Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Value diverse methods to avoid a full-blown mommy war
Working mommy: What is a non-mommy-war response to the comment, "Oh, I was so glad I didn't HAVE to work when my kids were young," directed to me, the 30-year-old working mom who perhaps can or cannot afford to stay home?
Carolyn: For some reason, the mental image that popped into my head was of Nitti in The Untouchables, saying from the car to Ness, "Nice to have a family." A non-non-mommy-war response, I suppose, but good and creepy.
You could say, "Hmm, it's nice to have choices." Choices being the currency of peace among mommy warriors, since it's agreed (if not deep-down believed) that it's not about one right or wrong way to do things, it's about being able to choose. Yeah? So it's a peace-lover's bird-flip.
What makes you beam might not be best for your bestie
Hope for the best? My close friend just married a man who is interested only in his job and in becoming rich. He doesn't bother getting to know her friends unless they have something to offer him in terms of networking or business advice. He didn't help plan their wedding (that he wanted and paid for as a show for his clients); she even registered for their gifts by herself because he was too busy or tired. They do not go out together unless it is for a work-related charity or social event.
She tells me all of this matter-of-factly — not as a complaint, but merely as a statement of who he is. She notes that she still does everything she wants, she just does it alone or with friends. Why she married him, I'm not sure.
I've known her over half my life and feel awful that eternity with this man is her future. What do I do? Just keep being nonjudgmental and listen to her descriptions of him? Offer an opinion or advice on how to improve the situation? Assume that she is happy or she wouldn't have married him? Collect names and numbers of available guys for when she realizes she could be with someone who actually cares about her?
Is it possible that she is happy? I keep convincing myself that she is …
Carolyn: You see: "Stuck making decisions by herself." If you walk about 45 degrees around that and look again, you just might see: "Free to make decisions by herself." Certainly some people look back warmly on the shopping trip where they chose their flatware as a couple, but others just want what they want without having to negotiate every time. For them, the fiance/e who says, "I trust you, have fun, go pick out whatever you want," is a gift from the gods.
So, yes, it's entirely possible she's happy, and not just because she isn't complaining. Different lives fit different people, and this life gives your friend both a partner and a good deal of personal space.
In other words, try walking those 45 degrees around all of your perceptions of their marriage, with the possibility in mind that she made the perfect deal for her — then see if that makes her easier for you to read. Not to convince yourself of anything, but instead to break you of the habit of looking at her life through the lens of the life you prefer.