Potentially socially awkward situation where we like the husband as a friend but not his wife

What do you do when you and another couple befriend a third couple and then, over a period of months, realize you all don’t like the wife in that third couple but you really like the husband?

Oh, and the wife in that third couple won’t allow her husband to go do things without her despite the fact the husband would love to go on a boys night out.

We are basically at the point of writing off this third couple but only because we really don’t like the poor guy’s wife.

This all came to a head last weekend when, for the first time, we all spent a whole weekend together in a cabin in the woods. There were no fights or anything, just a realization that the wife is a moody, controlling, unhappy person in general, and makes people around her quite uncomfortable.

We expect them to invite us out again soon, but we’re not very interested, and saying “we don’t like you anymore” is really awkward. Notably, we’ve been hanging out for many months, having backyard BBQs, etc., but never more than maybe 3 hours at a time.


Also, it would be awkward saying, “We really like you, but not your wife so much … so call us when she lets you off your leash.”

We really feel bad for the guy because he doesn’t have many friends to begin with, he really like us, and I’m certain he would love to hang out with us more.

Oh phew, I was afraid that I was the “wife” until the cabin in the woods bit. My love and I went to dinner with some new friends a few months ago and after that they kind of dropped us and we don’t know why.

If they are a package deal and you can’t stand the wife, I don’t see any other choice but to write off the couple. You don’t have to explain why, just keep declining until they stop asking. If you really like the husband and you could perhaps stand the wife in smaller doses, just do short events with them instead of weekends. Perhaps if you entertain them at your house instead of her house or neutral turf she will be better behaved.

Couples have to be invited together for events where any couples attend. That’s just common courtesy.

So get used to the idea that you have to drop both at once.

Even then it’s tricky.
I once had a nice coworker who lived on our block who invited us to dinner. His wife had some sort of mental problem. No short term memory. Would drop things and not know where to look. Keep introducing herself to us. All night. Not her fault, but we never returned the invitation. And it made her angry. A couple of times she saw us in town from across a street and denounced us to all in earshot. He apologized for her behavior, blamed “her meds”, but told me he knew why we would never ask them over. Or just him either.

One idea we had was kidnapping him from work for a happy hour (just the boys). However, I guess we would have to avoid the whole, “Why are you married to her again?” conversation.

Here’s one sitcom-caliber plan:

Of the two couples who like eachother (you and the other one), have the husbands try to do some guys-only things, emploring the third husband to come along until his wife finally relents.

For a while, the three husbands can do all kinds of stuff together, without the wives.

Then, maybe, just maybe, there can be a guys thing where the two wives last-minute decide to come along, until the 2 couples + 1 husband become “the group”, and the third wife sits at home and starts hating you all, and doesn’t want to come to your stupid gatherings.

I am living pretty much this exact situation at the moment, and haven’t figured out what to do. For a moment, I actually wondered if you were friends with the same couple until you mentioned the “cabin in the woods” part.

He probably knows his wife is like that, and it’s his problem. I’d quit inviting them, and if he asks why, I’d tell him that it’s because his wife is too high maintenance and she’s not fun.

Hell, I’d probably say it in front of her.

At the very least, I’d make wise-cracks and sarcastic remarks to her. I mean, if she has no problem controlling the room with her ill-behavior, she can’t expect everyone else to just play along. The husband might enjoy playing the victim, but c’mon, they’re adults, right? If he wants a night out with the boys, he needs to grow a set and go.

Otherwise, just drop them. Life is too short to have good times ruined by this woman. He’s stuck with her- you’re not.

He has no friends? One guess why.

If you really care about him, at some point it comes down to;

“Look Billy-Bob Joe-Bob Nigel Clive, we really love you, and enjoy spending time with you. Unfortunately, your wife is a whole lotta no-fun. We just don’t want to be around her if she has to be so moody, controlling and unhappy all the time. So please understand, it’s not you. We’d love to have YOU over or hang out with YOU any time. But not if she’s around.”

Don’t invite them out for awhile but in the mean time plan a bunch of guy stuff. Ball game, golf, fishing, happy hour, etc. Invite him to each one. The problem will eventually solve itself, he’ll either start going or you’ll stop inviting.

Sounds like someone needs to confront the wife.

My wife and I had a similar conflict a couple year ago. We got married later in life and both had friendships established with several couples. But over time we found that some of the couples we like the wife or husband but not their partner, or in the instance of a few gay couples one partner but not the other.

