Controlled friend is cause for worry
I am concerned about one of my friends, “Amanda.” She and I are both middle-aged housewives with only part-time jobs. Amanda comes from a much more repressed background than I do. She was raised to believe that wives should be submissive. Amanda has complained about her controlling husband. She told me he checks her phone and email all the time. However, she has such an upbeat, happy disposition, I thought she was exaggerating. About a month ago, she told me that since she’s gotten to know me, she’s had the courage to speak up to her husband about some things for the very first time, and it has led to some positive changes in their marriage.
The next week, Amanda’s husband just showed up with her at our lunch. I welcomed meeting him because I knew he could see that I’m a straight woman who poses no threat.
Since then, however, he has come with her every week. He owns his own business, so he must have rearranged his whole schedule! He sits with us but doesn’t say much. Of course, my conversation with Amanda is quite different with him there. This whole thing seems weird. Do you have any suggestions?
Though you might be limited in what you can say to Amanda, your mere presence speaks volumes. It tells her she’s not alone — that someone cares. To someone in an abusive relationship, that’s an invaluable message. And that’s why the best thing you can do for Amanda right now is to continue attending these lunches and pretending her husband’s presence is welcome. Any perceived rejection of him would be used to separate you from her. Call The National Domestic Violence Hotline (800-799-7233) for more guidance.
I certainly sympathize with “Concerned Legionnaire’s Wife.” Many years ago, I attempted to sign up for an American Legion post but was told by a misinformed individual that women could not join the organization. Rather than judge the entire organization by the erroneous view of one individual, I found another American Legion post. Today I am the national commander of The American Legion, and that original post displays my official photograph with the words, “She could have belonged to this post. Remember, women are veterans too!”
Though I cannot speak about the specific allegations that “Concerned Legionnaire’s Wife” mentioned, I would like to encourage her to report any malfeasance to her state’s American Legion headquarters. Created in 1919 by a group of World War I veterans, The American Legion was founded on the pillars of veterans care, a strong national defense, Americanism and patriotic youth programs. It is an organization that America can be most proud of. For God and Country...
The behavior “Concerned Legionnaire’s Wife” described might have taken place at an American Legion post, but it had nothing to do with The American Legion — a point your thoughtful letter hammers home. Thank you for all that you and the organization have done.