She’s Married to ‘Don Downer’

The husband of an FOFriend is not a happy guy. He isn’t sociable to most of her friends, he’s sarcastic every opportunity he can get and he has a generally  negative disposition. He loves my friend, but he doesn’t appear to love much else (least of all himself), and if he had his druthers, he’d probably go off to live in a secluded spot with only my friend.


This makes me sad, not because I’m unhappy for the man, but because I don’t get to enjoy my friend as much as I’d like. When I do get to see her, hubby is usually around,  acting his usual downer self. When he’s not sarcastic, he’s haughty. It’s a wicked alternative. Another friend I share with this friend feels just as I do and has decided that the unpleasantness involved with seeing her with her husband is not worth it. So she’s stopped calling.

I won’t dare bring up how I feel with my friend because it will only make her defensive , and besides, it won’t change her husband’s misery. I’d be thrilled to see my friend solo but she doesn’t go out much without her husband, so that’s not possible.

It’s endlessly fascinating to see how different women respond to different men. He’s a prince to one, a pathetic creature to another.  It’s surely one of those things that make the world go round. I guess it wouldn’t be nearly as interesting if we all loved ourselves and each other. What would we write and talk about?

 

 

22 Responses to “She’s Married to ‘Don Downer’”

  1. Kathy says:

    Isolation is another tool in the abusive man’s tool chest and he may play the victim and make your friend feel guilty for going out without him.

    I too have been in an abusive marriage for 10 years, trying to get out…it’s very hard as other commentors have noted.

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  2. Mick says:

    Perhaps the husband is suffering from depression. He doesn’t feel good about himself or anyone else, so the sarcasm is a defense mechanism to cloak low self-esteem. Men may feel like they are past their prime, didn’t accomplish what they wanted out of life, or lose life focus when they retire because they lose their sense of identity when they stop working. They don’t know what to do with themselves if they haven’t got a hobby, a circle of friends, or an interest in something like charity work.

    Woman typically have a larger circle of friends, community ties through church or volunteer work, hobbies and interests that are shared with others, and plenty of stuff to do around the house (gardening and housework).

    You can continue to see your friend without her husband. Meet her somewhere for lunch. Encourage her to join an exercise class at the Y with you, or go shopping with her for the day once a month. Engage her in things her husband will not participate in & invite her other friend to meet you for those things too. By continuing to support her, & omitting him to save yourself from the misery, you can be a good friend to her. You cannot control him, but you can invite her to see her girlfriends, and hope she will accept the offers. Until the husband reconciles and seeks help for his core issues, his behavior will continue. In the meantime, she may need support even though she isn’t verbalizing it now. Good luck.

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  3. Michelle says:

    My thinking here is if you really want to pursue the relationship with your friend, you can either, invite her out for some “girl time” with her ( ie, get a manicure together, go “shopping”- in other words do things he wouldn’t want to go to), communicate and make it clear that you want to spend time with “just the two of you” or learn to accept this codependent situation with her husband, and create a relationship with him too.

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  4. Debbie says:

    So many can relate to this and that’s sad. I lived with this behavior growing up with my dad. He’s mellowed with age, but that experience didn’t make me too keen on marriage! Yes I’d rather be alone than live with a man like that. More thoughts, but that’s the essence of what I’m feeling right now. Very sad situation indeed. I pray for women in abusive relationships.

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  5. ZB WonderWoman says:

    My friends were there for me during my marriage (short) and ensuing divorce (long); in return, I was there for them when their relationships went sideways. Friendship isn’t for the faint of heart, but it’s worth the struggle. Eventually your friend will come around. Or she won’t. Either way, she treasures your friendship and knows she has someone in her corner.

