This is something that has just happened, and I’m still…I don’t know, to be honest. I’d say shocked, but I might be over-reacting, so I thought I would submit it.
My husband and I live in a different country in Europe to our families, but can drive there in a day. So at Christmas, we drove up for a week with his family, then drove back for New Year because he had to work.
His close friend Dick, and Dick’s wife Jane, were to spend New Year with us. The plan was to pick them up on the way home (they live in his family’s country), they’d stay a couple of days then catch a train back.
So we have a lovely Christmas, which is particularly important because my husband’s family has had a truly terrible year. Most recently, his little sister (teenager) was diagnosed with cancer. It’s a very difficult time for all of them, and I know my husband has found being away from them all even harder. This is also relevant to what comes later; all my husband’s friends know about this.
We arrive at Dick and Jane’s on the way home and stay overnight during which time Dick does something Jane finds unacceptable. Suffice to say that we wake up to her screaming that she wants a divorce, she has had enough, etc, as Dick sobs that he loves her. I would also say at this point that I’d leave Dick if he did that to me. Jane, unsurprisingly, then flatly refuses to come to our house for New Year. There is no way she’s coming. After a while, not knowing what else to do, we quietly pack the car, thank them for having us, apologise for being in the way, and go home. On the way home, Dick rings my husband twice. The first is to ask him to turn around and pick them up. The second, 2 seconds later, tells him not to bother, as Jane shouts at him for asking the first time.
So we’re concerned for Dick & Jane, and sorry this has happened, and then at work the next day my husband gets a text. It says, “Jane is divorcing me but I have booked tickets so we’re still coming.” Er…what? They’re coming to stay after deciding their marriage is over? We’re celebrating New Year not mentioning this?
My husband phones Dick and, despite being a man who doesn’t like discussing his emotions, admits it: he cannot cope with this right now. He is under severe emotional strain, he needs to see in 2014 in a calm atmosphere, and he’s really sorry but he cannot give two angry, hurting people ending their marriage the support they need.
Dick tells him the train’s about to leave!! But don’t worry! They won’t mention it! They’ve agreed to act normally the whole time, he understands, blah blah.
My husband phones me, stressed and bewildered. I tell him it’s fine, then get ready to paste on the Stepford face, because the hotels are full, they don’t know anyone in our country, and we are stuck, so what matters is that my husband is ok. And I do paste on the Stepford face. I’m a bit on edge, as Jane makes the odd pointed comment and Dick is embarrassingly sheepish, but overall we are ok. We manage to have some fun. We don’t mention their marriage, and we see them off after New Year hoping they can sort it out…and then, once they get home, Dick reveals to my husband that he and Jane had already made up before he bought the tickets down.
In other words, when he sent that text about her divorcing him, he was lying. He was just pushing drama – which is fine if he gets off on that, but his stupid drama created more stress for my husband at the worst possible time. And what really gets me is that even after my husband confessed his private distress to Dick, Dick didn’t tell him the truth. He actually kept it going rather than say, “Look, it’s ok, we have sorted it out.”
In fairness to Jane, I don’t think she knew anything about this. And in fairness, I know that to some people this will not seem very important – it won’t be important to me either a few months down the line, no doubt – so perhaps I am over-reacting and being over-protective. I will accept it if people think so, but right now I would give a lot to stand in front of Dick and demand to know how he could do anything so selfish, stupid and uncaring.
Fortunately my SIL is expected to make a full recovery. 0103-14
There are epiphany moments in one’s life when you realize the people perhaps closest to you do not have the depth of character you thought they did. When push comes to shove, when the rubber meets the road, they are not there for you at all. Your husband, understandably, did not want a holiday during which he acted as referee between two warring spouses. Dick doesn’t appear to have much problem offending his wife with selfish behavior and your husband’s “close friendship” with Dick wasn’t enough to dissuade Dick from his course of action. Don’t Jane off the hook either. Throwing a world class scream fit in front of house guests is selfish and lacks any sense of restraint or decorum. What should have happened is that Jane and Dick informed you both that their plans to travel back to your country with you will have to be delayed or canceled due to something having come up that requires immediate attention and once you were on the road home, they could have had a spectacular row in the privacy of their home.
I don’t think you had many options in dealing with these people other than a very direct, “Turn around and go home. You are not welcome here right now.” But saying that would be difficult for most people to do so gritting one’s teeth, putting on the “Stepford Wives” face and making the best of a bad situation was about as good as can be expected.