I am friends with what has to be the most annoying couple on the face of the earth, “Tony” and “Toni” (yes, they have matching names, but I have changed them so please don’t change them again). I have known Tony since we were children, and he is a great guy to be around, most of the time, so I would hate to lose his friendship, but get him around Toni and he becomes an obnoxious bore.
Tony and Toni have had marital problems on and off from the better half of their marriage. They have children and cannot afford to get divorced, although they have separated several times, with Tony crashing on my couch and Toni getting their home and the kids. When Tony is away from Toni, he is the guy I enjoy being friends with – easygoing, determined to work hard and make a good life for himself and his kids. When Tony is with Toni he turns into Mr. Awesome Husband who can’t do enough to keep his wife happy, even if it leads to his own misery (which it often does). I don’t think my buddy deserves this, and I have suggested that maybe he should make the next separation a permanent one.
Toni thinks I am a bad influence on Tony because I am single (never married) and have no children. She thinks I want them to end their marriage so I have another single guy to pal around with, which is just plain crazy. I happen to know that Toni does plenty of “palling around” with other guys when she and Tony are on one of their breaks, so her devoted wife act isn’t fooling me.
Toni is talking about moving out of state for the “fresh start” she feels she and Tony need to save their marriage. She has recently completed training as a nail salon tech (what I call a manicurist) and wants to move to someplace warm and touristy where people get both manicures and pedicures year round. She thinks she will get more business this way, and she may be right, but what about Tony? Tony has fifteen years in with the same company, and is hoping for a big promotion next year. Toni has been throwing the old “If you really loved me…” line at him, trying to guilt him into leaving his secure job, friends, and family to follow her dream of being a manicurist. I know all of this because Tony complains about it to me all the time. I want to tell him to be a man and stand up for himself, but he is afraid that if he divorces Toni she will take the kids and move somewhere far away. What’s you take on the situation, Tazi?
Best Friend In A Bad Spot
Dear Best Friend In A Bad Spot:
You seem to know a LOT about Tony and Toni’s marriage; I am not certain that you are not Tony himself and just pretending to be his best friend. For that reason alone I will not suggest that you butt out of your friend’s affairs, and will offer you my advice.
All marriages have difficulties; it is a fact of life. It is how you deal with those difficulties that will determine whether or not the marriage will last. Since there are children involved, this adds another dimension as to how to go about trying to save the marriage, and doing whatever must be done to give the children a well-adjusted life throughout the process, and beyond. The back and forth separations that are occurring between Tony and Toni are not healthy for anyone directly affected by these changes – the children, Tony and Tony, you as the best friend stuck in between the two, and the men who get involved with Toni thinking they stand a chance at a future with her. The time has come to end all of this drama!
You write that Tony becomes Mr. Awesome Husband after each separation has been reconciled, but it is at the expense of his own happiness, so obviously these reconciliatory events are one sided and favoring Toni. I get the impression, based upon this evidence and her “If you really loved me…” ultimatums that she is emotionally abusing Tony, perhaps even using their children as a pawn to get him to submit to her will. No one should have to live like this.
The next time Tony starts complaining to you about his problems, suggest that he complain to a marital counselor instead. A disinterested third party is what is needed here to sort through the he said/she said dynamic and the deep rooted issues that are keeping Tony and Toni ever on the edge of another separation.
If the marriage cannot be saved and divorce is the path they choose to follow, Tony should stand up for his rights as a father. Nowadays, more and more divorced fathers are petitioning for physical custody of their children, and many of them are winning their cases. A judge can decided what is best for the children; sometimes, staying in familiar surroundings with their father is better for them than being yanked halfway across the country in order to stay with their mother.
Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.