I CONFESS: Friend’s drama almost cost me my marriage
AS A WOMAN, it is always sensible to have a good or a few for that matter, close friends who are also of the same sex. There are things which women can share with each other that sometimes it is hard to share with a man, barring sometimes your spouse. I have found over the years that I have been able to confide in a few of my girlfriends as they have in me, so on those occasions when things haven’t gone as I would like, or the reverse for them, we have an ear to speak to which will listen.
However, I have also found that while compassion can be a wonderful trait, it can also be a dangerously sharp two-sided razor-blade. That sympathy and warmth you display can sometimes cause you to take on much more than you had planned to or should. I have had an experience which showed me that danger and by the time I had an understanding of what was happening it was far too late.
My journey with a now former very close friend, who remains an acquaintance today, started all because of what I saw as the hardship and pain she was enduring as her marriage came to a crashing end. She and her husband had been in what I believed to be a happy and loving relationship. They started with little or nothing and by sheer commitment, hard work and sacrifice were able to accumulate some material wealth. They had three lovely children and everything seemed to have been going well.
So when my former bosom buddy told me her marriage was ending, I took it almost as hard as she did. On reflection, I stepped into her shoes and became angry, as things weren’t supposed to end this way. The relationship was supposed to have gotten stronger and last forever, until death separated them. I had to reach out to help my very close friend, especially since she seemed to be getting the raw deal in this break-up, based on what she told me.
I got my friend’s side of the story, and I immediately gave her total support. I told my own husband what was going on and became very critical of my friend’s husband. I described him in the worst ways and found fault with everything he said or did. I even stopped speaking to him, even though he never stopped speaking to me, waving from the distance, honking his horn when we passed in opposite directions. He tried to be polite and continued as before. I became an enemy. Whenever my girlfriend and I spoke, I took pleasure in pinpointing all her husband’s weaknesses and low points. He was a scoundrel and I perhaps expressed my feelings in stronger terms than she did. I did more than simply commiserate with her. I acted as if I had personally been affected.
When I reflect on that period, I belive in some ways I felt insecure. My own relationship had been through some turbulent times, as my husband had had an affair and we had to work really hard to save the marriage. I believed that he had changed for the better based on his behaviour, but my friend’s plight simply seemed to reopen old wounds for me. I saw all men as dirty dogs trying to exploit women. My conversations became negative, driven by complaints and all leading down one hopeless road. I was driving my friend to do all the things I felt I should have done when my husband strayed. I was bitter.
I realised that my best friend was having to get along on her own and seemed to be enjoying a new found freedom. She would indicate that she was not cooking a particular weekend, or had cooked for two days but bought something to eat and it had been less stressful. She did not have to go home to clean like before as she occupied the ground floor and the husband the upstairs in the self contained sections of their property. It seemed as if she was enjoying a much cherished freedom, and it became contagious. I felt too constrained.
Suddenly, I started to quarrel with my husband, questioning why he was coming home late, asking who that was who blew their horn when we were coming from church, or why he was going by his mother twice a week since his sister was also visiting her during the week. I became angry and suspicious at any and everything.
The situation took a turn for the worse when one evening I told my husband after he returned from work that I had called for him and did not get him and that I went by his workplace and did not see his car. I bolted out that he had a woman and should move out right away with her. I took out his clothes and placed them in two large garbage bags. He protested my actions and comments, bathed and went into his bed.
I looked at him in the bed as he slept, and I got angry. Then it came to mind that a guilty man would hardly take this course especially if he felt he could be harmed. He slept like a baby and I had the opportunity to reflect on all the good reasons why we were still together. I never said anything further about the drama of that Friday evening.
Two weeks later I got to find out where my husband was when I went checking on him as my daughter, who lives on her own, told me of the help her daddy had to give after her car stopped and refused to move. He had come to her rescue. I felt humiliated. But the situation became more depressing when my friend told me that she and her husband were “making amends and being lovers, husband and wife, and best friends again”. Moreover, she indicated that she had learnt many lessons from the exercise and one was to keep people out of her business. She condemned me for some of the things I had said about her husband.
I had taken on her problems and brought them into my house. Her pending divorce became my fear and problem. I seemed to think the same thing would happen to me; the scenarios started to apply to me. I was wrong and almost broke up my family. Friends are important and necessary, but they should not become your biggest nightmare.