Now you would think three upbeat people would bring the down person up–but alas the world doesn’t work like that. That downer person brought everyone down, everytime. It got so that I dreaded going out with those types of couples because sometime that evening there would be some sort of drama over something that mattered little in the real world. I in particular HATE couples who argue in front of you. There have been times I have not agreed with something my wife did (or vice-versa) but I can tell you that no one at the time was aware of it. But my wife and I, did discuss the issue later over coffee, etc because there is a time and a place for that sort of discussion—and when you are out with your friends is NOT the time.

So about two years ago we culled our friendships—if we didn’t like BOTH the husband and wife, we just sort of stopped inviting them out. We culled it down to a group of about 8 couples that we both enjoy, and enjoy each person in the couple. We have get togethers and everyone has a great time, without the drama we used to have. What I like in particular is that several of the couples originally only knew my wife have become good friends with couples that only knew me.

On one level that sounds cruel–but life is too short to hang with someone who you don’t enjoy. My free time is limited and when I go out with my friends I want to enjoy it, not worry about some drama queen, or some control freak. I want to have a good time, and enjoy the company of my friends. So we culled them out and I feel for the person married to the dull person, but they chose that relationship, not me. Good luck is all I can tell you.

I always feel we spend way too much of our lives trying to figure out how to say something without hurting the other person’s feelings.

As has been pointed out above, the guy likely knows that his wife is annoying. If he puts her in front of his friends, then, no matter how fun he is, he’s really not going to make a good friend, anyways.

So just make a point of inviting him places without her. She’ll get the hint. If he won’t go, it’s his fault, not hers. If you can stand her at all, try inviting her occasionally and putting her in a situation where she doesn’t have time to complain.

Find a nice woman, whom you all like, and who is of the type that husband would like.
Then introduce them, and try to arrange opportunities for them to be together, without the wife.

Then after he divorces the moody, controlling wife and marries the nice woman you found for him, you can all enjoy inviting this new, happy couple to events.

I’m 21 and have never been married so I don’t know much about couples’ etiquette, but I feel that it’s difficult to invite just the husband if the two other couples are together, but that it would be perfectly acceptable for the guys only to hang out. I think Rack-a-Bones has the right idea - if you’re hanging out with the other friend anyway, you can continue inviting this third guy, but that’s about all you can do. If he wants the friends badly enough, he’ll eventually go for it. If he has some issue with his wife that prevents him from standing up to her in this regard (or any other) then it’s truly a shame, but there’s not much you, as a casual friend, really can or should do to intervene.

Otherwise, you have to decide for yourself how much you & other other couple enjoy his company to tolerate his wife’s, but I wouldn’t hang out with them as a couple unless the overall net benefit is positive.

If you’ve only known them for a spate of months, then you can just drop them, or demote them to the level of friends that get invited to big events but not to small intimate gatherings or anything involving overnights.

If the guy was a buddy of yours from way back, then I would think you had slightly more obligation to suffer through some social occasions with the wife along.

You can also go the path of trying to plan some guys’ nights and invite him and hope he manages it … but the risk here is that the wife could start proposing girls’ nights. By shifting your social focus to guys’ nights, you are sending a message and he could either be offended you have tried to drop his wife, or sad and grateful with a lot of potential awkwardness.

Invite him out to some Boy’s nights out. Invite the two of them to bbqs only occasionally. That way she can’t say you are actively excluding her because you can stonewall her with BBQ invitations. So say for every two or three boys nights you invite him to, you invite her to one bbq. You limit your exposure to her and get more exposure to him.

She will never do a girls night. The boys were going to do a boys night, and the girls were going to do a girls night.

Her philosophy is that she just cannot fathom the concept of wanting to do ANYTHING apart from her husband, other than going to work. Therefore, she cannot fathom the concept that her husband might want to do something without her … even for just one damn evening over some beers with friends.

When we started to plan a boys night out and invited him, apparently, she let her husband know how uncomfortable the concept of a boys night made her. We know he protested heartily to his wife in private because she told us that they had a full blown argument over it. However, she did not relent, and she quashed the whole thing. We did not get a full explanation until later.

Then, one day we brought up a potential boys night out. This is when the obviously frustrated husband told his wife to spill the beans to us. Apparently, their arrangement was that if the wife is going to quash the fun, then she should be the one to explain herself. So she did.

She explained her rationale, above, saying sorry, but that’s just how it goes. The rest of us started to challenge her thought process. The husband, though obviously crestfallen and seemingly embarrassed by the situation, chimed in with something like, “If that’s what she wants, then I will defend her.”

So, he disagrees with her and dislikes the fact he is being left out, though he is not only complying with her wishes, but feels the need to defend her position.

