Ask Amy: In marriage, three’s a crowd

July 16, 2011

DEAR AMY:

My husband very strongly dislikes my best friend. He feels that she is a “bad influence” on me, as she is still dating and hasn’t settled down in her late 20s, goes to a gym that offers “pole fitness” classes, and had an abortion a year ago.

He also knows that I confide in her when he and I have a bad fight or when I need to vent about something relating to our relationship. She and I have been very close since before he and I started dating, and have known each other since we were in elementary school. She is always very supportive and I try to be there for her.

I am relatively newly wed and love my husband, but relationships are hard and I feel justified in having someone to talk to about problems I cannot always discuss with him.

He is always angry when I am talking to her on the phone and has gone so far as to hack into my e-mail account and read our e-mails to one another.

Heaven forbid the e-mail contain a reference to an acquaintance of ours we find attractive or a (justified or not) complaint about a habit of his.

My friend does not harbor any ill will toward him, but she is frank about her concerns that he can be controlling at times.

I hate having him sulking and angry, but I feel like I should be able to chat privately with my friend. We have been there for each other through a lot of difficult times, and share a lot of similar views on life.

-- Conflicted

DEAR CONFLICTED: Your husband is being unreasonable. But then, so are you.

The problem here is that you are putting your friendship with your girlfriend in the middle of your relationship with your husband. You also need to learn how to dole out information like a grown-up.

Why, for instance, would you tell your husband that your girlfriend had an abortion (I’m assuming you shared this with him)? And why are you venting and confiding in her about private matters in your marriage?

Your behavior invites each of these people to harshly judge the other, because you are sharing essentially private and/or negative information with each of them.

You don’t seem to have done anything to bring them together, and most of your behavior keeps them separate.

You three need a do-over. You should be able to chat privately with your friend, but you should also welcome your husband into the circle from time to time. And he needs to grow up, too.

DEAR AMY:

I have enjoyed the letters in your column about people displaying inappropriate “art” on their walls. I had a similar situation with my son.

When he became a teenager he announced that his room was his private territory and, like his friends, he was going to post Playboy-type pictures on his bedroom walls.

I explained to him that these displays were disrespectful of women and made me uncomfortable. But he persisted in saying he was going to do it.

I finally told him that it was his room and his right to display what he wanted.

I added that the front hallway was mine and I was going to put up cheesecake posters of male models and actors I liked, so I could look at them when I was sitting in the adjacent living room and guests entering the house could see them (particularly his friends). No posters went up anywhere.

-- Paula

DEAR PAULA: “Mom-logic” rules!

DEAR AMY:

I thought your answer to “Holding Our Breath,” (the suffering co-workers of an employee with multiple hygiene issues) was wimpy. I don’t know if you’ve ever had to work next to someone like that.

I’m puzzled why management is doing nothing. These co-workers need to speak directly to their co-worker. They seem to suffer from an amazing lack of assertiveness.

-- Not Shy

DEAR NOT: Many readers agreed with you. And I do, too, partway.

If management won’t make efforts to establish a cooperative and professional environment, then colleagues could be direct — as long as they were also respectful.

Write to Amy Dickinson at askamy@tribune.com or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

2011 by the Chicago Tribune

Distributed by Tribune Media Services

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