My best friend is getting married in a few months, and I’m going to be a bridesmaid in her destination wedding in a pretty remote and expensive area. Yay? But today she informed me that my husband is sorta-kinda not invited. And I’m feeling pretty hurt and confused and not sure how to react.

A bit of background: My husband and I have had a really, really difficult year. We very nearly got divorced this summer, after a hellish eight-month period in which his work took us to a dangerous and very isolated area. While there, he fell into a depression and completely withdrew emotionally and verbally—barely got out of bed, barely spoke to me. During the same period I also got a long, long overdue diagnosis for depression and anxiety that landed me in the hospital for suicidal behavior. My husband wasn’t really in any shape to be much support, and I felt totally alone and abandoned, then had emotional affair that really damaged our marriage.

I guess that’s a long way of saying that there’s plenty of blame on both sides, and he’s not some aggressive asshole whose girlfriend’s friends all secretly hate him. He’s a little introverted and not a huge party animal, but has never been violent or insulting or creepy toward me or any of my friends. His worst transgression is silence. Prior to my meltdown, she really liked him! She used to tell me how great she thought he was and and that she considered him a big brother. He and I have since reconciled and have been working really hard on communicating, supporting each other, and learning to be the kind of partners we both need to lean on, and I think (with cautious optimism) that things between us are better than they have ever been (thank you therapy!). He’s really stepped up and taken care of me at a time when I needed it, and I’m doing my best to do the same for him.

My best friend was there for me through a lot of this, and I think she places a disproportionate amount of blame on him. There were a few times where I was too depressed and overwhelmed to return her calls and when she reached out to him, he told her I was okay and didn’t adequately panic or react the way she expected him to.

On the one hand, I understand her position—we only reconciled about a month ago and the wedding is now just a couple months away and as costs add up, finances are tight. On the other hand, as we rebuild trust and work on our marriage, I can’t very well take off for a international vacation and leave my husband behind, especially when money is tight. I talked it over with her a little, and she said part of it was financial (she’s heavily subsidizing all of the guests) and part is space at the resort (which is tight, but there is room for him). All of the other guests and bridesmaids with serious significant others are bringing them to the resort at the “subsidized” rate. Her compromise was that either he can be the only guest to pay full price if he wants to come (which we really cannot afford) while I pay the “subsidized” rate, or we can stay in a rental house that’s about a twenty-minute walk off-site, which would kind of isolate us, especially considering that the area is under a travel advisory and not really considered super safe right now. If he doesn’t come, I can stay on-site, but I’m one of the only friends who didn’t grow up in or currently live in her hometown, so while they all know each other and have partners, I’d kind of be the odd one out. I am a bit of an introvert myself, so that doesn’t make things really easy. And in the emotional shape I’m in right now, for a five-day trip, I really would like to have my husband with me. I genuinely enjoy spending time with him! And emotional support! And right now that time away just feels really critical.

I guess don’t really know what my question is. I feel really hurt and like I’m being punished for having a less-than-perfect relationship. I understand that the wedding is really expensive and finances are tight, but their wedding plans are pretty extravagant by any measure, and it stings that the one budget item that didn’t make the cut is my marriage—but the fancy chairs for a hundred-plus guests did. How do I handle this? I refuse to choose a destination wedding over my own marriage, flawed as it might be, but I really, really love this girl. Our friendship is so important to me that I can’t imagining losing it. My family aside, they are the two most important people in my life, and I feel hopelessly caught in the middle and so, so hurt. Maaaaaaybe my husband and I can scrape together the money, but even so, it stings that we’re literally the only ones out of a large guest list to do so. It makes me feel like he’s unwanted and that by extension, I am as well. I also don’t know how to tell my husband what she told me for fear that it’ll just drive a wedge between them, which will make this an ongoing either/or choice for the rest of our lives. And I can’t imagine my life without either of them.

Please help! I could really use a balanced outside perspective on this.

—hurt bestie

A:DEAR hurt bestie,

I can tell this feels impossibly difficult to you right now, and I’m sorry. By all accounts you’ve had a rough year, and there is nothing more frustrating than feeling like everything is better and then getting thrown back into the mess.

Advice From Me (With Help From My BFF)

But you asked for a balanced outside perspective and (with the help of my best friend, who I also had weigh in on this), I’m going to give it to you. Fair warning, you won’t like it. To cut to the chase, I think you should go, without him, and without any anger toward your best friend. For so many, many reasons.

First, let’s be very clear about reality. Your husband is not “sorta-kinda not invited.” That is not a thing that is true. He is invited. Your best friend has just declined to pay to subsidize the cost of his trip.

And why might that be? Let’s examine the last year from her perspective. She loves you, I assume like all best friends do, with a fierce and passionate loyalty. Your husband takes you away to an isolated and dangerous place. Once he has you there, he stops talking to you or getting out of bed. You are hospitalized for your own issues and he doesn’t support you. When she reached out to him with concern, he basically blows her off. When you say she blames him, it’s hard for me as an outsider to see why she is wrong to do so!

You and your husband have reconciled. To be honest, when your description of a man includes, prominently, “he’s never been violent,” that’s actually a really bad sign, in my experience. But it’s your marriage and I don’t know. Maybe its great! Maybe this was a true and genuine turning point. Maybe you are both getting really excellent mental health treatment and you’re back in a safe area with a big support network and everything is roses. But has your husband reconciled with your best friend?

I think for this reconciliation to work, you need to be honest with your husband. And that includes being able to tell him that your bestie is mad at him, and why. Surely he is aware that his behavior was Not Good? You say you can’t tell him she feels this way or it will drive a wedge between them. If he can’t understand that she’s upset about his behavior and isn’t ready to move on yet, is he really addressing his role in the breakdown of your marriage?

You have been back together for one month! ONE. “Hey, you’re obviously invited to bestie’s wedding, but she isn’t going to be able to subsidize the cost for you. Since we weren’t together as she was finalizing her plans, and her wedding is in two months, it just isn’t in the cards. And, honestly, I think she’s still a little mad about the whole last year. I’m clearly going, do you want to come? We can probably get the money together if you do, but I also don’t mind going by myself if you don’t want to.” Why pretend everything is perfect when it’s been an absolute disaster of a year? I think the best way back from that has got to involve a matter-of-fact acknowledgment of reality.

Break The Glass On The Advice If I’m Wrong

But I’m open to entertaining the idea that I’m wrong here, so let’s also take the opposite point of view. Your relationship is on the ups, and you need your friend’s full support. Your best friend is flat out wrong to be mad. She should be treating him like any other SO.

All that being the case, I still think you should go without him. You’ve had a rough time of it, and she showed up for you. She invested herself in this friendship and saw you through a really hard thing. It is now your turn to show up for her, even if she’s making some choices you don’t agree with. So yes, it might be less than ideal to attend without your husband. It was probably less than ideal for her to be panicking at not being able to reach her suicidal best friend in a scary faraway place, but she showed up for that, so you can handle a few days in a resort that aren’t your favorite days ever. Being your friend over the last year wasn’t really easy, which means that you can step it up for her and attend her wedding, even if it’s hard. Being a best friend means that you show up for her even when she’s wrong or if it’s inconvenient. It means that you owe her some grace. Nothing would do more to repair her relationship with your husband than him being gracious and understanding about this, and I think you should ask yourself why you aren’t comfortable asking that of him.

Bottom line though? Your problem is the kind of problem born out of having a friend who has deep, fierce, and protective love for you. No matter how you decide to manage this situation, remember that this kind of friend is worth hanging on to, even when you aren’t seeing eye to eye. She had your back. Now it’s time to have hers.

—Amy March


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