Ask Amy: Friends split over husband’s dangerous behavior

Dear Amy: My wife became friends with “Barb,” after Barb and her husband “Jim” moved to our remote community a few years ago.

We spent a lot of time with Barb and Jim.

As we got to know them, it became apparent that Jim is a chronically unemployed habitual liar, a hoarder, a constant weed smoker, and regular drug user. Barb complained about his abuse.

I tolerated Jim so we could be friends with Barb. Barb told us that many of their other friends do the same.

Jim told me that he stalked his wife one night and that he parked outside our house, looking for her.

While the couple fed our pets when we were on vacation, Jim changed the landscaping and décor in our backyard, and they had a party at our house while we were away. We learned about this when we returned home.

My wife and I were relieved when Barb filed for divorce and got a restraining order.

Jim’s best friend warned me one night that my wife and I “might want to get a hotel for the night” because Jim was mad at us over our loyalty to Barb.

My wife and I were terrified, and have since improved our security. We want absolutely nothing to do with Jim ever again.

We supported Barb in her early separation period, and spent time with her.

Now, Barb has taken Jim back and has put the divorce on hold.

Barb does not want to be friends with us if we do not also accept Jim.

My wife is heartbroken and shocked. They were so close, and now there is nothing. What can we do?

— Worried Friends

Dear Worried: “Jim” sounds like a menace. You obviously don’t like him, are afraid of him, and have valid reasons to worry about his behavior.

Jim might be controlling and isolating Barb, and your wife should do what she can to maintain contact with her, through email, texts and calls. This contact should be warm, friendly, and careful (Jim might be monitoring Barb’s phone).

Barb might be willing to spend one-on-one time with your wife, without the pressure of the two couples socializing together, but if you don’t feel safe being embroiled in this marital drama, you should not bow to pressure to spend time with Jim.

Barb has left this relationship once. To try to keep the door open, your wife should make sure that Barb knows that you are not judging her choice, and that you are both available to her whenever she needs you.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline (800-799-7233) offers 24/7 support through a “chat” function on their website: thehotline.org, or through texting START to 88788.

Dear Amy: I consider myself a moderately liberal person.

I live in a conservative state and belong to a church with conservative views.

I don’t wish to project my views onto anyone else.

I believe that extremely liberal people are just as narrow-minded as the conservatives they find fault with. When my conservative friends find fault with any idea that doesn’t coincide with their own narrow-minded beliefs, I say nothing.

I have volunteered for an organization that has decided that they have the right to determine how their employees live and what they should believe. They have fired employees who are in same-sex relationships.

I am debating about continuing to devote my time to that organization.

I could continue to do as I have been doing, and continue to keep my opinion to myself. If I quit, I will be depriving vulnerable people of help.

What to do?

— Tired of Pretending

Dear Tired: Look around. There are many, many secular (and some religious) organizations serving needy people that don’t pry into their employees’ private lives or insist on an anti-LGBTQ stance for those providing or receiving services.

So choose another organization and volunteer there.

And yes, by all means you should write a letter to the head of the local organization, copy it to their national office, and explain why you have decided to take your strength elsewhere.

They are not likely to care, but you might feel better — finally using your voice.

Dear Amy: A reader named “Coached” suggested filming an alcoholic to show them evidence of their impairment.

Although this seems somewhat cruel, a family member finally resorted to filming me. Honestly, viewing the evidence was what it took for me to finally seek help.

— Now Sober

Dear Sober: This is very tough love. I applaud your sobriety.

(You can email Amy Dickinson at [email protected] or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)

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