Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Dear Carolyn: One of my friends invited me to her wedding. She is also friends with a man I was in an abusive relationship with, and who assaulted me after we broke up. This all happened years ago.
If he is coming, I won’t come. If I just didn’t like him, of course I’d suck it up and go and be polite, but this is a potential threat to my safety. How do I handle this with the friend? The wedding is six months out and in my city, so there isn’t an easy or graceful way to bow out of it.
Yes, there is — or, I guess I should say, you have a pass on the matter of grace. This is your friend, which means presumably you like and care about each other. If my friend were in your position, I would want him or her to say to me directly: “X assaulted me after we broke up, and so it’s very important for me to know whether he will be at your wedding. I am sorry to put you in this spot, but please know I will handle this — all I am asking of you is information.”
If you feel you aren’t close enough to the friend to have this conversation, then you decline the invitation pre-emptively. Six months is plenty of time to arrange to be out of town, if that helps you make peace with your absence.
Dear Carolyn: My wife and I decided we both needed to lose weight. We went on a diet recommended by our doctors and were exercising almost every day. Initially things were great. She lost about 15 pounds, and I dropped 35. I’ve reached my goal; however, she not only gained the 15 pounds back, she added another 10.
She’s been extremely negative since then. We split cooking duties. When I cook, it’s something healthy. She won’t eat it. When she cooks, she always cooks something incredibly fattening (e.g., fried chicken). I'll eat a small portion of what she cooks so that she doesn’t blow up at me, and then I'll grab a salad later in the evening.
She told me I will never keep the weight off, so she’s not going to the extra trouble of cooking healthy meals.
I’ve kept the weight off for nine months now and no longer have cravings. She’s intent on making sure I regain the weight. How do I talk to her?
With a referee, because this is not about weight, it’s about her shocking hostility. Get counseling without her if she refuses to join you.
Also suggest to her that you stop the cooking system, because it’s the source of so much conflict. Say you care more about mutual support than about whose night it is to cook. Even take over cooking full time, temporarily, if that helps. Say you miss the way things used to be between you. Ask her how she would like this to go – big picture. Do a lot of listening.
There’s not much you can do when a spouse refuses to budge on something, but you can at least focus on the big picture of her lashing out, and not litigate this meal after meal after meal.
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