EntornoInteligente | Carolyn Hax: Misguided advice for someone going through divorce - EntornoInteligente

EntornoInteligente | Carolyn Hax: Misguided advice for someone going through divorce

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If it helps, it doesn’t sound as if you were wrong to say what you did. I realize I have very little information, but what I take away is 1. You saw a child being mistreated and you stood up for him or her. That was brave. And, 2. Given two demonstrations of bad behavior that are apparently out of character for her (yes?), it sounds at least possible that your friend is exhibiting a personality change, which in turn could indicate illness

Adapted from an online discussion .

Hi, Carolyn: My first cousin “Mimi” divorced her husband last year. As a divorcée myself, who hated to see a loved one go through hell unnecessarily, I reached out to her before the divorce was finalized to provide the names of marriage counselors and a few words of encouragement about trying to repair the marriage.

Where I was coming from was, my marriage wasn’t great but I think we could have worked on it, and I live with regret that I chose instead to return to single life in my late 40s. I think I was lazy. I was not implying that Mimi was being lazy, but that may have been the message that came across anyway.

What I have since learned is that Mimi‘s divorce was her answer to several years of emotional abuse, which she is just starting to talk about with our family. I feel awful for inadvertently suggesting that she stay married to an abuser. I stepped in where I shouldn’t have. Should I apologize, or just mind my own business from now on? She hasn’t shared the news of the abuse with me personally.

Stepped In

Stepped In: If there’s a non-awkward way to tell Mimi, without any mention of knowing what you know, that you’ve replayed your conversation with her a lot in the past year and you regret seeing her situation through your own lens, then you should do it.

But not if you’re doing it just because you now know about the emotional abuse. Even if her divorce were an amicable one by two healthy people who grew apart, your “few words of encouragement about trying to repair the marriage” would still have been presumptuous. Even if you think your experience allows you insight that a specific person might be able to use, you still need to be mindful of what you don’t know about the other person’s situation, which means prefacing any advice (from now on) with a faithfully kept promise that you won’t give any unless asked.

Dear Carolyn: I told my friend she sometimes spoke rather harshly to her grandchild. She had just told me of an exchange between the two of them, and I gave her my opinion.

Now she says our friendship of 50-plus years is over. I have reached out since then and she has not responded. What to do?

Anonymous

Anonymous: You grieve. It is like a death.

Not just because it’s a significant loss, but also because it’s one handed to you and that you aren’t able to fix.

If it helps, it doesn’t sound as if you were wrong to say what you did. I realize I have very little information, but what I take away is 1. You saw a child being mistreated and you stood up for him or her. That was brave. And, 2. Given two demonstrations of bad behavior that are apparently out of character for her (yes?), it sounds at least possible that your friend is exhibiting a personality change, which in turn could indicate illness.

I hope that’s not the case, of course, but if it is, then I hope someone is as brave as you were and risks her wrath in order to nudge her to get help. I’m sorry.

Write to Carolyn Hax at [email protected] . Get her column delivered to your inbox each morning at wapo.st/haxpost .

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