I was working with a client recently who asked me what I thought about “spouse bashing” and the effects it had on relationships. I thought this was a great question, and as I pondered the notion of male/female “gripe sessions,” I began to wonder how helpful, or hurtful, they could be. On one hand, I support the need to vent and receive additional support, but on the other hand, I thought about perception and how our views significantly affect the way we operate in the world. Here’s my take on the do’s and don’ts of marriage grievances.
DO have a community of support- outside of your relationship- where you can brainstorm, talk through and come to terms with common, marital growing pains.
DON’T discuss things about your relationship that you would be embarrassed, nervous or scared about if your spouse found out.
DO talk to your husband about issues that may be weighing you down, and get his approval if you need to lament to a friend.
DON’T speak out of anger, exaggerate the facts, or use words that would threaten to harm the union of your relationship.
DO discuss things about your wife in a calm manner, always beginning the conversation with words of appreciation and respect, and ending the conversation in the same way.
DON’T speak badly about your spouse in hopes of bringing outsiders to “your” side. This only fuels and validates your anger. It does nothing to solve the problem.
DO ask your loved ones for empathy, compassion and nonjudgmental opinions.
DON’T talk with others who have pre-determined biases about your significant other or your relationship. Biased perspectives can change your entire outlook on the situation and can impact how you feel about your loved one for the long term.
Remember that the amount of time and energy you spend on anything dictates how you see and interact with the external world around you. Don’t start writing a negative script for your marriage that can aid in the result of an unhappy ending. Instead, focus on the positive attributes of your spouse and your relationship. Stay kind, even when the going gets tough, and go straight to the source for resolution. Gossiping has never brought about positive results in life; only added resentments, pent up anger and presumed animosity.