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  6. nana says:

    I guess this way of life is common for women. This sounds like my husband of 17 yrs. I had a son who was in 9th grade when we met. He, I thought was a perfect role model. In fact they were great together. We-together had a son 6 years later. He worked for the same company 17 yrs, stable I thought-wrong! It was his brother a VP in this company. Verbal abuse,mental abuse and alcoholism throughtout his family of 7 siblings. Which was hidden carefully. My husband never worked a full yr, never took a vacation with us and how did he get away with this, just being careful and never socializing with me at all. while my husband was drinking and hunting his lovely sibling was stealing his life away and mine too- forgery! My friends allienated me as well. In fact our biological son is growing up dislikeing his father as well. My oldest son marrried a girl who make’s my husband look like a kitten. I’m a extremely loving person and I considered her a daughter that I never had untill she had an arguement with my son and came after me punching me in my back and knocking me down then she lie about everything-still does. Now my son is in such a bad place in his life it’s hard to take care of my problems. But I am I’m looking forward to a divorce and trying to stop this isolation phase in my life that’s laste 10 yrs. You see things can get worse. what women fear is being alone or financial poverty. everyone that I went to gave me hope and did nothing to help, but my mom, who just passed away. In her memory I will make my life better and try to be a strong person like she was.

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    • Geri says:

      Hi Nana,

      i was sad to read your story, but happy that you seem to have figured out what you need to do now. I agree that women fear being alone or becoming impoverished, but putting up with abuse is not worth all the money in the world. And it’s far better being alone than with someone who makes you feel so bad. I hope your son gets his life back on track and knows you are there for him.

      Fondly,
      Geri

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  7. FindingMe says:

    @ronbar18 & CJ You are both right. As a woman married for 30 years to “That Man”, I need my friends more than ever. I know exactly what he is like, but I also know that he has health issues that aren’t visible, so the choice to walk away and let him struggle alone seems far more cruel than the pain of staying.

    I want to find ways to see my friends, and will try to meet them w/o him, but often I need ideas and encouragement to find ways to do that. I also need their “mirror” of me, because the one he presents daily is of a woman who is unworthy of friends, someone they would rather ignore.

    And, when my friends ignored me, it simply reinforced that ugly image he shared daily. I stopped trying to be around my friends because I thought they were ashamed to be with me. I am working on changing that by reconnecting with some friends, but the process is very difficult.

    You wouldn’t abandon a friend with an unpleasant illness, so please don’t abandon the friend who is alone (despite the presence of a parter).

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  8. Debbie Martin says:

    I was that woman once, too, and believe me, it’s no fun for your friend. She may be managing in survival mode and while she knows things are not right, can’t emotionally access that knowledge due to fatigue from being in that survival mode.

    What got me to wake up was a friend telling me just how she saw me. I wish I could remember her words, but among other vivid and desperate descriptions, she said that she saw no love in our home. That really woke me up.

    The best thing is to tell your friend how you experience her when you’re together, and hope that puts a bee in her bonnet. It takes courage to leave a man who wants to isolate you, so be patient and please, stay present, for her.

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  9. CJ says:

    ronbar18, Amen. He may make you uncomfortable, but is he your friend? No? Remember who is, And realize that if this is her life she needs you in hers more than ever. You may not get together often, but just being there for her is, well, what friends should do.
    I have a few very, very dear friends who never let my ex drive them away. They mean more to me than I can ever express.

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  10. ronbar18 says:

    Hi,
    As someone who is in a similar marriage, I would urge you not to give up on your friend. I’m certain she is aware of her husband’s shortcomings and has her reasons for staying. However, your friendship with her should not be determined by her husband’s behavior. She is not responsible for her husband’s behavior and if you are true friends, you will find a way to get together with her at alternate locations. Anyone in such a relationship, needs to know they have the support of some good friends. Don’t judge her by what he is or does.

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  11. Norma Byrd says:

    Momz – PLEASE don’t wait too long. The sooner you can move on with your life the happier you’ll be, The years are too short to put off what you and your exceptional daughter deserve. My only regret was not making my move years sooner.

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  12. Momzworkin says:

