Saturday 25 November 2017

Ask Majella: Majella O'Donnell solves your problems

Is my friend suffering in silence about her abusive husband?

Majella O'Donnell
Majella O'Donnell

Advice over concerns a friend's husband is being abusive,

Dear Majella

I'm worried my friend's husband is abusive to her. We've been extremely close my entire life, she's like a sister to me so I know her inside out. She is very quiet about her emotions in general, sometimes it's like getting blood from a stone. But I know that often times she doesn't like to talk about things, so she knows I'm just there for her.

She met her husband on a night out a few years ago and they had a fairly quick engagement and marriage. I've never seen her so smitten with someone, but any time I've met him he seems rude to me and domineering. To top this off, after they got married they moved to the south of the country for his job, far away from all of her friends and family, but near enough to his.

I know they regularly get into arguments and she messages me saying she's really upset but she will never tell me what happened and just plays it down afterwards. He controls the money (she doesn't work) and their lifestyle, and he often uses this against her to do chores, etc.

Often after they have these 'big rows', he's given her some lavish gift and she's posting about how wonderful he is online. I'm not trying to be nosy but I'm really concerned about this relationship (she doesn't seem her strong-willed self anymore and it's like she put all her trust in him) and I'm worried about what could happen if I don't do anything. I get the sense she's hiding something from me about him, but the last thing I want to do is lose her friendship. Please help.


Majella replies: I understand things may not seem right to you but you do not have any details of what is going on in the relationship. At the risk of sounding harsh, which I don't mean to be, you don't really know her inside out at all.

You said she is very quiet about her emotions and sometimes trying to get her to open up is like trying to get 'blood from a stone', so you really don't know what's going on in her head. You are only presuming and you may be wrong in your assumptions.

However, let's give you the benefit of the doubt. Women's intuitions can very often be right, so what can you do if there is physical abuse? The answer is very little, I'm afraid. It is up to your friend to do something about her situation if she is not happy and all you can do is support her in any way you can.

That does not mean interfering in the relationship, it merely means making sure she knows you are there for her should she ever need you.

You could be a little more direct and tell her that you are worried about her but you cannot force her to open up so just let her know that she always has a place to go to.

It is very hard for women in this situation to ask for help to break away from the family. Guilt is a high factor as well as manipulation and they always feel like the bad person.

My boyfriend has a body odour problem

Dear Majella

I'm wondering what I should do about my boyfriend's body odour problem. It's really embarrassing for both of us but I don't want to be rude about it or hurt his feelings. We've been going out about five months now and at first I noticed it, say, if we ran for a bus together. But now I notice it every time he puts his arms around me.

I'm pretty sure other people notice it too and I feel like we always get weird looks from people. He seems really oblivious to it. I've done things like 'accidentally' left unisex deodorant in his bathroom and brought up the topic in a general way, but he doesn't seem to get what I'm hinting at. I don't want to be the girl who doesn't accept him as he is, because I do think I love him, but as I said, it's really embarrassing and unpleasant. What else can I do to make him realise?

Sarah, via email

Majella replies...

Dear Sarah

I don't envy you with this problem! He is a lucky guy that you have stayed around and want to sort this.

Lots of girls would just break up rather than have to face telling him, so well done to you. And you are right to try and sort it because he may be a really nice guy and just doesn't realise he has a BO problem. It would be a shame to end things just because of that but having said that, if you don't address it soon, it could begin to really bother you.

You said you have left 'hints' around the place but that he has not picked up on them. Maybe you just need to bite the bullet and talk to him frankly in a sensitive manner as he may have no notion at all that he has this problem, so hinting would be a waste of time.

Pick a time when you won't be disturbed and tell him you have something you want to talk to him about. Explain to him that you really don't want to hurt or embarrass him but that there are times when you think you can get an unpleasant odour from him. I'm sure that if he knew about it he would want to sort it.

The most important thing is to be as sensitive as you can. A good way to judge how to say it would be to put yourself into your boyfriend's shoes. If you had the BO problem, how would you prefer to be told?

I know that nobody would choose to be in that position, but think about how you would feel. Reassure him that you really enjoy his company and that you hope to continue the relationship.

Irish Independent

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