Dear Wendy: “How Can I Support My Friend But Convince Her Not To Marry Her Boyfriend?”

My best friend “Brenda” and I are both 23. She and her boyfriend Jason have been together for about a year and a half, and have lived together for the last nine or 10 months. He’s been wanting to get married for awhile, but she keeps saying she isn’t ready. The thing is, she has said to me privately that it’s more than just not being ready. Jason has made it very clear that he wouldn’t want his wife to work, but Brenda has such a promising and demanding career and has always said to me that she’d want to work in some capacity even when she’s a mom. Jason wants to be the sole wage earner and have a stay-at-home wife, but he doesn’t even have a career direction yet. I don’t think they are too young to be married, but I do think they have two very different visions for how their lives as married people will go. Now, even while she’s saying these things and expressing these concerns about Jason, they’re planning and saving for their eventual wedding. And not the hypothetical type of planning — the actual making calls and choosing venues type of planning. I know her relationship is none of my business, but she does want to talk about it with me, so my issue is: how do I walk the line between supporting her and confirming that her doubts are significant and she should really consider them before she moves forward in the relationship? I don’t want to flat-out say, “Don’t marry him!” but I also don’t want to brush off her feelings of hesitation. — Walking the Line

Dear Wendy: “He Doesn’t Think I’m Fat Enough”

The best way to confirm your friend’s doubts without coming across as bad-mouthing her relationship or her boyfriend is to let her be the one to confirm her doubts. You can do that by repeating all of her doubts to her in the form of questions. For example, the next time she expresses how confused she is and how she doesn’t know what to do, you can say, “I know. He’s such a great person, but, like you said, he wants a wife who is going quit working to stay home and be a housewife. Are you ready to give up your career for him, because that’s what he would want if you marry him?” And, “It must be so confusing because you love him, but you seem to want different things. He’s ready for babies immediately, but you’re nurturing your career right now, something he would want you to give up to be a stay-at-home-mom. Is that a sacrifice you’re willing to make?”

By posing these questions, you’re not saying, “Don’t marry him!!” but you’re (hopefully) giving her a better view of that that conclusion herself. Sometimes people need to hear their own doubts out loud from the mouths of someone else. These doubts may need to be repeated frequently, but as long as Brenda keeps coming to you for advice — showing you she’s open to hearing what you have to say — and as long as you continue to refrain from putting Jason down, hopefully she will eventually see the light and cancel her wedding planning. And if she doesn’t? Well, it’s her life and her mistake to make…

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