Welcome to Ask April, a no-nonsense advice column focusing on what it is you can do to correct things that need correcting. While we all know much in life is out of our control, and sometimes, our reaction is all we CAN control- we really do have a lot of personal power, thankfully. Our will is just as important as the wills of others around us, and while we need to be considerate, we also need to make sure others are equally considerate of us. It is my hope that when you write in to me, asking advice, that I can help you make a good decision that somehow improves whatever situation you’ve found yourself in. As with anything I share, I recommend people don’t automatically take my word for anything, but include my advice in with the rest of the things that help them make a decision. I wish you well. Read on.
Every other week, I answer a call for advice, and every other week, I share my views on something I observed- I call this Observational Wisdom.
Without revealing personal information, let me just say, it’s been one hell of a week for conversations.
Between personal talks with loved ones, and reading what people have to say on social media, I am reminded of just how often people struggle to maintain relationships.
I am also struck by how many well-meaning individuals go out of their way to insinuate themselves when people they know are having said struggles.
I cannot tell you how infuriating it has been in my own life, the few times when other people tried to step in and micromanage my relationships.
The very last thing two people need when they are trying to work out a problem, is outsiders chiming in, and trying to control things.
Types of situations range from couples issues to those of friends. In the rare instances mediation is required, both parties struggling have to deal not only with one another, but a third party who may or may not know what the hell they are talking about. I have seen and heard people give the most bone brained advice when trying to mediate problems other people are having, and quite often, the advice is not even asked for.
I wonder what it is about human beings that we take it upon ourselves to butt into other people’s business.
I also wonder if ours is the only species that does this. Do mother cats try to dictate who their grown kittens mate with? Do dung beetles tell each other not to be friends with the new beetle of the dung hill? Do ostriches badmouth their friends other friends to try and drive a wedge?
Or is it just us dumb ass humans?
Cases in point- I know a girl online who is having issues with her husband- who I doubt she is going to leave. She ASKED for advice from people. So, people gave it. However, two people got into an argument online over it all. It didn’t help, and I don’t understand it. She’s got enough to think about without worrying two people who she knows are squabbling in her presence. Their attacks of one another did not change the issue, and it did nothing to show support.
I have family members who recently had marital issues. They are both almost forty years old, and have been together since high school. They work, pay their own bills, and have kids they take care of. Suffice to say, they do not need anybody to tell them how to adult, let alone how to be married. The one kept mostly quiet, the other talked about it more. “Well-meaning” individuals decided to voice their opinions, and try to influence the couple’s decisions. Know what I said? I said I was sorry they were going through this, and I loved them no matter what they decided was right for them to do. I am divorced, myself, and I’ve had lovers, as well as friends I broke things off with because it was right for me. I also have friends I worked things out with, and truthfully, my husband and I have had our ups and downs, and we are blessed to still be together. Who would I be to try to dictate what somebody else decided in the situations I, myself have been in? I respected their right to make their own decisions about their marriage, which I am not involved in, even though I am family. Know what happened? They worked things out- however- they have not forgotten who all said what, and they never will. They shouldn’t.
My husband and I are friends with a very nice couple. Some of her family dislikes him, even though I can’t see any reason for it. He is a good person, and treats her very well. They have a great relationship, and a good life together. Okay, we are ALL allowed to dislike who we dislike, right? The issue? Some of her family members badmouth him every time they see her, and some of them scream at her, and demand she divorce him. Although it’s not happened yet, eventually, she is going to cut ties with these family members.
I know another couple who are young, and are struggling. Recently, a “best friend” of one of them badmouthed the other. The couple, of course, made up, but guess who the one can’t stand now? The “best friend”. If she keeps it up, one of these days the one will ditch her for attacking his significant other, and she won’t be missed.
None of these couples benefit from people butting in, but it still happens.
They are normal people, and have the same things happen in their relationships everybody else does.
Some would say that if you tell people your business, you are asking for people to speak their opinions.
No, you aren’t.
I do keep things to myself when I don’t want to hear anything people have to say, because I know some people can’t just listen objectively, and let us vent sometimes. Friends, however, are supposed to be there to lean on in bad times. If you can’t go to your friends, and tell them your troubles, what is the point of friendships in the first place?
Only offer advice if asked- EXCEPT in situations of abuse. Then, as a friend, you MUST step in. Other than that, shut up, and listen only when you let your heartbroken friends vent to you, but respect their right to make their own decisions about their other relationships. If you really love somebody, this is the least you can do for them.