Dear Daisy: Should I Tell My Friend How I Feel About Her Bad Husband?

daisy buchanan, grazia, agony aunt

by Daisy Buchanan |
Published on

Dear Daisy,

A good friend of mine is recovering from a very serious illness and has just found out her husband had been texting a girl he met while working away. He's adamant they never met up but the messages were rude and indicated a plan to meet. She kicked him out last month but has since allowed him back and they're going to work on their marriage.

I'm so worried about her. She is very low from the illness she has just suffered and, approaching 40 and wanting children I'm scared she's just staying with him in case she doesn't find anything else. During the break up she discovered he'd lied about other things - finances etc, and I'm just really worried about her.

My husband thinks it's my duty as a friend to tell her exactly how I feel but I know she already knows it. I may not have said it in exact words but all of our friends group and her family have indicated that we're worried about her.

Do I sit my friend down and upset her more by spelling it out or leave her to learn lessons herself?


Dear Emma,

I truly think this is one of the most frustrating parts of being a human. Nothing is more painful than seeing the people we love get hurt, especially when they’re hurt in love. We can be rational and objective where they are subjective and sometimes scared, because vision is often blurred when they look at their own life partners. They think they know their spouses better than anyone else, even when you know best. It’s as if they have a cherished cashmere jumper that has been savaged by moths, and they pick it up and put it on, remembering when it was brand new and they were swinging it from the thick cord handles of a posh carrier bag - even though you can see that it’s now backless, the cuffs are flapping about and it isn’t fit to be worn outside the house.

You’re a good friend, and you know what she’s been through recently. You understand that her confidence is at an all time low, and suspect she might be clinging to him to get through a difficult period. To be honest, you probably could persuade her to leave him, if that was what you really wanted to do. It sounds as though she’s not feeling strong, and she might welcome the chance to take some dramatic life advice and have some decisions made for her. However, I think this is precisely why you should stand well back.

I’d bet you my Boots Advantage points that this relationship is not going to last. But she needs to find the strength and confidence to make that call herself, if she’s going to get the most of her relationship afterlife and recover from the emotional upheaval she’s been through. There is no confidence boost like getting out of a bad relationship. It takes a while to kick in, but when your friend realises just what she’s escaped from, and how good it feels to be on her own for a bit, she’ll feel amazing. If you sit her down and say ‘You must leave him,’ she’ll probably listen and take action, but because she hadn’t come to the conclusion herself, she might second guess the sensible sentiments, decide she’s made a mistake and take her husband back again, or settle for someone equally awful because she thinks that any attention might make her feel less alone.

What you can do is boost her confidence in subtle ways. What is she good at? Emphasise her practical or creative skills, and help her find an outlet for them. Plenty of men and women endure terrible relationships in their thirties, only to fall in love in their forties, fifties and beyond. Try to find and share those stories. If everyone else in your circle is settled, she might feel like she’s on the last chopper out of ‘Nam. Are there any single people with similar stories that you could introduce her to? Without being the one who forces her to act, you can plant the idea that there is life outside her relationship.

Experiencing illness and infidelity may have made her feel insecure and anxious about her appearance too. It sounds shallow, but anything you can do to boost her ego in that area might be a big help. If she were my friend and I had some spare cash, I’d be tempted to suggest something cheesy like a photo shoot with a makeover, pretending it was for me. I know that makeovers usually only solve problems in eighties teen movies, but it might help her to see herself as a confident, attractive woman who is enough all by herself, and deserves nothing less than a perfect partner. It doesn’t even have to be that formal, a long lunch and a shopping trip might do the job.

It’s hard to have faith in people when you’ve seen them making and repeating bad decisions. But you have to find and keep the faith in your friend. If she feels as though she’s disappointed you by being unable to carry out your wishes, she might retreat into herself and she won’t keep the lines of communication open. If you can be patient with her now, and listen more than you talk, you can be sure that she’ll come to you when she needs you the most.

All love and luck,

Daisy X

READ MORE: Dear Daisy: How Can I Date With A Health Condition?

READ MORE: Dear Daisy: My Best Friend Has Declared He's In Love With Me

READ MORE: Dear Daisy: How Can My Long Distance Boyfriend Make More Effort?

Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us