I own a business with just two employees, my husband and a very old friend. The friend has been in the business for 15 years, and he is critical to running it. My husband has been with me for 11 years, but in the business for only three. He is not critical to running the business.
Their relationship is a constant strain. Neither one likes the other, but they generally tolerate each other. When tensions arise they become emotional, and I end up caught between them, unable to put an end to it.
How do we work and live in peace? Their conflict is affecting the smooth functioning of the business. What should I do to end the hostility? I’m a quiet type, which probably feeds the situation. — Walking on Eggshells
DEAR WALKING ON EGGSHELLS:
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You may be a quiet type, but you are also the boss. The atmosphere you describe is unhealthy for your business. For it to continue to be successful, your business must be nurtured as a separate entity apart from your friendship and your marriage.
Because the present situation makes it difficult for all of you to function together, I’m suggesting that you tell your husband you love him, but either he must get along with the longtime employee or leave the business — because it’s the business that is paying the bills, feeding and putting a roof over all of you.
Don’t feel guilty
A friend, “Wanda,” invited my husband, “Hugh,” and me to a dinner party two years ago. Hugh had too much to drink and insulted not only Wanda but also one of the guests. He apologized the next day.
This is not the first time he has done this at dinner parties, and his behavior has had a negative impact on some of my best friendships. I used to entertain all the time, but I can no longer invite my friends over as they no longer want to be around Hugh.
Wanda continues to invite me to her dinner parties, but has made a point of telling me that Hugh is not invited. Not wanting to lose another friend, I have been going alone. I let my husband know why, and he says it doesn’t bother him, but I feel guilty attending without him. My friendships are important to me and I’m torn about what to do. — Party of One
If your husband can’t control his behavior when he’s had a drink or two, then he should not be drinking in public. That he says it “doesn’t bother him” that he’s no longer welcome in these people’s homes is sad, as it should be a glaring signal that he needs help.
Because he isn’t ready to do something about his problem, continue to socialize without him. That you do is admirable, so please stop feeling guilty about it.
About a year ago, my wife had an affair with one of the instructors at a training seminar. We are working to repair our marriage and are making great strides. She says there’s nothing else going on now.
My wife has been invited to a graduation ceremony where she is to receive an award from the same instructor. This will be the first time I meet this person, and I have mixed feelings about it. How should I approach this meeting? — Mixed Feelings in Missouri
DEAR MIXED FEELINGS:
Do it with cool civility, complete sobriety and as little contact as possible.
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