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What can I do about my home-wrecking friend?

The Yomiuri ShimbunDear Troubleshooter:

I’m a woman in my 40s. I have an unmarried friend who’s a home-wrecker because she had an affair with a man who then divorced. Now she says she’s going to marry him. I’m worried.

My friend has a mental illness and has taken turns for the better and worse while working. As she was struggling, she met this man. She is apparently doing the best she can for her future.

When they first met, the man was married, but things at home had cooled down for him. As he had no children, my friend created opportunities to see him, and they started dating. He subsequently divorced. A few years after that, my friend is now going to marry him.

My friend had an affair with another married man. When she once confessed it to me, she said I was talking to her in an admonishing tone, which made her give up on him. This is the second time, though, and she followed the exact same pattern as the first time. That’s why she said she hesitated talking to me.

When I heard about this second affair, I stopped contacting her. But when I heard through the grapevine that she is about to marry, I felt conflicted about the whole thing.

I want to be happy for her, but her lover also has a mental illness and doesn’t have a job. I’m worried how they’ll get by. I guess I can only watch over them?

N, Osaka Prefecture

Dear Ms. N:

I guess if we define a “home-wrecker” as someone who goes out with someone knowing they’re already married and causes that marriage to fall apart, then your friend fits that definition. And now she’s going to take him for her own.

However, I think in the case of your friend, it seems the man’s marriage was already falling apart before she came along, so I’m not sure if “home-wrecker” is the right word. Hmm ... but if your friend factored into the divorce in some way, I guess that word does fit.

I’m wondering what exactly you view as the problem with your friend. I suppose you see the home-wrecker aspect as a problem.

You also seem to have concerns about your friend’s livelihood.

While I admire you worrying about your friend, I also feel your friend is an adult. As such, if she considered various aspects of her situation and still came to the conclusion of marriage, then I think the role of third-parties is to keep their mouths shut, wouldn’t you agree?

However, as a friend, I think you are within your rights to voice your concerns about her getting married, and express your own opinion on the matter.

You mentioned how you remonstrated with her about her first affair. Why not take a stab at doing it once again? If she still doesn’t change her mind, then I think you are quite right in thinking you can only watch over her.

Soichiro Nomura, psychiatrist

(from Nov. 27, 2017, issue)Speech

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