Of friendships and taking sides.

"Would like to ask your opinion on this matter. These 2 friends I have (married couple) are in the middle of a divorce. The husband is asking us friends to take sides while the wife is always calling us up to cry her heart out. I am sandwiched in the middle because I am close to both of them and I hate to see them do this to each other. What I hate even more is that I have to choose to be friends with only one of them when we have been close friends for more than 10 years. Can you tell me what I should do? I love them both but I don't agree with what they are doing. I would like to remain by their side through this rough time but I feel like I would be betraying one friendship if I am helping the other one. Is this normal?"

Toughcookie says:
First of all, I don't think I should be telling you what you should do because for one, I hardly know you or your friends, and I do not know the depth of the situation. But, I recall of a similar instance which I had faced before and I shall share with you what I did, although it may not be the best answer to your qualms.

Friendship is very important to me especially when friends were always there for me. However, when it comes to a marriage, no one really knows what truly happened in a crisis. Most of the time, I feel that it is always a "He says vs. She says" situation. You hear one side and you gather this information and then you hear the other side and you gather another information. Both stories can be so out of this world but they stick to their story. They may be true, they may be not... they may even be an exaggeration of what actually happened because seriously, I think that when one is so adamant about leaving their partner, they would say whatever it takes to convince themselves that they are right. Note that I said - to convince themselves.

The friends that I was close to before were the perfect couple everyone wanted to emulate. They're both gorgeous, have strong careers and handsome children. It was a shock to everyone in the circle when we were told of their impending divorce and that they were already separated. What shocked me more was the way everything was handled.

I was closer to the guy before but I dunno, being a woman myself, I somehow have more empathy towards the woman. This is because in many many (note that I said many, not all) instances, men, no matter how nice of a person they are, always suck when it comes to dealing with a divorce. We'll see the worst of them and how magnified their egos can be. Heck, even if they have never played an active role in raising their little kids, they would nevertheless fight for the custody of the children because of spite. I've seen how the dad would just leave his kids in the care of his mom and not really bothered about the kids, and he did it because he knew the ex would be crushed without the kids. And I asked, what happened to all the love they had for each other...

The thing is, in matters like this, friends hardly question what goes on behind everything. We'd be more inclined to listen to one side and believe whatever we've seen or heard. In gatherings among friends, everyone would just talk bad about the former partner and only one or two of us would question things that do not tally.

To me, when it comes to a troubled marriage, both are at fault. There must be something that triggered such a massive decision. It may just be a small matter like the wife has been fat after giving birth or bigger problems like betrayal of trust. Everyone is just selfish these days and that they want a quick solution. The thing is, issues take time to resolve and if both are committed to the vows they've made to each other, they would have helped each other through thick and thin. And I am talking about normal issues here... not those where the spouse has been physically abused or stuff like that, ya.

I felt that the wisest thing to do was to leave them alone. Let them settle their dispute on their own because for one thing - they are adults with brains that are 100% functional. Yes, they may feel down and all but the problem lies with the both of them. It is unfair to make friends take sides especially since you've been friends with both of them. Let them think on their own. Sometimes, friends do not help calm the situation... when some start to take sides, the situation can get even worse because everyone starts adding more information and what was a small issue that can be ironed out, become bad because egos flare and everyone wants to win.

I believe that EVERY problem has a solution and it takes a calm and mature person to think rationally without anyone budding in. Like I said, no one really knows what went on in their marriage and it is totally unfair for us to just take in one side of the story.

You can be sympathetic to what they're going through and still remain by their 'side'. If any of them need help say in looking for a new place to stay or financial support, it is up to you to assist them in this time of need. You don't have to participate in bashing sessions and just be frank about not wanting to get involved in their marriage woes.

In any matters, I just do not believe that it is worth getting myself involved in others' marriage crisis. More often than not, the matters will eventually be resolved with or without you. You can be a good listener if you want, but if that makes you feel like you're betraying the other person, you can either make them understand your firm view on this matter or you could let them face this on their own until they're much calmer and more rational.

One day, they will have to understand that you are a person with principles, you're actually being a good friend by not making things worse and that they were stupid enough to not be able to deal with their own issues without getting others involved. I did just that and although the friendship was never the same again, I never regretted my decision.

There will always be repercussions in everything you do. It depends on you and what's more important to you.