Should you tell a friend that they shouldn’t marry someone?

Should you tell a friend that they shouldn’t marry someone?

I really feel like I won the lottery when it comes to my wife.  I say this because I can’t imagine anyone better for me.  I also say this because we got married at a relatively young age and even though we’ve both changed over the last 16 years, we still love being together.

I have no idea if any of our friends didn’t think it would last.  They certainly didn’t say anything to either of us and if they had it would not have been received well.

I was thinking of this the other day as I was on a sparsely occupied flight back to Chicago.  There was a 20 something couple occupying three seats in the row across from me.  The girl was attractive and had a positive attitude to herself.  The guy?  Not so much.  He walked on to the flight after her and had a noticeably grumpy look to him.

I was watching them during the wait to take off and through the flight.  In that time I saw him tell her no when she asked if she could look at his magazine.  She later asked him to get something from her bag which turned out to be some chips.  He literally threw them at her.  It appeared for a second that she was going to cry.  30 minutes later he was cuddling with her and giving her kisses.  Thirty minutes after that he was snapping at her.  When the flight landed he walked ahead of her, leaving her to carry two bags while he had just a back pack.

Now this was just a snap shot of their life of course and there are certainly times that if you saw just a snap shot of me that you’d think I’m the worst husband and father in the world.  But looking at this girl, I saw no self esteem and wanted to tell her that her boyfriend treats her like crap and that she should love herself and not take that garbage.  Of course to say something like this while on a plane could potentially be a disaster and it’s really none of my business.

But what if this was a friend of mine?  Or a friend of yours?  We all have friends that we know have terrible marriages and/or know people that we could have told them years ago that they were marrying the wrong person.  Should you ever speak up and tell them not to get married at all?

I can’t imagine this conversation ever going too well.  If your friend/relative gets married despite your advice, that could certainly put a strain on the relationship.  Now if one of my kids wanted to get married at 18 or 19, I’d tell them they were out of their minds.  But if I knew that would make them never talk to me again then I would bite my tongue and hope for the best.  Sometimes people just have to learn on their own.

So am I just a conflict avoider or does anyone think that you should tell a friend or loved one not to marry someone?  What’s the threshold here?  I’m guessing for me it would have to be a safety issue, but what if you just know that their fiancé is not a good person?  Would love to hear your thoughts. 

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  • You know it's ironic this subject should come up now, at this minute. Long story short, I had this experience 4 years back with a family member. I was asked for "my opinion", that I gave reluctantly. I stated my case for why they shouldn't marry. I ended up being the "jerk" in the end and wasn't talked to for a long time. Now that marriage is on the rocks. I've learned to keep my opinions to myself.

    I too feel like I've won the lottery Michael. 23 years next month. We're (you and I) blessed.

  • Yeah, anyone who asks you for your opinion is probably fishing for a compliment, not the truth. If they really want to know what you think then they probably know it's not a good idea to get married.

  • Nope, you really can't say anything, or at least nothing direct. It's an interesting question I've thought a lot about. My cousin married a guy who was a loser in every sense of the word (no job, misogynistic, ignorant, hateful, etc). When they were dating, she had expressed some serious doubts to me, which gave me an opening to gently and obliquely suggest that maybe such doubts meant she shouldn't be in the relationship. She wasn't thrilled with me but thankfully didn't seem too put out. Of course, she decided to marry the guy anyway. 16 months and one baby later it comes out he's been abusing her physically, emotionally, and sexually. She is now in a prolonged divorce and custody battle. Her parents have spent nearly $20K to help her fight him for custody. He's been nothing but nasty and, frankly, insane throughout the whole process. Many times my cousin has said to me "If only I hadn't married him..." and I've wondered if I should have just come out and said he was wrong for her right from the start. But even if I had, she wouldn't have listened. She had a variety of reasons for acting the way she did, and nothing I could have said would have changed that. Instead, it might have destroyed our relationship, and she wouldn't have come to me for help when she did finally realize what a scum he was.

  • I think you can voice doubts in a gentle way without telling someone what to do. Anything agressive will be ignored and met with more aggression. I have a friend who was engaged to a guy that I thought was a sweet-talking tool. She asked my opinion over lunch and I simply told her something to the effect of "honestly, from what I've seen, I don't trust him. Obviously you know him better than I do, but it does worry me and maybe you should take a little more time before you decide to marry him." (She'd broken off an engagement to another guy just 6 months before). She disagreed, she married him, they divorced two years later. We're still friends, I never gave her the "i told you so" treatment, and she never seemed to hold my opinions against me. Every friendship is different, but because I love her, I didn't want to lie to her or give her bad advice.

    In the end, whatever you do should ensure a solid friendship because that's what will matter in the hard times that are inevitable for anyone's life - marriage-related or not.

  • My daughter is engaged to someone who treats her just as described above (the couple on the plane). Once I had been around him enough to realized what he was like, I very honestly and lovingly told her what I saw. Of course she freaked. However, she now has her mother's true feelings there, in her consciousness, helping her look at the guy and their relationship from more than one perspective.

    Its very important to be lovingly honest with those you care about. Its part of treating them with love and respect. And, how can those who perhaps do not love themselves enough to treat themselves with respect, learn to do so, if even their mothers are not treating them with love and respect.

    A catch-22 that can only be solved with loving, heartfelt honesty.

  • For any advice, you should only consult. You live your life and you make decisions by yourself. Happiness will come to anyone who esteems it.

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