Child­less cou­ple vows to end friend­ship over kids

The Observer (Sarnia) - - LIFE - AMY DICK­IN­SON Email: askamy@tri­bune.com Twit­ter: @ask­ingamy

Dear Amy: My hus­band and I are in our late 20s. We are close friends with a mar­ried cou­ple who are about 10 years older than we are. They strug­gled with in­fer­til­ity for years. They pre­tend they’re OK with their sit­u­a­tion, but clearly they aren’t.

Any­time a child is around, the woman gets very emo­tional. She starts out act­ing ex­cited to in­ter­act with a child, then pro­gresses to say­ing she doesn’t know how to in­ter­act with the child be­cause she doesn’t have any, and then she says be­ing with chil­dren makes her sad.

They say: “We won’t be friends with you once you have kids.” We can’t tell if that’s a joke. They cur­rently have no friends their age with kids, and have talked about peo­ple that used to be their friends, “be­fore they had kids.”

I un­der­stand how devastating it must be for them; but the emo­tional roller­coaster with ev­ery child in­ter­ac­tion is drain­ing, es­pe­cially as many of our friends are start­ing fam­i­lies (or plan­ning to).

They chose not to adopt, foster, or go through IVF, which is their choice and all 100 per cent ac­cept­able. But it’s hurt­ful to hear them say that our friend­ship is lim­ited, and we are scared to tell them when (or if ) we con­ceive for fear of their re­ac­tion.

How can we tell them that while we rec­og­nize they have gone through a very painful ex­pe­ri­ence, they are hurt­ing oth­ers with their plans to dump us if we have chil­dren?

— FRIENDS UN­TIL KIDS

Dear Friends: I’m going to try to draw a par­al­lel. Many of my co­horts still have their par­ents (mine are gone now). This can make me feel both sad and jeal­ous. But do I want my friends to share my or­phaned state in or­der to re­lieve my own sad­ness? No. Do I sever the friend­ship be­cause they are busy tak­ing care of their el­derly par­ents? No. A ma­ture adult learns to process sad­ness and tol­er­ate dis­com­fort, and not pun­ish oth­ers for it.

If this cou­ple wanted to, they could eas­ily find ful­fill­ing ways to have chil­dren in their lives, in­clud­ing de­vel­op­ing im­por­tant re­la­tion­ships with their friends’ chil­dren. But they don’t want this, prob­a­bly for very com­pli­cated rea­sons.

I hope you will be hon­est in your re­ac­tion: “When you joke about or threaten our friend­ship over the is­sue of hav­ing kids, I don’t know how to re­act. What are you re­ally try­ing to say?”

Dear Amy: My hus­band and I both had pre­vi­ous mar­riages (we met after our di­vorces).

When he di­vorced (after 32 years of mar­riage), he told his fam­ily that he did not ex­pect them to cut off con­tact or dis­own his ex.

We have now been mar­ried for al­most 24 years, and my hus­band’s sis­ter still in­vites his ex to ev­ery fam­ily func­tion.

At one event, my hus­band and I were sit­ting on the couch when his ex-wife walked by and his sis­ter said, “Oh, I need a pic­ture of you with (her son).”

She didn’t take pho­tos of her son with his un­cle (my hus­band). She al­ways gushes over the ex at ev­ery turn, while hardly ac­knowl­edg­ing my hus­band or my­self.

What do you think of a sis­ter con­tin­u­ing to in­vite her brother’s ex-wife to ev­ery fam­ily func­tion, 23 years later? She in­vited her to their mother’s 90th birth­day party, which I can un­der­stand, but this woman didn’t just show up and pay her re­spects — she stayed all evening, and other guests asked us why. — SLOPPY SEC­OND

Dear Sec­ond: It seems that your hus­band’s sis­ter prefers his ex to you (and per­haps your hus­band), and she is con­vey­ing this, not just through these in­vi­ta­tions, but through her be­hav­iour to­ward you.

You can­not con­trol her in­vi­ta­tion list, but your hus­band should hon­estly tell her how you two feel about her so­cial slights when you are all to­gether.

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