DEAR HARRIETTE: One of my girlfriends confided in me that she is having marital struggles. I felt bad for her. Clearly, she is going through a tough time. I did my best to listen well and to talk less, but in the end, I told her that I have been having my own struggles, and if we are being honest, a few of our mutual friends have had some ups and downs of late. I didn’t say this to diminish her personal issues, but it is true that for those of us who have been married for a few years (some for more than 10), stuff comes up. I didn’t have any grand solution for her other than to say that I know, in my case, we just keep working at it. Do you think I let her down by telling my story and letting her know that she’s not alone? I think she was hoping that there was some miracle advice I could give her that would heal her wounds. -- Marital Bliss, Albuquerque, New Mexico
DEAR MARITAL BLISS: When friends are in pain, of course you want to help them feel better. When it comes to marriage, there is no playbook to follow. That said, it can be comforting to know that others share your experience. Even if your friend didn’t seem to want to hear about how directly connected your experience may be to hers, it may give her a bit of perspective.
Marriages that last must weather emotional storms. For most couples, every single day is not blissful. Instead, there can be any number of conflicts that arise that have to be faced. It was good for you to let your friend know that she is not alone. Couples do sometimes have difficulties. Recommend to her that they go to couples counseling. What you should not do is attempt to be a surrogate counselor yourself. Stay a supportive friend.