Couple Friendships

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My hubby and my friend's hubby just don't ''click''

Feb 2008

I am in a situation where I don't know what to do. One of my best friend's husband and my husband just don't click. There is not a dislike involved, they just don't have anything in common and when together don't seem to have a good time. I have been friends with this woman for several years and I feel like it is preventing our friendship from growing stronger since there really isn't any support from our husbands. Family and couple gettogethers just don't happen. With kids getting older and more involved it is becoming more difficult for me to see my friends durring the week so getting together as families is important. My friend and I have never discussed the situation (that would be so awkward) so it is almost like the elephant in the room for us. Her husband is a great guy, my husband is a great guy, they just don't seem to see that. Any advice on advancing this important friendship while respecting my husband's feelings? Thanks! Anon Please

I have the exact same problem, and the way that I have worked it out is to let go of the ideal notion that the two couples, or two families, will spend time together, and focus on finding time just for my friend and me to get together. She and I take walks on weekends and go out to dinner very occasionally. Don't try to force a friendship between your husbands -- sometimes people just don't click, and that's not anyone's fault. Realist
I think it's unrealistic to assume that your ''girlfriend'' friendship can automatically be a ''couples'' friendship just because that is most convenient. Accept that the primary friendship is between you and your girlfriend and figure out ways that you (and/or your kids) can spend time together without dragging your reluctant spouses. Honestly, I think you're heading down a dangerous path if you feel like you can't have a relationship with someone unless your husband does too--you don't want to lose your identity as an independent person, distinct from your spouse!
I think you're gonna have to talk about this, at least with your husband, and hopefully with your friend. I am in sort of the opposite situation. I have very little in common with my husband's best friend's wife. I know we're both great people, but we're miles apart in age, temperament, interests, etc. While I find evenings together to be just fine, I don't feel like there's a whole lot I can do to deepen things or really feel excited about our get togethers. My husband knows this, and while he wishes it were otherwise, he accepts it. I accept it too. We do have family get-togethers pretty regularly, but not all the time. My husband and his friend try to make time to get together w/out us--sometimes they take the kids on an outing, or they have lunch together. It makes things easier because there is less pressure for us to be an everybody's-happy-group. anon
My husband isn't very social and doesn't seem to click with my friends or their husbands, so I make time during the week and during the summer to have girl time. I can't force him to like someone, he is polite when they are around, but he wouldn't be sad if they moved to Alaska. girl time
If she's been your good friend for years and you are distressed enough about not seeing her to write to BPN asking for advice, then why can't you talk to her about it? Chances are she's thinking the same thing. You can't force your husbands to like one another, but you can take time for yourself and your personal friendships. Even meeting at her or your house (or going out) for a glass of wine and dessert every couple of weeks is probably something you can make happen if you really want to. anon
I am sorry to hear that your husband and your best friend's husband don't gel. However, it's not uncommon for a one partner to not get along with the friend or the friend's partner. Unfortunately, you cannot force this relationship. I assume that you have asked your husband if there is an issue with your friend's husband. I also assume that no issue exists with your friend or her partner, other than they just don't have anything ''in common.'' I suggest you talk to your best friend about the situation before it affects your relationship. You may need to consider get togethers that include just the two of you...this is not a bad thing as long as your husband supports it! Michael
Just because you and she are friends doesn't mean your husband and her husband have to be friends. Sounds like a great opportunity for you to get some alone time with someone you like to hang out with. Let go of the need for everyone to be able to get along - that's not the way life is. anon
This was my situation with my best friend and our husbands. In fact, they went several years without even meeting each other even though we lived nearby and my friend and I had been tight since 7th grade! They wrongly assumed they had nothing in common and had no interest in meeting. My husband was a law student, hers a yacht painter.

Finally, long after we had moved out of state, they came to visit us halfway across the country. These guys were thrown together, and ended up bonding in an amazing way. Her husband discovered mine wasn't the pansy ass he assumed he was and they realized they shared interests in popular science, carpentry, travel, comedy central, etc.

