Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Dear Abby may have got it wrong

Recently, a Dear Abby column had me steaming. A reader wrote in that her best friend “Heather” wanted another child, but her husband did not. The two of them had been arguing about this. Heather had said she was going to stop using birth control without telling her husband. The friend wanted to know what her responsibilities were now that she has this information.

PAUSE – Think of how you would answer this question while humming Jeopardy music.

Okay – we’re back. Got your answer? Well, here’s Dear Abby’s answer: Tell Heather what she is doing is a bad, bad, bad idea, but if that doesn’t work – tell the husband.

Tell the husband? Wha-Wha-What? Really? Interfering in someone else’s marriage is the way to go here? Creating a triangle of distrust? Yep, that sounds like a great idea!

1. Who knows if Heather was serious? We all say things in the confidence of best friends that we may mean at the time, but don’t actually follow through on. “If that happens one more time, I am quitting my job.” “I am sending my children to a work camp in Siberia.” You know things like that.

2. It’s none-yer-business! The friend’s job is to BE A FRIEND! We have all done things our friends have disapproved of. Some friends has been successful at talking us out of it, some have not. Either way, disrupting a marriage is not the way to go.

I have tried to see this from the husband’s perspective. Would I want to know? Would I be angry if I later found out the friend knew and didn’t tell me? I really don’t think I would want to know. The only thing I can see happening out of this is that the friend tells the husband. Heather denies it. The friendship is over and the fighting in the marriage just gets worse.

Now, the friend should consider if she wants to be friends with someone who would engage in this type of behavior, but that’s a different post.

What do you think? Should the friend tell the husband? If you were the husband, would you want to know? Have you ever been in a situation where a friend confided uncomfortable news? What did you do?


  1. First of all, hooray that Ask Angie is back! I would definitely NOT tell the husband--you are right that it's not a friend's place to step in there. The only time I would intervene and break my friend's confidence would be if there was a life-or-death risk situation going on (like she has a substance abuse problem and has been driving under the influence) or in the case of child abuse or neglect.

    I'm not sure what Abby's reasoning was on this one, but maybe she was thinking about the welfare of the potential innocent third party--the kid that might be born to a father that might not want it? In any case that is waaay too hypothetical to warrant butting in. I agree that all one can do is talk to the friend.

  2. I agree, because you are the best kind of friend - one that looks solely at the friend and focuses on her situation. You can only support that friend and try to delve into why she wants to make the choice she does. Perhaps she'll gain some greater understanding and make a better decision.