How can I help a friend in an unhappy marriage?
April 21, 2009 6:06 PM Subscribe
My friend is trapped in a miserable marriage. Is there anything I can do to help?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (11 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I have been friends with Amy for about five years. She and her husband Jim have been married for about 15. No kids. He is not physically abusive, but he is mean, selfish, and very possessive. He used to go through her e-mail and check her phone records. For years she wasn't allowed to visit her family or have a job. They fought about it often.
Two years ago she left him. She told me it was the happiest she has ever been, and it showed. But Jim begged and pleaded for a second chance, and after six months she went back. Not because she wanted to, but because she felt she owed it to him. He is treating her better than he was, but he still makes her feel bad about herself, and she is just as unhappy as before - probably more. Jim does not believe they need couples' counseling, and I don't think he understands why she left in the first place.
Amy is on anti-depressants and seeing a therapist who is trying to encourage her to leave Jim, but she won't. She says she promised him she would never leave again. (I'm not sure why she agreed to this.) I have repeatedly tried to convince her that she needs to take care of herself first, but she says it's her own fault that she's unhappy, and she gets very upset when I try to talk to her about it. Her mother (her only surviving family member) also tells her she needs to leave, but she won't listen. Jim keeps her very busy around the house, and she doesn't have any other friends to talk to, besides me, who aren't his friends.
I've asked my friends for advice, and they all say Amy needs to make the first move. Normally I would agree, but... she is so very depressed. She told me she's given up on being happy again. I'm afraid that she won't make things better on her own.
I'm trying to be supportive. We talk often. Is there something else I can do? She is the one of the kindest people I know, and a wonderful friend. It breaks my heart to see her in so much pain.
Thank you for listening.