Here’s more about how she is…

When we went to the cabin, we all went for a walk. The women took a turn on a path, and the boys were separated from the girls, so we just decided the boys would do our own thing while waiting for the wives to come back around the trail.

The three of us boys had a great time just hanging out, joking, playing games, throwing rocks into the creek, etc. When we reunited with the wives, we were told how HIS wife was anxious by the fact the group was split up and questioned what the boys were up to, while the other two wives were doing just fine having their own husband-free time for a bit.

Later, we were talking about friendships and this wife basically said she is a “one best friend” kind of gal. In other words, she likes having ONE best friend and makes no real effort to have or maintain any other friends. I wondered to myself why she was even hanging out with us. I guess she has latched onto her husband as her ONE best friend and won’t let go of him, even for one evening. She has no other friendship outlets and apparently doesn’t want them.

Anyway, we all went up to the cabin to just hang out, play games, read, and relax. We all understood that’s what people with stressful work lives do at a cabin, except HER.

We later found out that, without telling us in advance, she had planned a full itinerary of group crafts, a picnic, and activities to fill our time at the cabin. She did not run this perfect plan by anyone else for feedback. She just assumed we would all happily play along with her idea of a good time.

When she came to realize we just wanted to hang out and not do much of anything, she sunk into a funk and made everyone uncomfortable because her whole plan was shot to hell.

She later explained she thinks a vacation should be filled with things to do at all times, and she’s not the kind of person to just hang out. She believes if you are not doing or learning something at all times, then a vacation is just wasted. She was having a hard time coping with the fact that her best laid plans were thwarted by people whose philosophy of a cabin getaway was to break free of schedules and the rat race and pretty much do next to nothing for a couple days. We did some of her activities, and it was fun, so it’s not like she was totally shut down.

Other activities she had planned were just off limits. For example, she said she had planned for us all to go up to Lake Tahoe to gamble until 1 a.m. When we decided to just hang out at the cabin instead, she got her panties in a wad. What she failed to take into account when making her previously undisclosed and supposedly perfect itinerary for everyone else to follow was that the other couple there has a THREE YEAR OLD CHILD, and it’s not like they can or want to just jump up and go to a damn casino until 1 a.m. or leave one spouse at the cabin to babysit while the rest of us go out. She also failed to account for the known fact that my wife is pregnant and going through all day nausea from it, and had no desire to go anywhere.

Her husband said he was fine with with all of us either just hanging out or doing activities. He didn’t care either way, but his wife was having a hard time coping. The problem is that she gets into funks and goes silent and lashes out on her husband, making everyone else uncomfortable, when she’s put out.

She showed us a 5 page itinerary she had typed up for her anniversary trip to San Diego. She said every little weekend getaway is planned out months in advance with a full itinerary, including an hour set aside for something as mundane as “listen to Ipod.”

Anyway, the thing is that she is very moody when she doesn’t get her way. She lashes out at her husband around us and rudely bosses him around. He just takes it.

For example, she told, not asked, but told him to go out to the car to get a journal she wanted to write in. He protested that it was pitch black outside and he would get it in the morning. They went back and forth when she finally said, “You have to go get it now.” Off he went in a huff. When he came back in with the journal, we talked about her journal for a bit, then she said she’s tired and didn’t feel like writing in it that night. We all wanted to smack her on behalf of her husband.

Another time, her husband was sitting on a foot stool instead of in a chair. She told him to move into the chair because his sitting there made her uncomfortable. He said he was fine where he was. She then started to try to nag him into the chair, but he didn’t move. He was getting frustrated, and she then said, “It would be easier on you to just move into the chair.” In other words, if you just do what I say, I’ll get off your back. The other husband there looked him in the eye and told him, “Dude, don’t move.” At that point, the frustrated guy refused to move. It was an uncomfortable scene.

We feel so sorry for her husband. They married very quickly. We don’t think he really knew what he was getting into, and now he probably feels stuck. He’s a great guy and quite funny, but she has earned the nickname, Snatch, among the rest of us.

That gives you an idea of what she’s like.

After I got divorced from my first wife, I realized I was the guy mentioned in the OP. When they saw me after the divorce, all of my friends, even the ones that the ex-wife and I made as a couple, would tell me, “We are so glad you two split. No offense, but we couldn’t stand your wife, man.”

She sounds like she is one part immature and cannot share and one part control freak.

I was going to say pretty much what you did, word for word. Especially the “life is too short” part. My gf and I share this philosophy and have had to use it a time or two.