Best Behavior: Speaking Up

Shut Down

A high-school friend of mine recently moved back to town with her new husband. My husband and I have taken the two of them out to dinner and to a Titans game, but I was alarmed at what I saw happening between the two of them. He took charge in every conversation, no matter what we were talking about. When she tried to speak up, he basically ignored her. She put up with it, but she was not the same girl I grew up with. When I mentioned it to my husband, he said he’d sensed the same thing. We’ve only been together two or three times, so I don’t know if it’s my place to say anything, but quite honestly, I’m afraid for her. What do I do? —Anonymous, The Gulch

You’ve heard precisely what you need to hear, and your husband’s ready to pitch in to verify this toxic relationship.You don’t have to spend any more time in their company, of course. Nobody can get a word in edgewise while he’s holding forth, and who wants to be around a bullish man, bullying his little wife?

Maybe it’s a game they play. But probably not. Your husband might want to shout the man down the next time you’re at dinner, but that might make for more trouble as the night goes on, after you’re long gone.

If you’ve got serious concerns about the husband’s behavior, invite your friend over for coffee. Invite her by phone, not by email or Instagram or — God help us — Facebook. (Messages on social media tend not to go away.) You’ve got every right to talk with her and reach out to see if she wants help.It may accomplish nothing. It may, in fact, blow up your friendship. Or it may send the two of them to a marriage counselor.

You may be wrong, but at least you’ll have tried. If she seems willing to keep you in her life, put the hotline for a domestic abuse agency in your purse. And don’t lose it.

By Degrees

I’m just back from my 30th anniversary college reunion. I went to a small women’s college, and over the years, I’ve seen only a few of the people who graduated with me. Those were not the happiest years in my life, but I figured I’d go anyhow. I have a good career, and I worked hard to stay in shape, but when I got there, I felt totally out of place. When I walked into the first reception, all the bad things that happened to me came back. A woman asked me if I was enjoying myself, and I told her just how I was feeling. I embarrassed myself. I guess I shouldn’t have gone. Right? —Anonymous, Green Hills

On campus, you probably weren’t voted Miss Homecoming — or Miss Personality. If you haven’t been in touch with the other women for the past 30 years, you didn’t need to work on relationships that never happened.

Maybe you finally learned something from your college years. You have my permission to take the diploma down. There’s no reason for it to hang over your head anymore.

Have a question for John? Email him at jbridges@nfocusmagazine.com.