War of the Roses

Received Saturday, August 8, 2009
Perspective and Opinion on ISYN I have a slight dilemma. I have been a nanny for 4 years and have enjoyed every minute of it. The first family I worked for has become like my own family. I have formed a wonderful relationship with them over the years and continue to see them regularly even though I am no longer employed by them. Recently, the parents marriage has been going through a rough patch (to say the least) and there has been talk of divorce. I am close to both Mom and Dad and they obviously feel that they can confide in me. This has put me in an awkward position, as I feel stuck in the middle. The husband calls his wife lewd names in front of me. I have spoken to him about it but he does not take me seriously. She doesn't bad mouth him, but does tell me the things she is going through. While I do side with the wife, I would never tell either of them that. I am neutral and they know that. But I feel really uncomfortable knowing so much about their private battles and don't like knowing things that the other spouse does not. How can I possibly get through to them that I do not wish to be in this position? They just don't seem to get it.

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Yaya said...

It sounds like they aren't listening to you so I would start showing them in body language and flat out ignoring/changing the subject when they bring stuff up to you.

Just Me said...

I agree with Yaya.
In addition, why not suggest they speak to a friend of their own that they can confide in?
Just mention that you are not an expert in dispensing advice on this subject and maybe a friend would be better at helping them. Maybe throw in there, firmly, that constantly hearing of it is making you increasingly uncomfortable.
Good luck.

mom said...

Here's what I do when somebody tries to gossip to me, and I am not in a positin to rock the relationship (as in,somebody in the workplace, church, etc., where you can't afford a rift.)

Instead of making them feel two inches tall by saying someting like, "Please do not gossip to me, " I will make it unfulfilling for them to choose me to speak to.

For instance, if mom says, "I feel so isolated because dad is so emotionally unavailable," you might say, with no emotion, "I have not seen that side of him."

If dad says, "Mom is such a whiny bitch," you might say, with no emotion, "I have never seen that side of her."

If mom says, "I am thinking about divorcing dad," you might say, "Oh, please don't tell me any more because I have a hard time hiding my feelings and I don't want to cry when I see him. And then when he asks why I will feel compelled not to lie to him."

If dad says he is thinking of cheating on mom, you might say, "OH, then you don't want to tell me. I can't hide my emotions and sadness be written all over my face when I see her. And if she asks why I will only cry, and feel compelled not to lie to her."

Those two ought to cover just about every attempted conversation start up. Always pretend to not have seen any bad traits, and make them think their terrible secrets are not safe with you (because of circumstances beyond your control, of course.) If you do not ooh and aah at their complaints and appear to be interested in the gossip, they will look for more gratifying outlets than you. Plus how far can a conversation go when they keep asking, "Have you noticed X about my spouse?" and you just keep saying, "No, I haven.t?"

OP here said...

Mom (and everyone else) very good advice. Thanks

nannydownsouth said...

Great advice Mom!

My employer has confided in me about small annoyances she has with her husband. She and I are extremely close, more like sisters. Her husband and mine have this same trait and we just complain about it together, lol. Her husband is a lot more disrespectful and downright rude when stating his disapproval of said subject, whereas mine is kinder about it. I feel bad and let her confide in me ALL she wants, especially since I barely ever talk to Dad at all. I also do extra duties around the house unasked to keep her from being "yelled" at over said subject. Now, if talk of divorce started happening, I would definitely be uncomfortable if name-calling and husband-bashing started. However I would never turn her away if she needed comfort or to just talk. I would express my discomfort if she was to bash him, and I know she would respect that.