Dear Debbie;

I am worried and anxious about my friend “Sue.” She lets her husband put her down and be sarcastic to her. I’ve seen him shove her around a few times. She makes excuses for him and says she’s bound by her marriage vows to put up with it. They go to marriage counseling at their church, but she is too scared to say how she feels for fear of him taking it out on her at home.

 I have tried to do interventions like I see on TV, like giving her hints about how she should leave him and even talking to him secretly about how he should change. She has family and friends who would help her in a minute. I just can’t change this situation, and it’s driving me crazy. What should I do?


 Friend Who Feels Like A Failure

Dear “Friend;”

I know it’s very hard to watch a loved one live that way. For her own reasons, she is not ready to leave. Leaving a marriage is a very hard decision and doesn’t always provide a permanent answer if the abused spouse doesn’t get professional help. You could be making it much worse for her at home by your attempts to counsel the husband on his behavior; he is likely to blame her for your actions.

Your only role here is as a supportive friend, not a counselor or decision maker. As much as we want to help, adults must make their own choices and reap their own consequences. He needs individual (NOT marital) counseling for anger management, and she needs support and a place to examine her decisions. These require licensed, skilled professionals.

Please consider talking to a professional yourself about your feelings if the worry is interrupting your enjoyment of life. You can learn to lovingly detach from the situation and live your own life.