Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Wife doesn't want to renew old friendship but husband does
Q: Twenty-plus years ago, my husband and I used to be good friends with another couple. We grew apart over time, with different values and child-rearing philosophies. After they treated our son and me extremely rudely (not my being oversensitive, my husband agreed) at a gathering about 15 years ago, we stopped seeing them.
Periodically, the guy would get in touch, trying to sell things to me professionally.
About a year ago, he and my husband reconnected. They have similar musical tastes and have fun going to shows together — cool. However, the guy keeps wanting us to get together as couples.
I have absolutely no interest in doing so. By the time we originally ended the friendship, I really found them repugnant. My husband and I are both fine with things as they are, but the guy keeps asking, and it's gotten really awkward for my husband to keep putting him off.
It seems unfair that my husband has to be in this awkward position when I'm the one with the issue. So, do I suck it up and see them, or is there a good way for him to tell them that I prefer not to join in?
Carolyn: "I would like to continue to be friends, but my wife prefers not to join in." No?
Anonymous: I can relate to this from the other side and completely agree with Carolyn. The husband of a friend of mine doesn't want to see me at all since something happened some time ago (details not relevant). My friend was very honest with me, and things are just fine. We simply meet without the husband, and there are no hard feelings other than the husband not wanting to talk to me.
Carolyn: Your friend did the right thing (yes, I completely agree with me, too), but I hope you realize you helped make this work by taking the bad news like a grownup and not making the truth-teller pay. Nicely done.
Anonymous 2: Why can't people understand that two people can be friends without including their spouses? I had a friend whose husband was so boorish that I ended our friendship when we couldn't get together without him.
Carolyn: Hmm. Maybe your friend did understand, but the boorish husband made it so unpleasant for her to remain your friend without him that she gave up.
Which possibly answers your question.
Anonymous 3: I took the truth-telling approach with a close friend who married a person with a lot of social problems (long list, all observed by multiple people). Since this talk, our friendship has been hollowed out. We rarely discuss the kind of important things we used to, and I feel like my friend has become very isolated. I am so sad about all of this.
Carolyn: Rightly so. It's a small consolation, I'm sure, but if this spouse's "social problems" are indeed shun-worthy, then your close friend is ultimately better off with that information.
Actually … if the problems aren't shun-worthy and the "multiple people" are just being snobs, then that's useful information of its own. Not that I think this is happening here. Just admiring the versatility of the "truth-telling approach."
Tomorrow: It remembers your birthday and shines your shoes.