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Support and Feedback From Friends Isn’t Always Helpful

WomenGettingBadCroppedEveryone in Joan’s life was telling her to get a divorce. Her husband Greg had been having a secret affair for months. His dishonesty was more painful to Joan than the affair itself. She doubted that she would ever be able to trust him again. “Get rid of him!” her sister pleaded. “Once a cheater always a cheater,” her best friend told her. Joan’s friends meant well, but they were biased. They were distressed to see her in so much pain and they wanted the old Joan back again. Normally strong, Joan was now having trouble keeping her life together. To observers, it can appear simple and clear-cut that there are perpetrators and victims. On closer investigation, however, there is usually more to the story.

Joan had played a part in the demise of the marriage. She had not been receiving the emotional support she desired and had been angry and punitive toward Greg for a long time. Freezing him out was her way of making him pay. She had been an accomplice in the denial, which allowed their facade of a marriage to continue, with neither of them addressing their difficulties in a straightforward fashion. They had each quietly conspired to create a context in their relationship that allowed their marriage to deteriorate. While this does not justify Greg’s infidelity, Joan was complicit in creating conditions in the marriage that gave rise to his affair. Until she was able to recognize this as well as her intention to punish him by withholding her deeper feelings, the real healing couldn’t begin.

Joan’s friends and family were reacting from a dualistic perspective of right and wrong, good and bad, victims and perpetrators. While it’s tempting to see things in these terms, when it comes to relationships, things are rarely so cut and dried. It’s a lot to ask of our friends and family to see a more complex picture. But if we want high-level support, rather than sympathy, that’s what we need to do. We can instead say, “Please don’t take sides. The best way you can assist me is to help me see my part in this breakdown.” Otherwise, we may be better off not telling them our one-sided version of the story.

Support and Feedback From Friends Isn’t Always Helpful

Bloomwork

Linda Bloom LCSW and Charlie Bloom MSW are considered experts in the field of relationships. They have been married since 1972. They have both been trained as seminar leaders, therapists and relationship counselors and have been working with individuals, couples, and groups since 1975. They have been featured presenters at numerous conferences, universities, and institutions of learning throughout the country and overseas as well. They have appeared on over two hundred radio and TV programs. Linda and Charlie are co-authors of the widely acclaimed books: 101 Things I Wish I Knew When I Got Married: Simple Lessons to Make Love Last (over 100,000 copies sold) Secrets of Great Marriages: Real Truth from Real Couples about Lasting Love, and Happily Ever After...and 39 Other Myths about Love: Breaking Through to the Relationship of Your Dreams. The Blooms are excited to announce the release of their fourth book, That Which Doesn't Kill Us: How One Couple Became Stronger at the Broken Places. They live in Santa Cruz, California, near their two children and three grandchildren. To view our upcoming events and to sign up for our free newsletter, visit our website at: www.Bloomwork.com


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APA Reference
Bloom, L. (2014). Support and Feedback From Friends Isn’t Always Helpful. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 19, 2019, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/relationship-skills/2014/01/support-and-feedback-from-friends-isnt-always-helpful/

 

Last updated: 27 Jan 2014
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 27 Jan 2014
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.