Lifestyle

‘My friend and her husband always fight when we go out’


From bickering couples to other vexing issues of a personal nature, clinical psychologist Jo Lamble answers questions from readers looking for expert advice on social dilemmas and relationship problems.

Question:

A friend of mine is constantly bickering with her husband. Even though she says it’s their way of communicating, I find it really hard to be around them. Recently, our group of friends went out for dinner and they argued throughout; it was embarrassing and uncomfortable for all of us. We don’t want to go out as a group anymore, even though the rest of us enjoy each other’s company. What do we do?

Jo’s answer:

Some couples do bicker a lot, which can be uncomfortable for others, but fine for the couple themselves. You’ve obviously already spoken to your friend about it if she’s explained that it’s their way of communicating. Have you told her that you find it uncomfortable and embarrassing? She may be a little more inclined to tone it down if she knows it really affects you.

If she still doesn’t think that there is anything to change, then you and your other friends have a few choices. You can choose to continue seeing them but try to ignore their bickering as much as possible. That would mean that you simply turn your attention to others if they’re fighting amongst themselves. Ignoring them could also mean physically moving away from them by leaving the table or moving to another part of the room.

The other option would be that you don’t organise gatherings with this couple and only see them if they’re on their own. That’s obviously really hard to do and may affect your friendship. But it may send a strong message that the bickering is not fun to be around.

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Question:

I’m the first one out of all my friends to have a baby. Between work, being a new dad and spending time with my wife, I haven’t had much time to catch up with my friends, especially in those first few months.

After a while, they stopped inviting me to the pub and to dinner, and I’m not sure how to reconnect. None of them understand what I’m going through and sometimes say insensitive things like, “Why can’t your wife just look after the baby?” I feel I’m losing my friends.

Jo’s answer:

Most new parents will tell you that the first year of their baby’s life goes by in a blur. Your friends probably won’t fully understand unless they too have children. So try not judge them too harshly for saying insensitive things. They may well apologise down the track.

I do think it’s important that both you and your wife have some me-time, though. Having a baby is obviously wonderful and you need to also spend time as a couple, but if you don’t both escape for some time with your own friends, you can start to feel disconnected. Maybe you could meet up with your friends once a month and your wife could do the same. That way, you’ll both get an injection of fun, which can also be rejuvenating.

Got an issue for Jo to tackle? Send your question to [email protected]