiate a refund, or even handle the official letter that informs people that the wedding is off. She may still go through with the wedding, but offer your support anyway. You can’t make your friend make what you think is a smarter choice, but you can offer a safety net if she decides to call it off.
What has helped you when your friend is marrying a loser? Share your ideas by commenting!
About Jennine Estes, MFT
Think of me as your relationship consultant, I'm your neutral third party that can help you untangle the emotions and help you figure out what's really going on. I am a Marriage and Family Therapist in San Diego, CA. Certified in Emotionally Focused Therapy for Couples. Supervisor. I write relationship and self growth advice for my column Relationships in the Raw. Creator of #BeingLOVEDIs campaign. MFC#47653