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Resist the temptation of the told-you-so's

By Carolyn Hax
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, March 9, 2011;

Dear Carolyn:

Ten years ago my (then) best friend married a woman who was beautiful, but controlling, isolating, manipulative, deceitful, etc. They have one kid.

She filed for divorce last week after having an affair with her wealthy boss, and she is moving out of state with the boss, leaving my friend stuck in a really nasty custody battle.

We grew apart some during the decade (not hard to imagine why) and I am trying really hard to be there to support him since most of his previous support system was eroded by the ex. How do you get past the urge to scream I TOLD YOU SO!?

Okay, I hate to be the guy who says this. How do you get him to see this as a new start instead of the end? And that poor kid . . .

Told you so

You are getting your friend back and your friend is getting his life back - or, at least, as much of it as the courts grant him.

These are cause for celebration, not told-you-so's - which you already plainly know. While it'll be tough to listen to tales of fallout knowing exactly how preventable the fallout was, you can make those sessions easier by reminding yourself that a lot of good friends/supportive families never see their loved ones escape the clutches of a control freak. He, and you, received a gift in the form of this wealthy boss.

In a way, so did the kid. I realize neither is a given, but as long as your friend is granted at least partial custody, and if he remains emotionally glued, then the child has a chance to experience one healthy home in his life. Just a glimpse of such a home can be the steeple s/he chases to remain on course through what promises to be a difficult youth.

As for your friend, there's no way to "get him to see" something he doesn't or isn't ready to believe. However, don't discount the importance of your belief in your friend's "new start." When that's the lens through which you view the next stages in his life, you enable him to see them that way, too, just through the regular, unselfish, consistent give-and-take of your friendship. Just by being, come to think of it, the way his wife apparently never was.

Dear Carolyn:

Our 32-year-old daughter is pregnant - maybe 11/2 months along. She and her boyfriend had already been talking marriage. He is a good young man with steady work.

The talk is about waiting until after the birth to have a wedding because she doesn't want to be fat. Well, she has been slightly overweight for the last five years. After a pregnancy, does she think she will automatically be thin? Obviously her dad and I are more traditional. Let's celebrate a wedding, then let's celebrate a new baby. Pros? Cons?

D.

Cons of meddling: telling her she'll be fat on both sides of her baby's birthday, and suggesting she marry per your values vs. her own.

Pros: You can (and please do) advise the couple to discuss their plans with a good family lawyer. Misfortunes happen, and responsible parents don't forfeit useful rights and benefits just so one of them will look nice in a dress.

Write to Tell Me About It, Style, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071, or tellme@washpost.com.

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