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Baggage Check: Grumpy hubby is alienating friends

By Andrea Bonior By Andrea Bonior
Andrea Bonior
Andrea Bonior (that's BONN-yer!) is a licensed clinical psychologist, professor, and writer. She completed her M.A. and Ph.D. in clinical psychology focusing on individual and group psychotherapy for young adults and specializing in the treatment of anxiety disorders and depression.

Q: My husband is a cranky person. I’ve dealt with it for years – it doesn’t bother me. I’ve recently realized that it really bothers some of my friends. We’re getting invited to fewer things. And I used to vent about him to my friends and we’d all laugh together about it. Now I notice they don’t laugh as much. I don’t want my friends to hate my husband, but I know that he’s not going to change and shouldn’t have to. – Grumpy’s Wife

Your friends don’t believe he should have to change either – and that’s precisely why they’ve stopped inviting you two to things. It’s one thing to be the lovable grump. It’s another to be the guy who makes people want to stab their eyes out with an olive fork.

You need to open yourself up to a real conversation with your most trusted friend. Tell her what you’ve told me, and try to keep from being defensive if you can. They’re not necessarily judging your marriage – or even your husband – just because they don’t happen to want to spend time with him. But you need to make it clear that you don’t want to lose them. You don’t have to be a package deal.

Q: I’ve been living with my parents for two years since my college graduation while I wait tables (among other jobs) and try to get myself together. I pay a little bit of rent and help out when I can. Recently, my father accused me of stealing money from them. He and I have never really seen eye to eye, but this is a total slap in the face. I can’t afford a place on my own yet, and I can’t stay in a place where I don’t feel trusted. I don’t know how to make him see that I didn’t do this. – Falsely Accused

There’s a pretty big gap between not seeing eye to eye and accusing someone of theft. And in that gap lies the prognosis for your situation: How deep are his resentments? How much is he willing to see the good sides of you and consider that he’s wrong?

Ask your mom what you could do to get back on the right track with him, and try to examine the role you play (no matter how small) in the conflict. There’s also the chance that your dad is having some cognitive or emotional symptoms that make him out of touch with reality. The more you’re willing to open the lines of communication and be compassionate, the better off you’ll be.

Andrea Bonior is a clinical psychologist and the author of “The Friendship Fix.”
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