Dear Mary Pat,
Friends of mine separated last year after 18 years of marriage. I was so surprised when I found out and really sad for them both. I have known “Joe” for years and only met “Jane” at their wedding, but I’m fairly close to both of them now. I told them both from the beginning that they should try and work it out. I deliberately didn’t take sides or offer my opinion. When Joe and I went out for dinner a couple of weeks ago with a couple of our guy friends, I just listened. The only thing I did say was that it must be confusing for both of them since they are still living in the same house and have been legally separated for over a year. That is a true statement and not a criticism of either of them. Then last week I get a text from Jane saying that Joe told her that I said it was really time for them to finalize the divorce and that she would appreciate it if I would not interfere. I texted right back and said that I never said that. I don’t think she believes me and I’m really irritated that I got thrown under the bus here. I tried to stay neutral and was hoping that they would work it out. I didn’t call Joe right away since I was afraid my temper would be doing the talking and now I’m not sure what I should say. Any advice?
Mum’s The Word
Fish Creek, Wis.
Dear Mum’s The Word,
Your instinct to stay out of it was correct. Getting in between any argument, especially a couple splitting, can’t lead to anything good. Who knows if Joe threw you under the bus intentionally or if he was looking to bolster his case (i.e., “even Bob said it’s time to divorce”)? Or maybe Jane misunderstood what Joe said? Chances are good you’ll never know for sure and it really doesn’t even matter. Your name shouldn’t have come up in the discussion in the first place and it wasn’t fair to drag you into it. You aren’t a factor in whether they should stay together or not, so hopefully they will remember that the next time they contemplate their future.
As far as calling Joe, perhaps it is best to let this situation cool and keep your distance for a bit. If Joe calls you and brings any of the he said/she said/you said up, you can calmly tell him that their relationship is between them and them alone. If Joe needs to discuss this with someone, he should consider talking to a marriage counselor, pastor, rabbi or priest.