First of all: don’t. But if you’re really, really certain you want to broach this subject, here’s what to do.
You want what’s best for your buddy. You can see that his marriage is making him sad, scared, and tense, all things that he’s never been before. And you love him, so you figure that the best way to help is to say what’s apparent. “You need to get a divorce.”
There’s only one thing you should know: this is a dumb idea.
“You can’t,” says Dr. Robyn Landow, psychologist in New York City. Your advice might be spot-on, but it won’t be heard. For one, you’re not giving him a revelation – he’s aware of his life. Telling him something he knows and telling him what to do doesn’t make him want to do it. That approach has never made anyone want to listen.
Your directness also doesn’t start a conversation. Instead, it starts an argument. Rather than say, “You’re right,” he’ll play defense, trying to prove how you don’t understand anything about his situation, says Silvia Dutchevici, a licensed clinical social worker and president of Critical Therapy Center.
The other problem is the intrinsic nature of anything blunt. It’s good for clear-cutting, not so much for detail work. And one truism of relationships is no matter how obvious anything seems, it’s impossible to know what happen between two people, Landow says. Along with being premature and simplistic, your six-word advice is dangerous to you. There’s a good chance that they don’t divorce, but you’ll forever be the guy who unequivocally said that they should. His wife won’t forget and the relationship with your buddy is forever tainted.
Plus, it’s his marriage. “Divorce changes the whole architecture of his life,” says Dr. Susan Albers, psychologist at the Cleveland Clinic. There are plenty of reasons why he’s rightfully hesitant. He doesn’t want to be single. The situation is bad, but it’s the situation he knows. Divorce isn’t cheap. And everything intensifies when children…