My friend and her husband actually ended up helping us move to CA from WI with her husband driving our rental truck the whole way! I know it doesn't always turn out this way, but my point is: they would have never found out how much they have in common and developed a mutual respect if they hadn't been thrown together for the sake of their wives' friendship. I think her husband agreed to their initial visit because I had put so much effort and time into helping them prepare for their at home wedding. They knew how much we meant to each other.

Is there something you would like to do with your girlfriend that would require the cooperation of your husband? Continue to cultivate your own friendship. What is that next step you're talking about? All you can do is keep offering them chances to get to know each other. Don't make it about them or put any pressure on them to become friends. It will happen or it won't. anonymous

Engaging in ''couples'' get togethers requires that it work for all of the people involved not just the husbands or the wives but the kids too. It is perfectly okay to have a wonderful friendship without the expectation that you can blend your families in social situations. Try planning ''girls nights out'' and leave your people at home! Can you imagine if your husband continually dragged your over to one of his friend's homes despite the fact that you didn't enjoy the other wife? Pure torture! Free time should be spent in ways that enhance your life not detract from it. Celebrate your friend but don't expect the spouses to join in! anon
My advice is for you to see your friend without your husband or hers. You don't even have to talk about it with her. Just say you want to get together without the men. My wife's friend's husband and I didn't click either. So they started seeing each other without us. Their schedules are busy too so they usually get together for lunch or coffee. Anon

Friend's hubby giving me *the eye*

May 2005

My friend of several years has a husband who, on a few occasions, at least when I've noticed, has given me *the eye*--you know, the one where a guy is clearly checking a woman out. This makes me uncomfortable, not in a creepy-gross-get-away-from-me kind of way, but in a I-don't-want-to-start-anything-with-you / you-shouldn't-be-doing-that-when-I'm-friends-with-your-wife kind of way. I'm not interested in being involved with him. That would be disastrous. He's friendly but not outwardly flirtatious or making any advances toward me or anything, and on my part, I'm friendly and polite but not too talkative with him, and sometimes when we're in a large group I tend to just keep my distance from him. I can't imagine that my friend hasn't noticed her husband doing this but she hasn't said anything about it to me. It would probably be better just to not see them but I'm in a situation in which it's hard to avoid my friend and her husband unless I make really drastic changes to my usual day-to-day routine, and I'm not sure if this situation warrants that.

I'm curious--is this just typical behavior for a man with a wife & kids (I'm also married with kids) and something I can just ignore, or should I continue making efforts to avoid him? Why do guys do this anyway? I'd appreciate hearing a point of view from you married dads out there.

Hi- Your description sounds harmless to me. If the husband in question has not done anything inappropriate (like touching you or making suggestive comments or something like that) then I don't think ''the eye'' by itself is inappropriate. I am a husband, very dedicated to my wife, family, life, very happy with the choices I've made in the last decade, not missing single life at all, and I sneak a look at darn near every woman I see. I look at all the body parts I did as a teenager. I don't want to have affairs with these women, or even flirt suggestively. I am just looking.

happily married/ain't nothin' but a man

I'm glad you are being faithful to your friend by not encouraging ''the eye''. Maybe your friend's husband is not happy or fulfilled in his marriage... Or maybe he's just being a dog... In any case, the apparently overt nature of his attention towards his wife's friend is definitely not cool in my book (I say this as a married man). And, apparently, he is choosing not to interpret your polite-but-distant attitude correctly.

So what to do? (a) Continue your approach and hope he tires and focuses elsewhere--hopefully towards what makes his current relationship possibly unhappy, or (b) Ask him directly (and privately) if he's flirting with you, and tell him that it makes you uncomfortable if he says yes. Of course he may deny it, which is fine, I suppose.

