DEAR ABBY: My friend "Sarah" is married to "Karl," who emotionally abuses her. My husband and I used to spend a lot of time with them, but we have gradually dropped Karl from our circle because we can't tolerate the way he treats her.
Sarah has asked me not to drop her because she has very few friends left. She stays with Karl because she's afraid she'll lose too much financially if they divorce. I have tried to tell her that her happiness should outweigh her desire for material things, but she likes living in her fancy home.
Karl hasn't worked in almost 10 years and does nothing but drink and belittle Sarah. He's also hostile to her adult children, who are fabulous people. If Sarah wants to see her grandchildren, she goes to their home because he doesn't want them around. Abby, this is a career woman who could retire in a few years but probably won't because her work is her escape.
I think Sarah is living a miserable existence. She deserves so much more. I know I'm not being as good a friend as I can be -- and I feel guilty -- but I have lost respect for her. I'm sick of hearing how "he's trying to be better." It's hard to watch someone who chooses to live her one life this way. How can we support her when we can't stand her spouse or understand her reason for staying in a loveless marriage? -- RUNNING SHORT ON SYMPATHY IN TEXAS
DEAR RUNNING SHORT: Much as you might like to, you can't run your friend's life or use your personal yardstick to measure what is important to her. After years of verbal abuse, Sarah's self-esteem may be shaky, and she doesn't feel prepared to take the financial hit that a divorce would cause.
Your friend could use both counseling and legal advice, and if you care about her, you should suggest it. But other than that, if you want to remain friends, my advice is to stop judging her.