by Nadirah Angail
Sometimes, you can’t contain it. Sometimes, the problem seems so big and the emotional response is so great that you just have to call a friend and let them know about the grand showdown that just occurred between you and your husband.
They don’t always help, these conversations, but we have them because they make us feel good. We like the release we experience when recounting the story, being sure to highlight all our good points and all his bad ones. We like the comfort we get from our friends who reassure us that he is the one with the problem (not us).
We don’t always like, however, the repercussions of these conversations, which have a way of increasing the divide between already-feuding couples. For that reason, we must be cautious.
There is nothing wrong with seeking marital advice or getting another perspective on an issue, but we must never forget our duties to our spouses. Husbands and wives should be garments for each other. We must guard each other’s feelings and reputations in the same way we’d guard our own. That doesn’t change just because we’re upset. Consider the following when discussing your relationship with others.
DO calm down first
If you’re still at a 10, it’s better to wait until you’ve calmed down to approach another person about your problems. When you’re very upset, your filters can be faulty and you may say something you either didn’t mean or didn’t mean to share.
DO have an agenda
The point of the conversation should not be to merely vent, but to gain some insight into a particular area your having trouble with. Perhaps ask how they communicate with a person who shuts down when upset or ask if they have any tips on keeping your cool in a highly emotional argument. Whatever you ask or say, it should be specific and well thought out. Otherwise, you may end up spending an hour or so merely entertaining someone else with the intimate details of marriage.
DO choose wisely
You shouldn’t talk to everyone about your problems. In fact, you shouldn’t talk to most people about them, friend or not. You have to choose someone who will be an advocate for your marriage, meaning they will be slow to encourage divorce and quick to point out your spouse’s positive qualities. This person should also be levelheaded and married, preferably.
DON’T talk to someone who will spread your business
Some people just can’t keep their mouth shut. Those are the types of people you shouldn’t talk to about your marriage. Remember, if they will tell you someone else’s business, they will certainly tell your business to someone else (and they probably won’t even tell it correctly).
DON’T say anything that would hurt or embarrass your spouse
This one can be tricky because sometimes the things you really need to discuss can be the ones your spouse would never approve of you sharing. You’ll have to use your own discretion. The main thing to remember is that you are to guard his reputation. Certain issues, like physical or drug abuse, should be shared with someone trustworthy, regardless of if it will be upsetting or not. (Note: In the case of any type of abuse, especially physical, your safety will always have to be taken into account, so you may need to strategize before you tell someone.) Other issues, like sexual ones or anything else of very private nature, can be addressed by reading books and utilizing anonymous online forums. People are often surprised to find there are tons of helpful people online who are experiencing similar circumstances.
DON’T make it a habit of only discussing your spouse’s shortcomings
If the only time you discuss your husband is when he is driving you insane, even the most nonjudgmental person may begin to see him in a tainted light. They may find themselves thinking, “Wow, sounds like she married a real jerk,” when the truth is that he only seems that way because of the image you created. Even though you’re upset in the moment, you know he is a wonderful man, but the person you’re confiding in may not.
Even when we don’t feel like it, we must cherish our marriages and our spouses by protecting them from the curious ears of those whose words have no value.
BMWK — How do you feel about discussing your marriage with others?
Nadirah Angail is a Kansas City-based writer and marriage and family therapist (MFT). She has published two books and maintains a blog that focuses on relationships and women’s issues. She’s a little bit obsessed with green smoothies, natural hair and Lifetime movies. Connect with her on Twitter and Facebook.
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