Friend Being Abused
Dear Annie: I have a friend, "Raphie," with a wife, "Diana," who has abused him physically and verbally over the years and is very controlling. Many times, I've witnessed dismissive and demeaning ways that Diana treats him.
I know he is not happy and never will be as long as he is married to her. Even if she were to consent to attend marriage counseling with him, I would guarantee that she would never be truthful to the therapist. I know he stays with her because her public image is stellar and he fears the stigma of divorce.
He and I have never discussed his situation between the two of us, but we have a mutual friend whom he confides in, and this friend has shared some things with me. I'm wondering how I can help Raphie. Any advice? -- Frustrated Friend
Dear Frustrated Friend: Your feelings are understandable. Few things are more frustrating than watching a loved one mistreated by his or her partner. Unfortunately, we can't "save" our friends, but we can support them. Reach out to have more one-on-one conversations with Raphie to see how he's doing. This will create a space for him to tell you about his marriage, if he so chooses. You can even try gently steering the conversation toward that topic -- but don't force it. Let him open up or not. Even if you and he aren't talking about the abuse, your presence in his life is important. It reminds him that he's not alone. For more guidance, you can visit thehotline.org or call 1-800-799-7233 to speak with a specialist trained in navigating dynamics around emotional and verbal abuse as well as physical abuse.
Dear Annie: Until the end of last summer, my wife and I had been married 58 years. I lost her very suddenly due to kidney failure. We had many years together of happiness, but I wish it could have continued. For many years, I would pick up after work on Fridays $5 worth of blooming flowers at the grocery store on the way home. They would last for a week, bring much happiness to our home and sure stop a lot of arguments about nothing. I have attempted to pass this on to my children and grandchildren, but none have taken me up on it so far. I guess it's just too old school. -- Still Missing Her
Dear Still Missing Her: I'm so sorry for your loss. Your letter hits on an important point: Little gestures can go a long way in creating a harmonious household. Everybody wants to feel appreciated. It's a shame that your kids and grandkids haven't followed your advice. Hopefully, someone reading this will.
Dear Annie: I am a cancer survivor of three years. I have a cousin who is a cancer survivor for 10 years. Recently, she was told her cancer has metastasized to her liver. It is stage 4. I have sent three private messages to family back East informing them about the situation.
Two of them sent short replies back, but the third said nothing.
I experienced the same thing concerning myself. I had a mastectomy and one year of cancer treatment. I sent private messages to several cousins and only one responded. It always surprises me when people do that. I think some people don't know what to say, so they say nothing. Personally, I would say something. It can be short but at least acknowledge that they heard me. Just wondered what your feelings are concerning this subject.-- Thanks for Listening
Dear Thanks: My feelings are the same as yours. When a friend is grieving, sick or dying, it's not about saying the right words. There are no right words. It's about acknowledging their pain -- and being ready to listen.
"Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie" is out now! Annie Lane's debut book -- featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette -- is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to firstname.lastname@example.org.