Monday, October 27, 2008

Wedge Emotional Politics

I have a mate called Fanta who has recently split up with his wife, Sarong. They've been married for 15 years, together for 19 years. No infidelity or nothin' (and no kids either)... just an old fashioned split-up with a garnishing of 'midlife crisis'. He instigated it and left her.

Anyway, I've known Fanta since we were about 5 years old (neighbours as kids) so obviously, I get him in the divorce. Right now, because it's fresh, there's tears and frustrations but no anger from either of them, but that's possibly still to come. But already there's some positioning going on. He came down to stay with me on the weekend, and a couple of days before he arrived, Sarong emailed me with words to this effect...

"I'm worried about him, please talk to him and counsel him, please don't tell him I emailed you, I'll be really upset if you tell him I emailed you, and please report back to me how it all goes."

I did two things. Firstly, I emailed her straight back with words to this effect.

"I have been friends with Fanta for 35 years so I'm not going to hide anything from him, ever, and nor will I spy on him for you. I wish you all the best though. "

Then I forwarded Sarong's email to Fanta.

Which of course caused a kerfuffle.

Fanta tells me that I am not the only one she has emailed. Now in my case, my allegiance is simple, but they have many friends that they met as a couple who don't have an allegiance either way. Sarong has been conctacting all of them, and Fanta claims she is attempting a pre-emptive strike of sorts, or a kind of wedge politics. Right now, their mutual friends are in contact with both both of them, but if it gets nasty... there'll be splits. Often, there just has to be.

Because he left her and not the other way around, he is not in the position to play this wedge politics game, but he also doesn't want to lose friends. Right now, everyone is being adult but it'll happen, sure as the day is bright, that friendships will be burned and sides will be taken.

He asked me to blog on this so as to save money on counselling / travel fees to Jerry Springer Show for, "My Ex Wife Stole All Our Mutual Friends".

An experiences / advice?


Puss In Boots said...

From my third-party experience in this type of matter (my parents are divorced), it was the one who left who lost all the mutual friends. In this case, it was my mother. She got to keep the friends she'd known before the marriage, but generally the ones my father and her met as a couple stayed with him.

I think it has to do with sympathy, and also feeling some sort of moral obligation to go with the person who appears to be the "better" person. No one likes to align themselves with someone they think has acted poorly.

I do think the wife emailing all the friends and asking them to spy on her husband was a bit low, however. Although I agree with your email back to her, I probably wouldn't have forwarded the email on. I wouldn't have wanted to get involved.

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

Ohh, tricky.

My first thought is "thank fuck they don't have kids".

And sorry to hi-jack your post Pers, but while we're asking for feedback, I have discovered I have the power to install the new comment form thingo.

What say you, comrades.

Desci said...

Pers, I agree with what you did.

Another way to look at it: quite often, friends choose sides on who they prefer. Yes, it sucks that Gary took Sarong's side, but maybe Gary just preferred Sarong's company to Fanta's. And vice versa with Kevin.

It's what I've done in the past, who instigated the break up and how doesn't really come into it. Unless it was a really cunty break up (years of affairs, domestic abuse, etc) but even that just means I lose respect for the cunty one, ergo still side with the one I prefer.

Very, very, very seldom do you like each member of a couple equally. Think about it.

Perseus said...

I totally agree with all of that Desci.

...and further, in this case, there was no cunty behaviours, just a general malaise.

I also agree with you (and not Puss) that I did the right thing in forwarding the email, because when I split up with Andromeda 3.0, if I found out one of my long-standing friends (that I knew beforehand) had withheld an email from me I'd be fuming.

Puss, I agree with everything else you said, and Ramon, I prefer it the way it is because I can't cope with technological change.

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

I also have the power to smite the ungodly and people who displease me on this blog.

How cool is that?

Puss In Boots said...

Hmm, good point Desci. I didn't stop to think that it might just be because my mother is intensly irritating!

However, I have a friend who I've known for 20 years, and I think I would probably choose to stay friends with his wife rather than him if he did leave her, because even though he is my oldest friend, she is a lovely person, and if he left her, my opinion of him would decrease substantially. So I guess that goes some way to backing up my hypothesis.

Louche said...

I usually pick the person I like/know better. Sometimes that's the person I knew first, sometimes not.

I like to stay friends with everyone though so I wouldn't have sent the email. But I also wouldn't have reported back.

My name is fence sitter.

wari lasi said...

I just hope none of the Fanta gets spilt on the Sarong. It's a bitch to get out.

