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My Married Life: Why I Can't Nurse Friends Through Breakups

This morning, my phone rang and I let it go to voicemail. Turns out it was a friend of mine whose girlfriend had dumped him last night. He sounded really bummed (rightfully so). But here’s the thing: I didn't call him back right away. I figured, it's morning, so I can wait at least the length of time a really, really long shower would take before returning his call. Anything to buy myself some time. Ideally, enough time that my friend would be well into his healing process before speaking to me. I just feel like I'm a more effective friend once the other person has stopped crying.

Why? Simple, I don't know what to say.

I stopped seeing relationships as fleeting as soon as I found myself in a secure one. Sure, I have single friends and friends who are dating, but I find myself completely unable to relate to their woes.

My wife, on the other hand, still seems to be able to fill this role in her friends’ lives. Not just able -- she appears to enjoy it. I'll hear her half of a phone convo and I can tell exactly what's going on. Holly is always right there with the good advice, shaping the wounded girl's future perspective, and doing it all with an attentiveness that tells me one thing: Not only did she not feign illness (or an hour-long shower) to avoid calling the girl back, she placed it at the top of her priority list.

Now, those calls can last a while. If I take one, I need to be sitting, with a pad of paper to scribble on, and an emergency bottle of water. It’s like torture for me. I can’t help but think, I'm married, so I don’t have to deal with this stuff anymore. In other words, I don’t like being reminded what a drag dating was. I've even had a friend say (after spilling his guts and hearing my half-hearted response), "You're lucky -- you've got someone at home who loves you."

That's right, I do! So maybe next time I should just hand the phone to my wife. What do you do to console a friend dealing with a split?

-- Jack

See More: Ask a Guy , Couple Issues , Love & Sex