Q: My friend is always complaining about her husband. I think she could use some marital counseling. How can I suggest this to her without offending her?

A: First it is natural to want to provide some emotional support for a friend in crisis. However, it is not good for you to continually listen to your friends' same repeated complaints about her husband. You may actually be stabilizing her relationship in its poor condition. It also becomes burdensome and emotionally unhealthy for you.

I would suggest being honest with your friend and kindly, tactfully ask her if her complaining about her husband with you has solved any problems. See if she is willing to address those feelings and concerns with her husband directly. If she feels this won't work, suggest the help of a counselor.

Most married couples go through a time of difficulties. Often being able to discuss some of these difficulties out with a safe mediator, can help partners see they are both trying and the marriage is worth the effort.

Experience shows that the cost of waiting to get help for problems is almost always greater in the end. The greatest tragedy I see is that many people know their marriage is failing, yet continue to let problems mount and bitterness build. The earlier they can seek help the easier it is to attain a successful outcome.

Interestingly statistics show that a divorce costs a person more money and time than anything else in their lives. Consider how quickly the cost of two separate households with double the rent, utilities, etc adds up. Then there is the cost of lawyers, custody arrangements, child support, and transportation. Most important is the cost in terms of sorrow and heartache to the child(ren) and the couple. You can tell your friend because you care about her, you wish to share your thoughts with her, then possibly share some of these ideas. Good luck!

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