Living Columns & Blogs

Carolyn Hax: She can’t remain neutral in friends’ divorce

DEAR CAROLYN: My husband and I were very close friends with another couple, “Bill” and “Sara,” and that couple’s marriage has dissolved spectacularly.

In the beginning, we attempted to stay neutral and support each party, but as time has passed and things have come to light, my husband and I have both gravitated to Bill’s side for various reasons. The problem is how to handle this with Sara, who is emotionally labile, and also coming to town for a work meeting in a few weeks with the expectation of meeting up with us. We don’t feel like it’s a great idea.

I think our friendship has run its course because of how their marriage ended and things that have happened in the aftermath, but I feel callous and judgmental in telling her that.

Any suggestions on what to say, and how to say it?

Navigating A Divorce Of Friends

DEAR NAVIGATING: Not to be a stickler or anything, but you’re already judgmental for what you’re thinking; it’s merely the telling that has you feeling callous.

Dropping her without explanation, though, is pretty callous, too.

So ask yourself whether you’re ready to say the following: “Sara, I know you want to get together when you’re in town. I’m really struggling, though, to understand blank,” with blank being the thing that forced you off the fence onto Bill’s side.

If you feel comfortable saying that – if you’ve already challenged yourself on your conclusions about Sara, and you’re confident you’re believing and doing the right thing – then you owe it to her to say as much. If instead there’s room for doubt, then you owe it to Sara to recognize your conclusions may be premature and to keep an open mind. That includes seeing her, and treating her as a friend, when she’s in town.

DEAR CAROLYN: Not long ago, my father gave me his will, naming me as his only beneficiary. I will get everything.

My older brother and younger sister, with whom I am close, will get nothing (we are all in our 30s). To say the least, my father and siblings are not close. My siblings have at times treated him horribly, and the reverse is true.

As the executor of his estate, do I divvy up things three ways so brother and sister are never the wiser? After all, I have to live with them the rest of my life.

Forever The Middle Child

DEAR CHILD: He wants the money to go to you, so it goes to you.

If you can and do follow through on your (good and generous) impulse to give a third each to your brother and sister, I can argue that’s still within the scope of your father’s wishes.

Then, that’s it – you’re free.