It was Sunday night and my husband Andreas* had just returned from a weekend away with his best friend Karen*. As I washed up, he chatted happily about the bar crawl they’d been on. ‘Karen says you boss me around,’ he said. I threw down the sponge. ‘And did you stand up for me?’ I yelled, and stormed off. Though furious with Karen, I was also annoyed with Andreas. He’s incapable of keeping things to himself, but it was as if he was trying to goad me.
Andreas and I met at a London art gallery in 2015, when we were in our late 30s. It was a whirlwind romance: we moved in together within three months and married six months later. Karen loomed large from the start. She was 40, a teacher, and like Andreas she is German – they’d met as students.
At first, I liked the fact that Andreas had a close female friend, it showed he was empathetic. And Karen seemed lovely, explaining that her closeness with Andreas was down to their culture (she said that Germans typically only have a few close friends, who are like family). I found it sweet.
But Karen’s expectations went beyond the norm. She demanded regular weekends away with Andreas. Lazy Sunday mornings were dominated by two-hour phone calls between them. And Andreas admitted that his shoulder tattoo – Thai symbols interwoven with a heart – translated to ‘friends forever’. Karen had an identical one on her back. They’d both been single for spells during their 20-year friendship and nothing had happened, plus they acted like siblings, so although friends commented, I was never worried about cheating, I just felt ignored and angry.
However, things came to a head when Karen demanded Andreas fly to Paris for her birthday. I pointed out that we already had commitments and he agreed not to go. Then Karen emailed me: ‘Don’t try to take Andreas away from me,’ she wrote. ‘You won’t win.’ Andreas laughed it off. ‘She’s just a bit intense. She doesn’t mean it.’ But Karen refused to speak to me after that.
When she got married last year, I didn’t want to go, but Andreas was making a speech so I agreed. Karen’s husband is a quiet man, oblivious to their friendship and I hoped that marriage might change things. But on the day, I was seated at the back between two elderly relatives, while Andreas was on the top table beside Karen. Watching her kiss him and waltz around in her backless dress, her ‘bestie’ tattoo on full show, felt like she was mocking me.
Back in our hotel room, I told Andreas it was her or me. ‘She’s not going to stop until she’s wrecked our relationship,’ I said. Andreas was drunk and woozily shook his head, then fell asleep. However, on the plane home the next day, he broke down, admitting that he’d known the friendship was unhealthy. He apologised for letting Karen criticise me, confessing the friendship had ruined his earlier relationships. Though angry, I knew he’d ignored it because he hates conflict. When he said he’d end the friendship, I was so relieved.
The next week, he emailed Karen explaining this, then he blocked her. She’s tried to contact him through friends, but a year on Andreas had been as good as his word.
It was tough for him, but cutting her off has restored my faith in our marriage. He also plans to get the tattoo removed. I’m happy I’ve won the battle for my husband’s love, but I hope the tattoo removal hurts a bit.
As told to Sally Howard. * Names have been changed.
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