My husband and I (both 35) have been together for 7 years and married for 5. He has two older brothers that he isn't particularly close with. The one person he is very close to is his cousin Aaron. They lived together after my husband graduated college, he was the best man at our wedding and Aaron even lived with us for a year while we were married so he could finish school.
I like Aaron a lot. He has felt like a brother-in-law to me, much more than my actual in-laws have ever felt. My husband and I have had a rough three years. Between COVID, there was a point where both of our fathers were in terrible health.
We've dealt with infertility issues, and sadly, in July, we had a stillbirth at 34 weeks pregnant. And Aaron has been there for us through all of that. He is probably the person my husband can lean on the most for support.
Last night, I get a call from Aaron's longtime girlfriend Jennifer. She asked if it was okay if she could come over and have some girl talk with me. Jennifer and Aaron have been together about as long as my husband and I have. She has three kids from a previous relationship, and we love them. They spend the night at our house, and her older kids dog sit for us.
She comes over and proceeds to tell me some serious problem she has had with Aaron, and she is at a loss at what to do. The main crux of her issues are, Aaron is in an insane amount of debt and has basically used her as a place to crash for 7 years.
He is constantly criticizing her for her parenting saying she "babies" her teenage children. And finally, he's lying about where is going, and his locations have him at a 'romantic' massage place.
I hate to say that the financial issues and the parenting issues, I already vaguely knew about. Even my husband and I have called Aaron out about how he talks about the teenagers. But, I had no idea how bad it was.
We talked through it and I flat out asked her "if he is going to a 'romantic' massage parlor behind your back, would you still stay with him?" And she said yes. So, I gave her some advice about boundaries and talking to him and I left it at that. After she left, I went upstairs and told my husband what she said.
He proceeds to have a complete breakdown. He is in tears. I finally get him to talk and he starts saying things like "can I just have one person in my life that I can trust", "I can't go to my brothers to talk, and now I can't trust Aaron because I know he's been doing this s@*t", "he's f*^%ing better than this". Just completely and utterly destroyed.
I feel terrible! I didn't even think about it when I told him what Jennifer said. I didn't even think that it could ruin their relationship. Aaron is the only person he goes to for advice and really looks up to as a big brother. And I just completely destroyed that image.
I'm going with the classic "pretend it didn't happen" technique this morning. But I just feel like I completely took away the one family member who he felt comfortable turning to for emotional support. The f*&k do I do.
"Why do you think you f*&^ed up?"
Honestly, because of my husband's reaction. The minute I realized he was breaking down and crying, in my head I was thinking "S#*t. S%*t. S&*t. Oh, I f**&ed up." I just felt so horrible that I made him upset. And I know it wasn't me, it was what Aaron did that upset him. But maybe it's the former catholic in me. I am programed to look inward for blame lol!
"Is Aaron your husband's only friend"
No, we actually have a great group of friends who are very much our "chosen family" to us. Aaron is his cousin and the only family member he is really close too. We have a good relationship with his parents and siblings, but they've never been close. He's also the youngest of all the grand-kids.
His cousins are all at least five years older than him. So there was never anyone in his family he was close with growing up. He and Aaron got closer in college and it felt like he finally had that person who understood their family that he could confide in.
"Why aren't you in therapy?"
Oh don't you worry! We are in ALL the therapy. When our baby died we got into group therapy, couples therapy, and individual therapy. Our couples therapist has been trying to get us to focus on things to look forward to again.
Simple things like going out to dinner, going on a trip, etc... We are unfortunately in a real negative head space these days. Which I think is the other reason he had such a big reaction.
My husband and I both work from home. I tried my hardest to avoid the subject about Aaron and Jennifer. Then while I was in the shower, he came in the bathroom and said "by the way, yes, I am still p*%$ed about Aaron." F*&k.
We went out to dinner last night. I did apologize to him. Not exactly "I'm sorry I told you", more like "I'm sorry that happened". He said "you have absolutely nothing to apologize for. I am p*%$ed off at Aaron." Paranoid me said "You sure you aren't mad at me at ALL?"
My husband said "I am about 1% mad at you." I did tell him that there were more s$#@ty things Aaron has done that I didn't get a chance to tell him because he got so upset. I asked him if he wants to know that stuff. To which he said "not now, maybe another night." We enjoyed our steaks and chilled for the evening.
I don't know what is going to happen moving forward. He is very insistent that he is not going to reach out to Aaron. And Aaron still has no idea Jennifer talked to us or that my husband knows all the s$*t Aaron has done. Maybe he will wake up tomorrow in a different timeline! Where no bad things ever happen! We can all dream, right?
Uhh AARON f*^%ed up his own image. This isn't on you.
Yep. And the way OP’s husband reacted is a big green flag imo - the way this was framed I thought it would be the opposite. You got a good one OP.
Yeah I don't see how you f*^%$d up here. You did everything right IMO.
So the alternative to this f^%k up was what, exactly? You lie to your husband about his best friends behavior? Aaron f*$#ed up, not you.
Hey OP, I know this is a lousy situation to be in, but please don't add self-blame to the pile of emotions you're probably feeling right now. The person who ruined your husband's friendship with Aaron is Aaron. Your husband sounds really hurt and distraught by Aaron's choices, and he's probably dealing with the moral injury of finding out one of his closest friends has these cruel and selfish tendencies.
It sounds like you are a great friend to your husband and it also sounds like Jennifer is a great friend of yours, not just Aaron. You haven't wronged anyone, you just helped a friend and you communicated openly with your husband about Aaron.
Well this made me cry. Thank you. I just don't want my husband any more hurt than he already is.
This isn’t anything you need to feel guilt about. Honestly though, if they’re friends, you husband should be willing to put his arms around Aaron, and help him see the errors he’s making. Reddit is always full of people who say “if they loved you, they wouldn’t treat you so bad.” The truth is that we’re all horrible people. We all make mistakes and need forgiveness.
Loving another person can never be “never hurting someone” in all actuality it is “always being willing to seek and give forgiveness freely.” Remind him that Aaron is only human, and needs his cousin to love and support him right now. This is what friendship is.