    I read the description of your friend’s husband and wondered how in the world you had seen inside my home to so aptly describe the man I live with. You must know us both-I hope you do-or I have been living in the vortex for so long I didn’t know there were others out there like me. When we started dating ,what seemed serious and secure is now, 13 years later, pessimistic and closed off. His sarcasm has driven us to marriage counseling, which he attended the compulsory four visits then announced it was all just a “bitch session about him.” I came into the marriage after 5 years of dating with a 10 year old daughter thinking, since he had 2 of his own, that he would fill the gap of her missing-on-purpose biological father. When his sarcasm started being aimed at her I set aside my own battered self-esteem and grew into a Mama Bear-shaming him into redirecting his negativity. She will never be able to view him as a father figure, my Dad stepped into that role. She will remember the mean natured guy who thought his two daughter’s could do no wrong (despite several arrests, DUI’s, theft charges, etc..) and that she, a great student and currently pre-med, was never good enough.
    I am still in this marriage, but I do have an exit strategy, a wonderful support network including my family, and will make the move OUT of this marriage to the man you described as soon as I can. My daughter and I deserve more. He lied about who he was while we were dating-admittedly. It was all about “The Chase” and I am sure your girlfriend was fooled by this man too. Please try to see her as much as you can away from her husband. She needs you-she needs someone to emulate-someone who’s real in her life to inspire her to get herself freed.

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  13. Donna says:

    Firstly, if he doesn’t love himself, he doesn’t know how to love, and doesn’t love her fully either. He is most likely using her as his “boost my ego” crutch, which never lasts more than a few hours. He obviously needs medical help, which she can’t give.

    Secondly, if you explain this to her and share your feelings about him, you will become the bad guy in the end and your friendship will be over. She has to wake up and admit his behavior is abnormal on her own.

    So, it’s you that has the choice to make. You can either continue the uncomfortable visits (which will become less frequent), or you can tell her why you won’t be coming by any longer and maybe give her the nudge she needs to escape his depressive lifestyle. The best case scenario would be for you, and your other friend that feels the same way, to invite her to lunch, both tell her your decision to not visit again and tell her why you have both made that decision. Strength in numbers. It should, at least, give her something to think about.

    This is one of those, “damned if you do and damned if you don’t”, situations. Good Luck!

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    • Geri says:

      Hi Donna, the visits aren’t so numerous so I’m probably better off leaving well enough alone.

      Geri

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  14. Norma Byrd says:

    OH MY. When I read this description I thought you must be talking about ME 22 years ago. You so aptly described my EX husband in every way. Yes, he did love me, but he was all those other things plus a stand-up alcoholic. I took it for 37 years and decided my life could and should be better. When I realized (with pschyiatric help) that I was being emotionally abused and that I was also being an enabler, I filed for divorce, and that was one of the happiest days of my life. It was not without trepidation for an unknown future instead of the one I had planned on and hoped for, but I saw it as a positive adventure, which it was and still is 22 years later. I wish the best for your friend, and maybe she’ll wake up one day and realize her life also could and should be better.

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    • Geri says:

      Hi Norma,

      After 37 years, it must have taken an exceptional amount of courage to leave. How wonderful that you did. Thank you greatly for sharing this with us all. If even one woman has the strength to leave an abusive situation, we’ve done a good thing.

      Geri

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  15. Blue Bear says:

    If the friend won’t leave this man who is insufferable to all but her, you have nothing to do but withdraw from the friendship. You cannot sacrifice all you believe in to help her if she will not help herself. We suffer all sorts of deaths in our life and this is one of them. I lost my best friend of decades because I did not tell her that her husband was having an affair. I strongly believe that none of us knows what occurs in a home once that front door is closed. For that reason, I did not tell my friend about her husband and I refused to be the person responsible for breaking up a marriage when I didn’t even see the husband with another woman but only heard about it. For all I knew, this might have been a one night stand or even agreed to by my friend and her husband! As we grow older, we learn to stay out of other people’s business. It’s a wise choice!

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  16. Amy G says:

    I have known women like this — I’ve BEEN this woman — and usually there is some kind of payoff for her: the fact that he wants her all to himself makes her feel desirable, she’s a peace-at-any-price kind of person who will put up with anything from her mate, etc. In fact, there’s a saying that in relationships, “The horns on his head fit the holes in hers” — we are with somebody, and stay with/put up with somebody, for a reason — often a reason that makes no sense to others. Bringing it up to the friend probably wouldn’t do any good because she’s not blind: she knows how he is, and she knows how it affects others. If she wanted to do something about it — or were able to — she would have already done so.

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    • Geri says:

      Hi Amy,

      your comment is exceptionally insightful. I especially adore the comment about the horns and the holes in their heads.

      Geri

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    • Geri says:

      Hi Amy,

      your comment is exceptionally insightful. I especially adore the comment about the horns and the holes in their heads.

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