Firstly Perseus, you're being loyal to a mate. She was being sneaky and, by asking you to not tell him about the email, trying to get you to side with her, or at least to have surreptitious contact with her. Lucky there's no kids because she sounds like the type who wouldn't be able to resist involving them and trying to poison them against their old man.

How's this for a dilemma? I got an email this morning from my daughter. Not Emma, the older one (16) who I'll call CM. She's worried about her Mum (the venerable Mrs L) and leaving the topic alone she says:

Please don't tell her I sent this email. I know you have this weird thing with telling her everything I say, but I don't want her to know. It was a chat between me and her.

She's a big girl now and I'll respect her wish. But should I?

squib said...

What's the new comment thingo Ramon?

I have a great little application where I can give commenters a yellow card, or even a red one

Anonymous said...

Perseus, is Fanta a redhead?

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

Squib, it's a new application the blogger people have developed, whereby the comments box pops up at the bottom of the comments page rather than on an entirely new page.

Pers, you did the right thing in not spying on your friend.

If Fanta is worried about losing contact, he needs to spend a nice, tactful email to said friends; explaining why he left and saying he hopes they can still stay in touch but he would understand if this didn't happen.

Perseus said...

Nah, he's not a redhead. He actually calls himself Fanta for reasons only he knows. He has however got a stupid beard and has started growing his hair long and he looks like Benny from ABBA. We went to the Local Pub on Saturday night and looked very, very gay.

Wari - all traditional rules are out the window when it comes to kids in a divorce. My advice: Do whatever is best for your kid.

squib said...

Ramon I think the comments sit very nicely where they are

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

Fair enough, squib.

Vox populi, vox dei, I always say.

patchouligirl said...

Ramon - put the comment box wherever you like, I'll find it.
Wari - its fine to keep a harmless secret with your daughter. Its called trust - how fortunate you are she feels she can confide in you!!
As for the break up - This happened to me with my first marriage; the blame for the break up was distributed evenly and it was very amicable, but I was the one who walked first. He ended up in a relationship with someone from our circle of friends and I moved 80km away so he got all the friends and I never heard from any of them again. 7 years later he got leukaemia and was dead in 6 months. Meanwhile I made new friends, remarried and had a baby. My only advice is to move on, wallowing in what was and what might have been is a waste of precious time. I would have sent the email on too just so he knows what games she is up to but at the end of the day he will remember their years together fondly I hope as its a large chunk of lifes journey to spend with someone.

Melba said...

A similar thing happened to me. I got a phone call from the partner of my friend, and he asked me if she'd been saying things about him to me. Of course she fucking had, she wasn't happy etc. But I told him I couldn't discuss with him things she and I had spoken about, and that he needed to talk to her about it. And that was that.

I can't remember whether I ever told her, though, that he'd called me.

I think you did the right thing, Perseus. She's got a cheek to try that on, and you've shown integrity to not go along with it.

Re the comment box, I don't mind where it is, but last time with the new one it didn't pick up my name. It seemed harder to use?

Anonymous said...

How about we have the new comment box on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, and the old comment box on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays? Sundays and gazetted public holidays will adopt a first-in first-served basis, providing no more than 6 hours at a stretch shall be devoted to any continuous comment box usage.

All in favour say aye. All against, shut up and go away.

WitchOne said...

Based on the behavior of the ex wife, friends lost to her are friends well lost. As she appears to be.

I liked the new comments box but will not desert you guys if the change is not made.

Maybe we could have shared care? 1 week with the new comments box and 1 week with the old?

catlick said...

Boogey as a past Public Servant I can say your suggestion makes a lot of sense. And as for the post break-up friend allocation, lesbians seem to regard it as an opportunity to change partners. Just sayin'.

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

That's some good work, Boogey.

Can you run it past the Comments Box sub-committee so we can get a proactive, moving forward, front-end briefing for consideration by the Standing Committee on TSFKA COB, PDQ, WTF, KGB, BBQ.

Anonymous said...

Hur hur, you said, "front-end briefing", hur hur.

Sorry, my mind was temporarily transferred to the department for gutter innuendo. Our motto - "Keeping innuendo low-brow for all ratepayers".

Stubbadub said...

I think that we should applaud Ramon for just knowing what a comments box is, let alone how to play with one in his control panel. Thus I feel we should reward his learning a new skill by adopting his suggestion and doing the new comments thing. Sound good?

Melba said...

Only if we get a free tutorial, with some biscuits and tea.

WitchOne said...

As long as my time is paid for, lunch is provided and we drag this shit, ummm, training, session out for at least a week in order to take advantage of maximum time wasting opportunities.

Oh, and we leave early for a pub run at least 4 nights out of the 5.