Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A message to fence-sitters

Imagine the situation. The marriage or relationship of two of your close friends breaks down and one of them leaves. You know in your heart that one of them is desperately wrong and bad because they have been unfaithful, violent or behaved totally unreasonably and the other is innocent and the wronged party.

Yet, you decide to sit on the fence and try to remain friends with both of them. Is that really the right thing to do ? Are you ultimately damaging the whole of society by deciding to stay neutral, as well as potentially losing not one, but two friends. Why don’t you have the guts to come out and say what you really believe and what you know is just and moral?

Consider this, By staying neutral you quite possibly are NOT gaining any respect from either partner, each of whom may well think you are supporting the other if you appear not to condemn an obvious wrong. Breakdown of marriage costs society a lot, both in terms of money and social cohesion. Children are damaged, lives and careers wrecked and homes lost. If you don't speak out and identify the wrong, that partner may well go on to create and later destroy another relationship, the worst case being where two whole families are involved, setting off a chain reaction.

The only ones to benefit from relationship breakups are the lawyers who drive big shiny cars and wear smug smiles. When you walk into their office to chronicle the breakdown of your marriage you may as well be wearing a paper bag over your head with a money symbol on it. I find it hard to believe that they have any interest in you or your problems past their next payday.

By all means tell your friends if you think even the wronged partner bears some blame for the breakdown, they will, more than likely ultimately respect your honesty even if it hurts at the time and may even cause a temporary estrangement between you. Think of it as a test of the strength and quality of your friendship.

For Pete’s sake don’t sit there polishing your halo and thinking you are being ‘fair’ to everyone. Pick up the phone or write an email telling the bad-ass partner what a shit you think they are to treat someone who loves them so badly.

If you think that you can help them get back together and there IS a relationship worth saving there, say so, to both of them. Tell them that they should try to mend that relationship. IMO you will be doing the world far more favours by sitting on the sidelines and watching the circus of financial mediations and fights over kids, pets, homes and the CD collection.

A famous quotation (often attributed to Irish political philospher Edmund Burke) goes “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men and women to do nothing”. Whoever did say it originally I think he or she was probably thinking about war, revolutions and dictators, but it seems to me to apply equally to matters of the heart and personal relationships.


Jude said...

Hi Jenny.
First of all I would also like to send you a friendly hug of support and let you know that I've included you in my thoughts and prayers.

I agree with your post, but have found that most people really don't like taking sides and they think they can still hold on to both friends. My best friend recently broke up with her husband, but it was caused by her infidelity. I am still there to support her though.