Advicereality check

Reality Check

I have a good friend who is kind of an asshole. Actually he is really an asshole, and I think we’re only friends because we have known each other for a long time and he is not an asshole to me, so I can mostly deal with it. Anyway, “John†is married to “Mary,†and has been for years. Mary is a good friend of my wife, and a very good friend of mine as well. When we all lived in the same city, we would go out together very regularly. We don’t live in the same city anymore, and since we moved, John has only called me once or twice a year and can’t be bothered to email because he is too cool for silly things like computers. So, now I feel a lot closer to Mary than I do to John, since she and my wife and I send each other messages regularly, are friends on Facebook and Bookshelf, etc.

John is still the same guy he has always been: unambitious, unhelpful and snobby. He works for very little money in the same job he has had since we were 25. He is now over 40. Mary has a good job, pays most if not all of their bills and even bought a car for him two years ago. (I would say “they†bought a car, but since it cost more than John makes in a year I think we can all safely assume he wouldn’t have gotten it if he were on his own.) Mary doesn’t drive, and actually prefers to walk to the store and the movies. She takes public transportation to work.

Anyway, John has become increasingly antisocial in the last couple of years. He won’t go anywhere with her, and when he does, he acts like a jerk and a snob, and she ends up embarrassed and leaves early. I have tried to talk to him (when I can get him to pick up the phone). I thought maybe he was depressed, but he insists that he’s fine and then goes off about how dumb all of Mary’s other friends are. I know she would like to move back to where her family is, since she is getting more isolated as she loses more friends because of his behavior. He will not budge. He won’t get a new job, refuses to talk about hobbies or travel. He won’t even come to visit us because he said he hates airplanes.

So, I have now joined what must surely be the swelling ranks of her friends who have suggested giving him an ultimatum and/or leaving him. So, I got an email from him the other day. There were four of us whom he sent it to, all old friends. Mary is leaving him; he is devastated and looking for advice. She wants him out of the apartment but has agreed to give him money for the next two years toward his rent and helping pay for the dog, which she is allowing him to keep. She also agreed to pay all vet bills and the bulk of their savings, which is an enormous amount of money and most of which, obviously, he has not earned. Oh, and the car. She is letting him keep the car. What she wants is just a nice clean break: no lawyers, no fighting, just a parting of ways.

So, after he asked for advice, two of the four people he sent messages to advised him to get a lawyer and talk about alimony, which I think is ridiculous. The other friend wrote a well thought out message that said that maybe he should just take what she is offering and play nice, etc., etc. I told him as gently as I could that I thought she was giving him more than she had to and that maybe he should try to make this as easy as possible on everyone and go quietly. I am not comfortable with the concept of alimony, since he is the one who chose not to get a better job for the last 20 years, and they don’t have kids. He wrote back to all of us that “advice is a lot easier to give than it is to take†and that he can’t afford the car, etc. He is basically telling us that our advice is crap and we don’t know how it is. He’s the one who ASKED for advice!

So, now I don’t know what to do. I am a bit angry, and I actually think Mary would get a better deal if she hired a lawyer because what she is offering him seems way above and beyond. Part of me wants to tell him to go to hell and never speak to him again. What do you think?

Well, I’m not a lawyer, so I actually don’t know anything about what the law says when it comes to unambitious spouses and alimony. (Readers? Anyone have some insight here?) Of course, if John were my friend I would tell him to take what Mary is offering and try to get his life together. Since Mary already has it together, she may want to consult a lawyer just to see what rights he does have.

As far as your friendships with both of these people, it is obvious that you and your wife are closer to Mary for a reason. I don’t think it would be fair for you to completely walk away from John right now, but you should probably try to explain to him how all of this happened and that you all saw it coming a mile away. You might suggest therapy, and if he won’t do that you might at least tell him that he has to be more aware of his actions and attitudes and take some responsifuckingbility for himself. You should, of course, couch it in “I love you, man, but…” With your help, he might realize the connection between his self-important stupidity and the sudden lack of friends and a sugar momma in his life. If he doesn’t want to hear you, then you can walk away. But give him a chance.

Jyl Inov