I guess my answer is that if he continues to make you (and maybe his wife, as you mentioned) uncomfortable, it would be worth going with the latter. It's even possible that you will do him a favor by relieving him of his fixation.

giving nobody the eye

I think it's natural and normal for men and women to feel attracted or even have ''crushes'' on friends partners, but I do not think it is normal, common or appropriate for said person to outwardly give signals, like making eyes, to the other person. My question would be...what's going on between this man and his wife? Is he doing this to anger her in some way? Is he naturally an oogler, does he do it to other women or just you? Next time, try to notice if his wife is noticing? Can you talk to your husband about it, or another friend who knows this man to get another take?
Good luck. anon
This happened to me with this guy whose wife worked with my husband. There were lots of occasions where we had to socialize and have dinner together along with other couples. Both the guy and his wife were very hands on - always the hugs and kisses. And the guy was ALWAYS commenting about my clothes, my hair, etc. you look great blah blah blah, looking me up and down. It was really sort of creepy. So ... it progressed from the eye, to accidentally on purpose footsey under the table, and finally one time a little squeeze of my thigh under the table. !!! It was a dinner party at a nice restaurant, and the boss and all the co-workers were there. I involuntarily said his name loudly in surprise, as you do when your child does something naughty. Everyone stopped talking and looked at him. He smiled this smile like what? I didn't do anything. I didn't say anything then, or anytime later, but he never bothered me again after that.
Still see him, but no more footsey

Couple friendships drifting away

July 2004

We have been close friends with another couple since meeting as neighbors nearly ten years ago. Back then we were all not yet married and didn't have kids, but had things in common like dual careers, pets and interests in casual trips together like skiing and camping. Over the years, we've been drifting away from our friends but I think that it's more a result of circumstance and not really by choice, although if I start to overanalyze it, I begin to feel paranoid that it's by (their) choice.

When their first child was born five years ago, they asked us to be the godparents -- in the guardianship sense (not religious) if anything were to happen to them. We were very touched and honored, and agreed without hesitation. Since then, we have had a child of our own (now 3) but didn't reciprocate on the guardianship front as we have close family nearby. Our godchild seems fond of us but not without issues similar to sibling rivalry with our child that are getting better as both kids grow older.

Since our godchild was born (and granted that we were later in getting onto the ''parent train'' than they were), the mother has bonded very closely with her mom's group, to the point where they now vacation pretty much exclusively with that group of families and no longer accept our invitations for trips out of town. We still see each other for dinners in town and at one another's houses, and we are still very fond of each other (as far as I can tell), but I was hurt to find out that we were not invited to our godchild's last birthday party. Is this something that I am overreacting to? We have never missed giving a birthday or holiday present to this child, whereas our own child didn't receive anything from the family last holiday season. I was fine with that, thinking of how over- consumerized our world is these days, but now I'm finding that this latest exclusion from the invite list is a little too much to bear. I argue with myself thinking that maybe at 5 years old kids are really adamant about who they want at their parties, and this child has a solid 6-8 peers from her mother's mom's group who are exactly the same age -- whereas my child lags behind by a couple of years. And, having hosted some birthday parties myself, I have struggled with the issue of inviting too many people, too -- but I have always included longstanding family friends (people we consider ''close like family,'') and that included this family.

Anyway, I realize that these friends are drifting away, and I'm not sure whether opening up a dialogue with them about it might help or hurt the relationship. On the surface, things seem fine -- but it's the lack of continued connection and inclusion into their community that makes me realize that they may even feel differently about having us as guardians now, though they may never feel comfortable discussing this with us. I am happy that our friends have a good set of friendships with these other families, and my family is not lacking for other friends with similarly-aged kids and interests. I guess I just have this bit of guilt or feeling that we ''should'' be closer if we're the guardians/godparents -- am I overthinking it? I think I need some advice on how to let this bit of guilt go, and accept how our lives and lifestyles have changed -- she is a stay-at-home mom as are many of her mom friends, while I continue to work full-time, and even our weekend activities/interests have diverged from the past. Maybe, as our kids grow older, we'll actually become closer when the difference in our kids' ages is less developmentally pronounced -- so should I wait it out and ''go with the flow'' for now? Should I lower my expectations (and lower my guilt about whether I'm ''doing'' or ''connecting'' enough as a godparent)? Or would a frank heart-to-heart with them about my hopes and fears for our friendship actually ''open the floodgates'' toward a closer, improved relationship? Any advice about letting go or actively opening up a dialogue over such a sensitive subject would be most welcome. Thanks for listening. Anonymous Please

I can really relate to your post! We've had a similar drifting relationship with our goddaughter's family too. We did ask them to be godparents to our (younger) child, but the relationship has still drifted. It used to bother me a lot, especially after their daughter started preschool and I kept hearing how great it was, how great the new friends were. At times it seemed I heard more about their time with other people than I could take. Indeed, sometimes after an evening together i'd come home with really hurt feelings.

