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Mark Mehigan: ‘I hate my husband’s friends and I’m worried about their holiday’

Mark Mehigan: ‘I hate my husband’s friends and I’m worried about their holiday’


by Mark Mehigan
18th Jun 2024

Welcome back to How Are Your Hearts? with Mark Mehigan, number one bestselling author, comedian, podcaster, Instagram matchmaker, aspiring Cilla Black, dating series host, and our dating columnist on IMAGE.ie (he’s having a busy year). Join us here monthly as he answers your love dilemmas.

Q. Dear Mark, next week my husband is going on a golf trip with his schoolmates. They are in their forties and most of them are married. I don’t have any concerns about him cheating on me but there is one problem – I hate my husband’s friends. They are immature and every time he goes away with them, he becomes a different person. I’m really worried that this holiday and all of their antics will be plastered across social media and I will become a laughing stock. He is never giddy or rowdy at home but when he’s with them, it’s a different ball game. After his ‘school group’ Christmas dinner this year, I mentioned that I thought they were a bad influence. He got very defensive and said that he had known them for thirty years whereas he has only known me for three. I don’t know what to do. If I talk to him, I fear that he will respond badly and behave worse again on the holiday. – Aoife

Hey Aoife, thanks for your message. There are a couple of moving parts here and I will do my best to give you my honest opinion without descending into a roast of lad culture and/or men in their forties who prioritise the craic with their school friends over the emotional needs of their families. And if I am being totally honest, I also think you are probably a little bit in the wrong too.

Now, maybe I am still living in the romantic Shangri-La that is recently getting engaged but what in God’s name is your husband doing making a defence for his schoolfriend’s behaviour by arguing that he has known them longer than you? You are literally his wife. There should be no competition for his loyalty, and even if there was one, was marriage not the finish line? Did he follow up by asking you how many tries you scored in the Junior Cup Final or if you slept with anybody at the debs? I hasten to make light of your predicament as it’s clearly causing some distress, but this one is particularly ridiculous. I mean, notably, I would have thought that the people we have known the longest in life are generally the ones that hurt us the most. Or, as somebody recently said to me when venting about a row he had with his mother; “She knows exactly how to push my buttons… because she f***ing installed them!”.

I often find myself saying in this column that it’s hard to speak with authority on a matter when presented with such limited context. This situation is no exception. Ultimately though, I think it depends on what your husband is doing when he gets together with these friends – is he becoming more vocal in the campfire sing-a-longs or is he standing at the back of a Ryanair flight, conducting a choir of gobshites whilst using his penis as an orchestral baton? If it’s the latter, words need to be had. There is a gulf between a few lads going on a holiday and a lads lads lads holiday and I say this as a lad who occasionally likes to go on holiday. We all know the difference. Unless your spouse is really behaving inappropriately, I think it’s important to remember that it’s normal for people to let their hair down when they go away. It’s a brief departure from their regular routine and an opportunity to escape the mundane trappings of life back home, if not themselves.

So, if we are to temporarily operate on the basis that he’s not doing anything totally egregious or illegal, I think it’s important to focus on one vital aspect of this; I do not think it’s weird for our partners or spouses to behave differently whenever they are around friends that they’ve had for life. There are probably decades of private jokes, anecdotes and teenage memories that might seem inane to the naked eye but actually serve as the very foundation of those friendships. Because without the glue of funny stories and shared experiences, what’s left? We all have acquaintances that we are only in touch with due to the role they played in our past. And when we do see them, it’s merely a memory exchange. Swapping the same old tales back and forth whilst ignoring the fact that there is little in the present day that would have our respective sets intersect on the Venn diagram of life. And that’s okay. There’s nothing wrong with that. There is a place for these relationships and not every friendship needs to be of the deep, meaningful and emotional variety.

I’m curious as to why you think that your husband’s behaviour could result in you becoming a laughing stock. This sounds severe? Unless he is flagrantly beaching your trust or behaving like a total imbecile, why exactly do you think it might affect your social standing? Are you annoyed at the things your husband is doing because you think they are beneath him? Or ultimately, is it because you believe them to be beneath you? If it’s the latter, then maybe this is a control issue. And please bear in mind that I am saying this from the perspective of someone who spent many years trying to contort the world around me into a shape that I found desirable until I eventually realised that it was making me miserable and I was the one who needed changing.

I suggest you stand back from the holiday situation and look at your relationship more broadly – is your husband a gobshite in more instances than when he’s with these friends? I’m uneasy that you are afraid to mention your concerns to him, for fear that he might then intentionally behave worse. That doesn’t sound great. Approaching conversations with our partners should never feel like an arduous, emotional chore and under no circumstances should we be punished for expressing ourselves assertively. If there’s one thing for you to take from this answer, it’s that.

In essence, the reality is that sometimes our partners are annoying. The people we choose to spend our lives with are unbearably human at the best of times. Loud, foolish, uncouth eejits, masquerading as functioning adults and merely doing their best with the tools that they’ve got. They have flaws and defects and sometimes it’s hard to accept them for what they are. In terms of the holiday itself – one thing I have learned from being in recovery and occasionally wandering down the unproductive cul-de-sacs of watching how other people drink is that there is a very fine line between judgment and envy. Is there any chance that you could be missing this outgoing side of your husband and feel hurt that he doesn’t show it off more with you? Perhaps a raucous weekend away somewhere together is what you need?

Alternatively, it could be the case that your husband is merely a 41-year-old man-child who will only respond to draconian measures. In which case, I would advise no PlayStation for a month, soup for dinner and take away all of his intercourse privileges for a fortnight. I wish you all the luck.

Are you looking for love? Are you sick of the apps? Do you need some advice about love and dating? If you have a question for Mark, send it in to [email protected] with the subject “Agony Uncle”, or DM @image.ie for advice straight from the Taoiseach of Grá himself.