Tell Me About It: An occasional push helps to stay on track

Published August 7
Updated August 7

Q: What responsibility does a wife have to push her husband to be a decent friend? For years, my husband was close with a few guys from grad school. As they got married and started families, the frequency of their get-togethers died down and the friendships have understandably cooled, but they are still the people my husband calls friends.

One lost his mother last week and asked my husband to come to the viewing. For nebulous reasons, my husband wavered and then backed out at the last minute. This week, there’s another opportunity to support the same friend — helping him clean out his late mother’s garage, which a few other guys are gathering to do with him — and my husband is again starting to spin together some flimsy excuses.

He’s not too busy, he’d just rather not, which I think is appalling, considering the length of the friendship. Do I need to do anything here, or do I stay out of it and let my husband’s friendships take whatever shape they will over the next several decades?

Spouse

A: I think this warrants an exception to the leave-him-to-it rule. A well-placed "Get your butt over there and be a friend" can be a friendship-saver, as well as a gift to your husband given that the chances he comes home regretting that he helped are probably verging on 0.

Just in general, I think the (very) occasional butt-kick is in the job description of close friends and family — and that avoiding it in every single circumstance is taking the hands-off approach too far.

Anonymous: This probably comes from not knowing what to say to his friend and feeling embarrassed about that. That’s hard for everyone but just showing up makes the difference. Can you weave this into your butt kicking? He will feel much worse later if he’s notable by his absence because of awkwardness.

Carolyn: Good point, thanks.

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