Now that our child is in preschool too--a different one--and we are making friendships through the school, I feel like I have a group to mingle with in a way that I did not before. It feels less threatening to hear about their new friends ! when we have new friends too. And it's taken pressure off of our relationship. And maybe this is where I'm going for you. Can you find a way to take some pressure off of the friendship? Do you have places where you can make other relationships? When you feel more balanced within a larger community, you might be able to rekindle something with your old dear friends.

As for the kids, something that has helped us has been to occassionally ''trade'' kids for the afternoon. It has allowed us to develop relationships with our godkids independent of the relationship with each other. We've also sometimes just had our goddaughter over for a playdate without her parents, and let our son go for a playdate there without us. Despite the age differences, these have usually worked out great for us all.

If nothing else, you could just be honest with your friends and tell them that you miss them. it doesn't have to be a big long discussion about what went wrong or why you drifted--people do change and develop over time and friendships change--just a simple note of the affection you feel for them, pure and simple.

I hope you can find some balance with it. i know it's not easy, but if you can find a way to give yourself and the friendship space, I bet you'll find easier feelings. anon

Hello, I'd suggest simply letting the friendship drift. You may be hurt, but people's lives change as do friendships. Don't you have high school or college friendships that are still fond memories yet naturally faded from your life due to circumstance? I do, yet they are still warm and fond memories, a part of my PAST. Consider the possiblity that your friend HAS fou! nd families she feels more aligned with. It's possible that she HAS realized that you didn't have as much in common as others in her current circle. Maybe the new families she has met via her moms group have common parenting philosophies, like to do similar activities weekends, etc. Maybe the fathers of these families get along better. Maybe the children get along better because they are the same ages. Simply a better match, somehow, overall. It's ok, and maybe it's likely not as personal as you are taking it. Maybe your friend is just not very good at juggling old and new friendships simultaneously... People change and, friendships (that aren't meant to last a lifetime) change. Open a dialouge with your friend if that makes you feel better, and gives you a sense of closure. If she's still a friend, she'll listen. Good luck. Letting go is sometimes hard to do, but ok

Couples socializing: love him, hate her

Nov 2001

I'd like some impartial advice... My husband and I are friends with another couple we met through our church. We both think *he* is great. I think this friendship is very good for my shy husband. The problem is, *she* drives me nuts (and my husband doesn't think she's the greatest either, but he doesn't get stuck spending as much time with her as I do). I won't go into the reasons she bugs me; I'll just say that I feel pretty justifiably annoyed by her continuing thoughtless behavior (and she's so dense that I don't think she gets it, even though I've been trying to subtly push her away). How do you handle a situation like this? We're already taking the approach of encouraging my husband and the other husband to do a lot of guy stuff together (instead of all 4 of us getting together). But I still have a lot of contact with her--way more than I would like. I'm afraid that if I preemptively try to talk to her about the way I feel (when I can try to be diplomatic and sensitive) that I'll just screw everything up and end our husbands' friendship. On the other hand, I'm afraid that if things continue, I'm just going to lose it someday and rip her head off. Any advice on what I should do, and what, if anything, I should say?

