"You need to get out of this marriage."

     At what point is the above an acceptable thing to say to a friend? I received these answers today:

It's acceptable if the intent is strictly to get the person out of a dangerous (mentally or physically) relationship.
If it's selfless in motivation.

I would assume you're extremely close with this person, and sometimes the best thing a friend can do is say something the other doesn't want to hear.

I mean, you certainly can't order them to do so, but if they value your opinion, and want to know how you really feel, I think you've every right to tell them honestly.

As sad as that may be...
I have had to tell more than one incredibly good friend almost that very thing, (get out of this relationship).
If you fear for them, believe that they need to hear it from you, and trust them to not take it as an attack, tell them.
Be careful, however, because if they do take it as an attack of their judgement, (or anything... really) you will probably loose them as a friend until they realize you were just being there for them...

It is a *really* shitty situation any way you look at it.

I had a conversation like this with a friend last year.

Their marriage began in the most romantic fairytale way, but over the following months disintegrated into a sad and sometimes scary story.

She had been badly abused in a past relationship and had all kinds of self-destructive tendencies and severe trust issues, coupled with accelerating alcoholism.

She would spend unexplained nights away from home and fly into a rage when questioned, even to the point of threating my friend with a steak knife. She would throw things, break his musical instruments, and take out anger on their cat.

My friend approached all of these issues with love, sensitivity and seemingly inexhaustable patience. But his friends could see that it was killing him.

I finally spent a day with him, discussed the situation in detail, and essentially had the conversation you're contemplating. He was receptive, appreciated the feedback and observations, but at that point in his life, it didn't matter. "I know all of these things," he said with a pained shrug, "but, you see... I love her."

Ultimately, his wife reached some kind of breaking point and decided to move back to Australia. My friend was strong enough to call the marriage off and file for divorce. He is still recovering, but is returning to himself once again.

Conversations like the one he had with me, and the feedback and support from other friends, did help. It just didn't affect what he was going to do at that moment.

Friends should point out, as sensitively as possible, what loved ones need to hear. They will appreciate it, at some level, but perhaps not right away.

Follow your heart, my friend. Advice is a dangerous gift.
I try to get them to realize it themselves by asking them questions.

When they are feeling down I try to keep them talking until they come to a point where it's almost a forgone conclusion, then I tell them because they will most of the time realized it them selves but are afraid to say it.

- Cynic -

Cynic's approach is wise...

It's hard to remember that we only see the side of the relationship we hear about and is presented to us... there is always more going on than is readily apparent.

Asking questions, being supportive, listening... all good things. Directly questioning someones judgement or telling them something they may not want to hear (or believe) ... not necessarily a good thing.

In the long run, friendship and support is going to mean a lot more (especially if the marriage does end up, well, ending).

My measely two cents,

I've had the heart to tell people that a relationship will not work out. I've done that twice in my life.

Both times they had listened, then continued on anyway. One led to a 2-year marriage.

Both ended in a very dramatic and ugly way.

Now the people involved will not talk to each other. Yet, they are all still friends with me. Everyone has told me "you were right, I should have listened to you". And they were all glad that I spoke my piece.

Tell them. Be honest. Be there for your friends. While they might not listen to you, it's still better than not saying anything at all.

     Of course, there are things they do not know.

     Most of them do not know about the daughter.

     None of the above knows about a recent incident.

     If they did, I am quite certain they would all tell me I should speak my piece now.

     But there is one more thing most of them are not aware of. We have an almost unspoken attraction for one another. We see in each other many of the things we desire. We are both quite lonely. If we had met a year or two after she had been divorced, it is quite likely we would already be exploring a relationship. As it is, were she to leave him I think it still likely we would explore that path. But I do not want even our friendship to give soil to the seeds of resentment. I do not want the responsibility of having her leave her husband. I do not want her to think I talked her into such an action.

     Inside I know if I am her friend, I will speak my mind. I know that she is a mature adult, capable of making her own decisions. I know that she is not easily talked into anything. I believe she is looking for a good, solid reason.

     I think the reason lies in this question: does she feel her daughter is safe with her husband? And I think I know the answer.

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