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Dear Emuna: When Friends Hurt a Spouse

August 8, 2013 | by Emuna Braverman

I was hurt by my husband’s friends and even more hurt that my husband doesn’t stand by me.

Dear Emuna,

My husband has been friends with a married couple long before we got married. This is our second marriage (I was a widow and he was divorced). I don’t particularly like this couple but when it came to marrying off my children and my husband’s children I invited them to the weddings. They didn’t come but I did invite them - for my husband’s sake.

They subsequently sent an invitation for their son’s bar mitzvah and addressed it only to my husband. Same story when they were marrying off a son – they excluded me. My husband knows how hurt I was but he just says “Oh that’s just how they are,” and continues to be regular contact with them as if nothing happened. Do you think that it’s right for him to do that after they hurt me so much? I am even more hurt that my husband doesn’t stand by me and continues his friendship with them. Please let me know what you think about this.

Very Hurt Wife

Dear Very Hurt,

It never ceases to amaze me how rude and nasty people can be. I can’t think of any other words to describe the behavior of your husband’s so-called friends. I say “so-called” because if they were true friends, they wouldn’t treat someone he loves (you!) in such a poor, mean and hurtful fashion.

Many years ago when I was engaged, I had a friend who did not like my fiancé (now my husband!). She let me know that she was only willing to continue our friendship if we could both pretend when together that my fiancé didn’t exist. So I ended the friendship. I didn’t see how I could have a relationship with someone who was determined to deny the most important relationship in my life.

I would expect the same of your husband and it is incomprehensible to me that he continues the friendship as if nothing has happened. He needs to have someone point out to him that his priorities are backwards. Since he seems unable to hear that from you, please find a third party whom he respects who can give him this message. This advice would hold true even if the difficult, cruel people in the story were a parent or a child where the relationship is deeper and more important. No one should allow their spouse to be treated in such a way and guidelines need to be established from the get-go.

Hopefully a more objective person will help your husband see that your goal is not to separate him from the friends he had previously (which he probably imagines and is the only motive I can think of for his allowing this abhorrent behavior to continue) but to ensure that you are included, treated with respect and at a minimal level, not hurt.

For any marriage to succeed, this basic level of consideration and accompanying behavior must be met.

Marriage, Stress & the Bar Exam

Dear Emuna,

I graduated from law school in May 2012 and got married in September of the same year. I thought I could handle semi-planning my wedding during my engagement period while studying for the California Bar Exam. This exam is the hardest in the nation and is incredibly difficult to pass. I unfortunately did not pass the July 2012 bar exam, although I was not too surprised since my attention was basically somewhere else. Still, I put a lot of time and effort into it and gave up many of the things that one should enjoy when engaged.

I got married in September 2012 and the first year has, for the most part, been wonderful. I love my husband and enjoy our life together. I studied for the following bar exam (the exam is given only in February and July of every year), given in February 2013. For this exam, I was determined to pass. I honestly tried everything in my power to pass this exam – attended lectures, did countless practice essays, did about 1,000 practice multiple choice questions, etc. As part of studying so hard, I spent much less time with my then-new husband, spent the weekends in the library, came home around 10 PM many nights during the week. I was so sure I passed and so was he. We were so excited to put this stressful, awful chapter of my life behind us.

To my horror, I didn’t pass by about 10 multiple choice questions. Even as I write this now, almost 3 months after finding out I didn’t pass, I’m still shocked and so upset.

I decided not to take this past July 2013 exam because we had already planned a trip to Israel for 2 weeks and we were moving to a new house, and I did not want to miss out on another beautiful chapter of my life because of this exam. So, I will be studying for the February 2014 bar exam.

My question to you is this: When I think about how I have to study for this test again, I get a feeling of dread and anxiety and anger. It is truly unfair that I did not pass and I wish so badly I could change it. The trouble is that all this anger and disappointment is eating away at my peace of mind and I am in a bad mood often because of this. And the worst part is that I sometimes take it out on my husband and start fights with him and pick at little things he does that bother me (instead of picking my battles). I feel like it’s affecting my marriage and that’s the last thing I want to do – I don’t want to be a nagging wife and distant from my husband. I want to remain dear to him. Please tell me what to do so that I keep this exam and the stress it has been causing (and will cause me) to not negatively affect my marriage and my life. Thank you so much,


Dear Disappointed,

I’m not sure that I’m the best person to answer this question since I graduated from law school and chose not to even take the bar at all! But I’ll try.

I think there are a few separate issues that must be addressed.

You claim that it is “truly unfair that I did not pass.” I think this is a damaging and destructive way of thinking. The test is constructed in a particular way and it really doesn’t matter whether you studied hard or whether you missed 1 or 101 answers. You didn’t pass. There’s nothing “unfair” about it. Disappointing and frustrating maybe, but not unfair. Everyone is in the same boat. You weren’t singled out for any discriminatory treatment. “Unfair” breeds resentment and bitterness. You need to accept the results as they are.

You speak about the bar exam but not about being a lawyer. Is this something you very much want to do? Are you and your husband dependent on your projected income? These are important questions that must be answered before you subject yourself to the stress of another try.

You also mention that you are picking fights with your husband. Unless you can manage the stress better, it doesn’t seem wise to immerse yourself in test-taking yet again. You don’t want to place your husband and your marriage under this strain. Before you take it again, I recommend that you evaluate whether this is indeed what you really want to do with your life and learn some stress management techniques.

Whether you pursue the bar exam and a law career or not, life has many stressors. You need to find better ways to cope or your marriage and your husband will, God forbid, always pay the price.

Summer Madness

Dear Emuna,

Summer is only half over but I’m going out of my mind. My kids eat all day nonstop, leaving crumpled wrappers, dirty dishes, half-filled cups and used napkins scatter throughout the house. If they go to the beach or a friend’s pool, sandy and/or wet towels add to the mess. Not only do they show no inclination to clean up after themselves but they are always asking me to drive them here, pick them up there and buy them this or that. I’m losing it. Help!

Ready for School

Dear Ready,

You’ve summed up neatly why I don’t like summer, the end result of a complete lack of routine, rules and structures.

If you’re anything like me, you may have forgotten to put some structure in place ahead of time and now you’re very frustrated and will probably lose your temper (read: blow your stack) with your messy kids.

But it’s not too late (still a month left of vacation) to impose a little order on your household.

Establish some rules regarding clean up and other expectations. Link them to privileges (including your willingness to drive). It’s hard to lower the boom. It seems easier to just go with the flow. Except that in the end it isn’t. And you aren’t doing you or your kids any favor. They will actually welcome the organization and structure (after some initial grumbling) and peace and order may actually reign again. But act immediately. Your sanity is at stake.

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