Friendship marred by man's harsh treatment of his wife

DEAR ABBY: I have a good male friend whose company I have enjoyed very much. He's outgoing and likes many of the same activities I do. Should I ever need anything, I know he would be there for me.

Unfortunately, this same person is very disrespectful to his wife. He's severely critical of everything she does. I have seen him yell and make disparaging remarks to her, to the extent that I feel it borders on abusive. His wife is a warm, caring, selfless individual who deserves to be loved by someone who appreciates all that she is and does.

Because of the way he treats her, I no longer enjoy being around him. I'd like to remain friends with this couple, but I'm not sure how to. I am very sad about all of this. Please help me.


DEAR ANGUISHED: I don't blame you for feeling sad about what you have witnessed. While you would like to continue the friendship, please recognize that unless some changes are made, it isn't going to happen. You would be doing your friend (and his wife) a favor to tell him how bad his verbal abuse makes HIM look and how harmful it is to his wife. And while you're at it, suggest that if they are having problems — which they obviously are — they try to work them out with a licensed marriage and family therapist.

DEAR ABBY: Recently my middle sister started dating my younger sister's ex-boyfriend. My younger sister dated this guy in college (10 years ago) and really cared for him. It ended when she found out he had cheated on her. Younger sister is now married and has a small child.

Middle sister started dating this ex a few months ago and really likes him. He has been over to see my parents, and they are supportive of the relationship. The problem is, no one wants to tell my younger sister for fear of her being mad.

I talk to her almost daily. I'm afraid that once she finds out, which is bound to happen, she will be more upset with me (and my parents) for hiding it from her than the fact that they're dating. Should I tell her or is it not my place?

I don't want to feel like I am lying or hiding anything anymore, but I also feel like my middle sister should admit it, which she said she isn't ready to do because she doesn't want to say anything unless this turns into something serious. What should I do?


DEAR CAUGHT IN THE MIDDLE: From where I sit, you have sized the situation up accurately. Your younger sister will be mortified when she realizes that everyone knew her sister has been dating the ex for months and it was kept from her. Talk to your middle sister. Insist that the sneaking around stop, because it could cause a permanent breach in the family.


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