You love your wife — flaws and all. But sometimes, the flaws are far easier to deal with than that one, insanely annoying friend that she insists on keeping in her life. And yours. Sounds familiar?
Before you agree to spend the rest of your life with someone, there are many things that you should discuss. Finances, family planning, and future goals are all no-brainers. But what about accepting your partner’s friends?
You can’t tell your partner who they can and can’t be friends with, but the people they associate with do impact your life. This makes figuring out how to best deal with personality conflicts between you and the people your partner is close to a crucial, and often overlooked, step for a harmonious relationship.
So what should you do if you really, really can’t stand your wife’s friend(s)? Check out these three steps for some guidance on accepting your partner’s friends.
Step One – Weird, Annoying, Or Toxic?
Before you actually do anything, you need to figure out what it is that really bothers you so much about the offensive friend. Is it just a personality clash or do you really feel that she’s a bad influence?
Figuring this out means that you will need to make sure you take some notes. It may seem like a strange thing to do, but actual written notes are more accurate and reliable than mental notes.
And if you’ve gotten to the point where you feel something needs to be done, having specific examples to discuss is helpful and important. It will also allow you to reflect on what it is that you’re seeing and feeling, whether there are valid concerns, and what you think needs to happen.
You may also need to consider whether your issues have more to do with you than with her. Are you possibly jealous of the time that your wife spends with this friend, or the amount of fun they have together? This doesn’t mean there’s not a problem and it doesn’t need to be discussed, but understanding this will make it a very different kind of conversation.
Step Two – What Do You Want To Do?
Annoying people exist everywhere.
If your wife’s friend is just a really annoying person, she may just be someone you need to put up with. A whiny voice or obsession with cat videos can be irritating. However, if she’s your wife’s BFF, then you may want to find reasons to be somewhere else when she’s around.
But if your wife is friends with someone who’s toxic or somehow detrimental to your wife or your relationship, that’s a different story.
Once you have taken the time to observe and reflect, it’s time to decide what you want to do and why. If this friend you can’t stand is taking advantage of your wife, a narcissist or enticing her into making poor decisions or behaving in unhealthy or irresponsible ways, then you will need to plan for a conversation.
Friendships come in all shapes and sizes.
Unfortunately, however, they can sometimes be very unbalanced. Friends who bring drama or need to be rescued all the time can drain a person and that person’s other relationships. If this is the case, your wife may feel responsible to help her or feel guilty if she doesn’t.
It’s possible that she needs help from you to see things from a larger perspective. To understand that what she’s doing is enabling bad behavior and not actually being a good, helpful friend.
If, however, this person that appeals to your wife’s wild side (or irresponsible side), and things like girls’ nights are becoming more and more dangerous – to her or your relationship – she may not be aware of how her behavior is affecting you, your family, and potentially, even her.
In this case, your wife will need to examine her own behavior and the reasons she continues to participate. Word to the wise — people don’t love to admit they need to change or that they’re doing anything wrong.
Step Three – Talking To Your Wife
Once you are certain that a conversation is the appropriate next step, you’ll need to make sure you approach things the right way. Saying, “I hate Jane and you need to stop hanging out with her,” or “It’s her or me babe — you choose” are examples of what NOT to do.
You’ll need to be mindful of the importance of friendships and accepting partner’s friends. And that trying to influence her friend choices may seem controlling and not be well-received. Choosing the right time, approaching it with understanding and kindness, and having some real, impartial examples of your concerns are all crucial.
Bear in mind that there may be no resolution to this situation right away. These relationships can be complicated for many reasons. But if you really feel there’s a reason to be concerned and your wife’s annoying friend is potentially worse than simply annoying, continue to have gentle conversations when appropriate. Her respect for you and your relationship will likely mean she’s taking things to heart more than you realize.
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Author: Dr. Kurt Smith
Dr. Kurt Smith is the Clinical Director of Guy Stuff Counseling & Coaching, a Northern California counseling practice that specializes in helping men and the women who love them. His expertise is in understanding men, their partners, and the unique relationship challenges couples face today. Dr. Kurt is a lover of dogs, sarcasm, everything outdoors, and helping those seeking to make their relationships better.