Dear Amy: My husband and I are retired. We have a good life in a city that we moved to about seven years ago.
We’ve been able to make lots of new friends. I'm so pleased by the variety of people in our friend group.
What I'm not pleased about is that one of my dearest women friends, “Meg,” has a husband, “Mike,” who seems to insert himself into all kinds of situations where I would prefer that he not be.
Mike spends more time on Facebook than Meg does, and he seems to be “friends” with everybody in our social circle, which is pretty large.
The problem is that this guy has no filters at all. He comments on absolutely everything, is often loud and inappropriate, and is sometimes vulgar.
I think he thrives on being the center of attention.
I really don't believe there is a mean bone in his body, but there are days when just seeing his name on Facebook makes me want to shut my phone off.
Meg and I are close enough that we have talked a lot about our marriages, and we both agree that our spouses have their good and their bad points. She knows that Mike can be a nuisance.
There is at least one other woman in our social community who had similar feelings about Mike. She told Meg how she felt, and I'm pretty certain it has damaged their own long-term relationship.
Do you have any advice for me?
I just don't know if I have the patience to put up with Mike for the long run.
– Frustrated Friend
Dear Frustrated: Based on how you describe this, it seems that your connection with “Mike” on social media is a regular trigger for you. So, turn off his microphone! If you aren’t exposed to his constant comments and obnoxious behavior on Facebook, you will be able to put Mike on a shelf until you are forced into his actual company again.
Mike is his own man. His wife “Meg” is not in charge of him, and so why did your other mutual friend report her feelings about the man to Meg, instead of responding to him directly? Don’t make the same mistake.
The unspoken rule about marriage is: “I can criticize my spouse, but if you do, I’ll be forced to defend.”
Meg knows her husband is obnoxious and vulgar. He’s the bull in her china shop.
Respond to Mike when you’re in his presence, but continue to develop your friendship with Meg in his absence.
Dear Amy: I’d like to pass along some recommendations for people who are ill and burdened by the well-meaning but often clunky reactions from other people.
When my husband was diagnosed with Stage IV prostate cancer seven years ago, he wanted some control of normalcy in his life.
He created a number of boundaries so he could live his life as fully as possible in a normal way:
One: You can ask me about my cancer on Monday, and only Monday.
Two: At home we had rooms designated as “cancer talk-free zones.”
Three: For the well-meaning people with so many solutions pushing herbal remedies, we said that we had found out (which we had) that the interactions of herbs, etc., could affect his medical care, so thanks, but we can’t use all ideas.
It took a while, but conversations from well-intentioned people settled back to “normal,” except on Mondays, when my husband was prepared to face dialogues.
Dear Maureen: These recommendations are so smart!
Every person facing serious illness and extended treatment deserves a safe space where they can be who they want to be – and how they want to be.
Your husband was proactive in creating boundaries for himself, but boundaries can also be created and maintained by caregivers.
I’m sure these guidelines will be adopted by many people. Thank you so much for passing them along.
Dear Amy: I appreciate the advice you gave to “Curious,” the woman who described her “situationship” with a man who jerked her around, and then wanted to seek counseling with her – once she had broken up with him.
Thank you for offering the kind of advice I want to be given.
She needs to get out. Love your wisdom!
– Big Fan
Dear Fan: Oftentimes, people say they like my work when I offer advice they would also give.
You say I offer advice you’d like to receive. I appreciate the distinction, and thank you very much.
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