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Q. I am pregnant and shared the news with my best friend, who has struggled with infertility for quite some time, so I knew I needed to be sensitive. But her response floored me. She came out and said that it’s “not fair,” that “everything always happens easily” for me, and she even strongly insinuated that I did this to upstage her and surpass her. This hurt, and the ironic thing is that she doesn’t realize that we were trying for quite some time (I didn’t want to talk to her about it because, again, sensitive subject). How do we move forward from here? I knew it would be tricky but I felt nothing but hate.
I am sure it stung, like hate would. But while you certainly didn’t deserve this response to be directed at you, it will help to understand that it’s not ultimately about you. She hates her own situation. And your news — though it’s not your fault — caused her pain. Since you were already mindful of how it could affect her, you were likely hoping for the same sensitivity — but she’s blinded by her own struggle right now. You can’t control her acceptance of your news, but you can offer her patience and empathy. Give her time and space, and a heads-up. “I admit I was very hurt by that response, but I know you are on your own path right now. I’m going to try to give you some time to adjust, but I love you and hope we can get back to a place of supporting each other.”
Dad’s making a bad split worse
Q. My parents are going through a messy divorce in their late 60s, and honestly, my siblings and I have felt that it needed to happen for decades. The issue is that my father seems to have the expectation that we are going to “side” with him, and he is already talking like we’ll spend holidays only with him, etc. We are all grown adults; there is no “custody” arrangement, thank you very much. And it is true that my sisters and I are somewhat closer to our dad emotionally, but he is treating my mother with such disdain that this is affecting how I view him.
It’s the “grown adults” concept you can take to the bank, and not let his power grab win. Let him know, in a private conversation, that he harms your relationship when he tries to make this more conflict-heavy than it already is. And explain that there aren’t “sides” — there is a family of adults. Since he’s having trouble charting a reasonable course, help him build one. Propose, for instance, a specific holiday schedule that works for you — even better if you’ve collaborated with your siblings — and establish that you will not tolerate disdain toward your mother. He’s probably coming from a place of fear: Perhaps the threat of losing time and closeness with you guys was what kept him and your mother together for decades longer than they should have been. So show him that that doesn’t have to be jeopardized by the divorce, and mean it — if he’ll do his part.
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