As women, we often wonder: What was he thinking?! That’s why, every month, we ask our panel of husbands (whose identities will remain anonymous for their privacy and to keep them from getting into trouble with their wives) to help answer the tough questions and give us the straight scoop on how guys really think.
Here’s the newest dilemma:
Dear Inside His Head,
My husband has started asking me not to answer the phone if he notices that it’s my best friend calling. He knows I’ll probably be on the phone for at least an hour with her, talking about what’s going on in her life right now. I want to be supportive of my friend, but this is causing tension between my husband and me. He says she’s “too dramatic” and always has a problem. I’m not sure how to handle this one. Any advice?
Though suffering is a relative concept, is your friend is the type whose day is ruined from a broken nail or is she seeking refuge from an abusive husband? Sometimes people simply need someone to complain to, which isn’t the same as having a problem. If she does have a problem, ask yourself if it’s something you can do anything about. If you can help, work toward a solution and don’t languish in the issue.
If you can’t help your friend then ask yourself what role you’re playing. We all need someone who will be a good ear or shoulder from time to time, but some people are seemingly never satisfied with a single day of their life. If your friend is in this final category then you might be able to help them more by not listening to them whine and encouraging them to find meaningful pursuits.
Rather than endure hours of complaints, make time to do something that will give you both a happy memory to talk about instead. I’m sure your husband be happier with a “girls’ night out” instead of hearing the din of “wolf….wolf” all the time.
Even if the two of you weren’t doing anything important, your husband may be offended if he feels like you’re dropping him because your friend’s crying over the cake she just burnt. I don’t recommend airing dirty laundry, but if your friend is dealing with serious issues then it might help your husband if he understood at least type of situation with which your friend is coping. Knowing he’s not being overlooked for a bad case of split ends will go a long way.
Finally, if your friend has problems that look more like a wolf in sheep’s clothing don’t be afraid to direct them to people who can make a difference. Friends sometimes feel like they can carry the weight of their friends’ problems even if they’re in way over their head. Whether it’s financial, psychological or situational, professionals are out there and able to assist. You can sometimes be a better friend by letting someone else help in ways you are unable.
MICHAEL: The answer isn’t to not answer the phone. But you should set limits on how long you talk. Your friend is being rude an inconsiderate to monopolize your time. You can be supportive of your friend without disrupting your home life. Being supportive doesn’t mean listening to someone ramble for an hour about their problems.
If this happens on a regular basis you really have to let your friend know when you answer the phone that you can only talk for a few minutes.
You might also set up a certain time of week that you two talk so you can have a longer conversation.
You can take the call in another room so as not to make your husband listen in. Then when the call is over snuggle up with your husband and don’t complain about anything your friend has said
MAVERICK: Since you say he just started, I have to assume he’s been pretty patient with the friend who calls for free psychiatric advice (Even Lucy charged 5 cents) and your need to be super-supportive for long, long, long blocks of time.
An hour is a long time, likely it’s even more because you likely lose track of time while she vents and you play shrink. Unless he’s a control freak your husband is simply trying to tell you he resents the time you spend with your friend at the expense of spending time together. For men, sitting and watching TV in the same room or pretty much doing anything is togetherness. You, in the other room playing Dr. Phil for hours on end, is not.
Let’s try some role reversal. You’d likely be pretty bugged if one of your husband’s buddies randomly came over in the evening, with great regularity, and your hubby got up to talk with him for over an hour while they tossed back some beers.
But wait you say, your situation is totally different … Are you sure it is?
If your friend needs the help and you want to spend the time and think it’s important to let her talk and for you to listen the solution is simple: quit doing it on your husband’s time.
When your friend calls, unless she sounds like she’s about to jump off a bridge, tell her to call you back, say at lunch, or anytime it doesn’t interfere with your family life. If that bugs her, well tough. You can spend the next hour-long yack session discussing how, besides being dramatic and needy, she’s also way too selfish.