Look BanterGirl!

With Advice Columnist KAYTLIN BAILEY

Marriage and...Divorce

My now ex-husband and I met in college and have kept a lot of the same college friends over the past 10 years. We were lucky to be a part of a great group that had multiple couples, some of whom are still married and some who have split up. In situations where there has been a divorce, it has seemed inevitable that one half of the couple fades away a little bit, and it's always the woman. I am best friends with all of these people and really don't want to lose any of them as friends, but I fear that just because my ex is a guy, he'll just end up closer to the guys inevitably. Do I address this with my friends before it even happens or just try my best to keep in touch with everyone as normal?

Look BanterGirl, splitting up property is hard; splitting up people is harder. You mentioned that this particular group of friends tend to keep men around after a split. Why is that? What originally brought the group together? Who organizes things? If your divorce was amicable I don’t see why you can’t be honest with your ex, and your friends, about your fears. It’s possible to stay friends with both of you, especially if you can be civil with each other at parties and events. If you make that intention clear, you and your ex can both make an effort to include each other in group activities, in theory.

Divorce, whether amicable or nasty, means a lot of changes happening very quickly. You’ll both need a support network during this rough patch. “Fading away” may have been a choice some of these women made, rather than something that happened to them. After finding a new place to live, a new routine, and a new partner, it makes sense that someone would also want to make new friends. You may desperately want to keep these friends now to “win.” You may be unconsciously trying to prove to yourself that you’re more likeable, or whatever. In six months, you may find that you feel obligated to go to another boring party filled with couples you no longer want to see. Things happen. It’s all natural and normal. It doesn’t matter whether these people stay in your life or why. You can’t force a relationship, romantic or otherwise.

This is so frustrating. My husband and I are recently married, don't have kids, and we both work full time. We're having a problem with housework in our apartment. We’re not the cleanest people, and it's fine.  We both try to alternate with dishes, vacuuming, and general straightening up. But then with things like cleaning the toilet (or the entire bathroom), or washing the floors, this work seems to all fall on me. I just genuinely think it doesn't bother him that the bathroom tiles gets gross. But it does with me! He just never thinks to do these things, and I end up doing them because things just get icky, and it's embarrassing to have people over. Since we've lived together, I don't think he's once cleaned the tub or gotten down to scrub the dirt out from between the tiles on the floor. I don't know how to address this because whenever I act like he's not doing enough housework he tells me that he feels the same way about me, and I honestly don't blame him! We both do things that the other doesn't notice, but with the bathroom/deep cleaning stuff it just feels extremely one-sided. For me, it's just impossible to let the toilet stay dirty! How do we deal with this?

Look BanterGirl, it’s not really about the bathroom. Marriage isn’t about dividing chores equally, it’s about being on the same team. One person could be 3% better at grocery shopping and do 100% of the grocery shopping until they drop dead. The problem isn’t that this particular task feels one-sided, it’s the resentment.

You say that you and your husband both feel like you’re doing too much of the housework.  Maybe that’s true. Maybe you always clean the bathroom for company, and he always cleans the gutters. Both jobs are gross.  When you’re both calm, ask your husband to sit down with you and write a list of all the things you do that you hate. Have him do the same. Now, you both have a list of tasks you don’t like, but that you both feel you do all the time. Trade equitable tasks, and if it seems like you’re doing too much, hire someone to do the thing you hate!  There are people who will deep clean your bathroom once a month for $40-$100. Spend the money and stop keeping score.

My best friend is going through a divorce right now, and it has been really rocky. We've been friends for 10 years, and I feel for her during this tough time, but honestly over the past three or four years, she's changed into a person who is sometimes very hard to be around. She's become very self-absorbed, doesn't really have much of a sense of humor anymore, and she sometimes treats her husband like he's some sort of annoying child. It's obviously not all the time, but she gets so snappy and dismissive of him at dinners, and it was really uncomfortable to be around. I basically don't blame him for wanting a divorce. How do I support my friend, but also maybe try to help her see where she went wrong?

Look BanterGirl, it sounds like your best friend grew to hate her now ex-husband. It’s hard to come back from contempt. She may have learned that from her mother, or maybe he did something (or a bunch of things) to make her resent him. Either way, it sucks.  If this is your best friend, you owe her honesty and kindness, not necessarily in that order. Divorce is hard. We all become our worst selves during moments like this. Sleep deprivation, stress, and hating the man you sleep next to are bound to turn us all into monsters.

It sounds like your friend could use a therapist in addition to your support. You aren’t a mental health expert, so it’s not your job to diagnose anyone, just try to have some fun together. Remind her what that is. Try sitting her down to watch Grace & Frankie together. But ultimately, you can only help so much. If a year after the divorce your friend is still a tough pill to swallow, tell her so. Life is short. You aren’t obligated to hang out with shitty people just because they used to be cool.

Please submit your questions to Kaytlin at: kaytlinb@gmail.com

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