Having been in a very similar social situation myself, so similar that I could have been the author about 6 years ago, I can only tell you that for your husband's sake, it really is best to suck up your feelings about the woman of the couple. Don't confront her about whatever behavior is driving you crazy; you already said she's a bit dense, so she's just going to think you're a bitch and you *will* ruin your husbands' friendship. Nobody's forcing you two to be best friends. Yes, you will have to socialize occasionally. Make an effort to see what makes her tick; this can help you understand how to handle her. Remember that it may not be often that your husband gets an opportunity to have a great friendship. In my situation, my husband is still great friends with the man and over the years I have come to a point where I can tolerate the wife. Yes, she can still drive me crazy. But this was such a tangible way for me to show love to my husband that it was worth the effort. Anonymous
Hiding your feelings isn't going to help. I would tell her what she is doing that bothers you, what she can do to help fix the problem, and if she wants to be your friend, she can fix it. If not, it's her problem. R.
I had a similar experience. The problem in my case was that I was getting a lot of unsolicited advice, delivered in a relentless sort of way, from someone whose experience and outlook I otherwise appreciated. So, unlike you, I valued the friendship and wanted to make it work. Like you, however, the major reasons for nurturing the friendship had to do with my family as a whole: the guy and my husband got along well, they live right down the street, our kids are similar ages... The woman in question was a therapist, so I thought she would be open to listening to my concerns and suggestions, if delivered in a non-confrontive, don't-take-this-personally sort of way. However, I was wrong. She took what I said personally, and was very hurt. Her husband, too, ended up being offended and our relationship has never been the same. I now wish I had found ways to incidentally respond to specific statements she made as they occurred, rather than let it go for too long, then make a sort of speech, however carefully worded, out of saying my piece. That would have been harder on me, though: she truly was wearning me out, and I don't know whether I could have pulled off a more subtle, yet consistent approach of gentle, specific, confrontation (perhaps the end result would have been the same, if only because I would have wearied of the effort required). If you can pull it off, though, I think chances of success are greater if you respond to specific instances as they occur, rather than to the entire way a person approaches you. Good luck. Been There, with Regrets
OK, I have been in this situation. I am married to the most easy-going guy who ever lived. He gets along with everyone and everyone loves him. All the people he's ever met are close friends that he wants to see often. I, on the other hand, am difficult and opinionated and once you get to know me, I am hard to be around. There are only about 3 people who can get along with me, and they do not happen to be partnered up with friends of my husband. We both like to socialize a fair amount, so this problem comes up a lot and I have been on both sides -- taking it as well as dishing it out, I'm sorry to say.

First of all, whatever you do, do not say anything to this other woman about your not getting along with her. It will not solve any problems. Rather it will create new problems. If you can, also try to soft pedal on complaints about her to your husband. It puts him between a rock and a hard place - he wants to please you, but he wants to socialize too, so what can he do? I have two suggestions that work for me: 1) do things together in bigger groups than the 4 of you. 2) do things in smaller groups than the 4 of you. The dynamics of four are very bad for you - you always get stuck with the woman while your husband is developing a friendship with the guy.

Number one, bigger groups: see if you can find another few people to include when you have them over, or go out, or whatever. Be careful to not exclude or gang up on the woman (she may be annoying to others too, not just you). With more than 4 in the group, the assignment of interacting with her does not fall solely on your head, and you may even find that you don't mind being around her when it's in a bigger group. Number two, smaller groups: Your husband can take the kid(s) over for a visit without taking you - you might have some deadline at work, or a pre-existing plan to get together with your sister, or the urgent need to do several loads of laundry. Sometimes the wife of my husband's best friend doesn't come over because it is that time of the month and she is having a really bad day and would just like to lie down for a couple of hours. (The men fall for this even if the women don't.) This is perfectly fine with me, because I'd rather she didn't come over too. I try to reciprocate by having urgent business that coincides with get-togethers at their house. Over time, this has blossomed into a pattern of her husband bringing their daughter over and just hanging out, and my husband visiting them without me. We do all see each other at larger unavoidable get-togethers such as kids' birthday parties. At these times we are perfectly nice to each other and no one would ever guess we can't stand each other.

So, yes it is possible to have a relationship with this couple. You just need to be a little creative. G.

Continue encouraging your husband's friendship with the other husband. There's nothing that says you have to be friends with her. Don't accept couple invitations.

If the suggestion comes up to make it a 4-some instead of a 2-some, have a ready alibi so you can gracefully decline, or just tell them you think your husband needs a little male-bonding time and you have too much to do. If the wife continues to pester you to do things with her, you will need to let her know you already have too many other commitments to deal with. Your husband can help you as well, if the subject comes up while he's out with the other guy. Sometimes it's easier if she hears it through her own husband that you're busy.

I think you can do this without hurting her feelings if she is as dense as you say. I work with people like that and it's practically impossible to hurt their feelings. They just don't get it. M.