Maybe they’ve said some things that don’t sit well with you. Maybe they tend to bring out a quality in your partner that you just don’t like. Whatever it is, one of your wife’s friends just happens to rub you the wrong way and you want to bring it up. Well, before you do, there are a few things to keep in mind.
Deciding to bring up “that friend” to your wife — the one who, say, ignores you, is mean to you, or does what you perceive to be weird and shady things — is no easy decision. For one, you just might be misreading the situation. For another, your wife might feel offended and such conversations are never easy. This is to say that, there are some things to ask yourself before you even bring it up as well as things to do in the moment that will make the interaction much easier. Because saying “Hey, I hate your friend Susan” is never a good start.
Recognize When Behaviors Are Actually Weird — And Not Just Annoying.
It might not be great that the friend constantly talks about what’s happening on Kylie Jenner’s instagram account, but that’s not a reason to have this talk. In other words, it’s important to figure out what’s irritating versus what’s genuinely concerning. What falls into the latter? “If a husband perceives that something that the friend says is offensive to him, to his wife, or anyone else, or if the friend acts uncomfortable in the husband’s presence, is standoffish, or shows signs of dislike or distrust,” says licensed marriage and family therapist Weena Cullins.
Make Sure There’s A Pattern of Inappropriate Behavior.
“There’s a delicate balance between wanting to share your concerns at the first time of discomfort and waiting to make sure that it’s not a misconception about the friend’s behavior,” says Cullins. One good way to be certain that a friend’s behavior is not okay is to simply take notes. “Just keep mental, or actual physical notes of what’s happening, and what’s making you uncomfortable,” she says. “You need to remember what made you feel so uncomfortable, and you need to think about it in a way that feels concrete.” Otherwise, it’s easy to sound paranoid or biased.
Don’t Wait Too Long to Bring up the Problem.
Although husbands shouldn’t rush to accuse a friend of wayward intentions, waiting too long to talk about the problem, and racking up infinite instances where they were made to feel uncomfortable, could be a real issue. Bottling up feelings is never a good idea. “You should bring it up before it becomes such a big issue for you that you can’t discuss it with an even temper,” says Cullins. “Don’t wait until there are so many instances that by the time you talk to your wife about it, you’re literally flooding her with information.” Such an info-dump is going to make it very difficult for a partner to receive it all. Per Cullins, this tactic will always result in the question, ‘Why is this the first time I’m hearing about this?’”
Don’t Bring Up Concerns During an Argument.
Two pieces of advice: Never eat fried dough before riding something called “the scrambler” and never, ever bring pent-up, off-topic points into a marital argument. One, the point can just become one part of several in the argument and be dismissed. More importantly, however, it will likely be perceived as a weapon in the conversation, rather than a legitimate concern. The best bet: Bring it up at a time when both parties are cool-headed, and maybe enjoying time together, rather than fighting.
Use “I” Statements.
Words matter during arguments. So it’s always a good idea for anyone bringing up such a topic to keep the conversation about themselves, and about their feelings because chances are their wife isn’t feeling the same way — at least not yet. “Say: ‘I felt uncomfortable when your friends said this,’” or, “Or, ‘it makes me feel concerned when your friends want to do that,’” says Cullins. In other words, it’s not right to assume how a partner feels about these things. They need time to work it out.
Accept That Your Concerns Might Not Be Taken Well
Even if someone does everything right when they bring up that one friend, the conversation may not go well. When addressing, it’s essential for people to give their partners time to process this information.“Your partner is just thinking of this for the first time,” says Cullins. “If she does get defensive, don’t worry. Let them have a minutes to process it and even think about coming back to the discussion a couple days, or weeks, later so that they can go through their emotions that naturally come from having to have a hard conversation.” During this time, they might ask their friend to change their behavior or they might have a conversation about dialing down their relationship with their friend. In any case, it’s important to give partners time to think about the situation and let them think about how she will manage the issue.
Know When To Escalate The Problem, and Seek Outside Help
The worst thing a partner can do is dismiss the other’s feelings. “If you bring it up to your partner and they minimize your feelings or dismiss them in ways that make you feel unheard, you have to take the concerns up a level without making your partner feel ambushed.” In other words, if a partner won’t listen, they need to know how serious the problem. At such an impasse, Cullins suggests people speak to a third party about the problem, be it a confidant or a therapist. “That raises the level of concern with the partner to help them see that the issue is not going to be swept under the rug.”