He really got on your nerves this time. You are so angry you don’t know what to do.
You can’t believe this has happened. You are completely and totally devastated.
How could he be so inconsiderate? Does he ever think about anyone but himself?
Where did you go wrong? How did things get so off track?
We’ve all had those moments.
When you honestly have no idea what to do.
When you desperately need someone to talk to.
When you need to vent and just get things off your chest.
When you just need a shoulder to cry on and a listening ear.
In those moments, who do you reach out to?
Your closest friend?
You can trust them, right? They can give you objective advice, right? You’ll feel better after talking to them, right? Right?
I’m not so sure.
One of the most important lessons I’ve learned and that I help other women see is that talking about your marriage with other people rarely helps you solve anything. In fact, it is probably doing more harm than good. Here are 5 reasons I suggest you stop talking to other people about your marriage, right now:
1. You are making up a story.
Now let’s be honest. How often do you call your girlfriend to say, “Can you believe how amazing my husband is? He just melts my heart and does everything right!!” The truth of the matter is, when we reach out to talk about our marriage to friends or family members, it’s usually to complain. We have an issue or problem, our feelings are hurt, or we are really angry. We call the one person we know will always be on our side, who will make us feel better about our position, who will sympathize and empathize, and then tell us about how her husband does the same crazy nonsense. What you may realize is that you are creating a story – your version of reality, that’s embellished by your thoughts and feelings. And the person on the other end of the conversation is your co-author. Together, you craft an amazing plot of how you are right and he is wrong, and build up more and more evidence to create the ending you want. We all know that there is his side, our side, and the truth is somewhere in the middle. But most times, our view of what’s happening is greatly influenced by the thoughts or story we tell ourselves about the situation, resentments that have built up from the past, and the assumptions and meaning we give things. We don’t just focus on the facts, but create our own version of the facts. These stories, page by page, become our reality and when we get others to co-author our stories, it becomes much easier for our husbands to become the antagonist (the opposition) rather than the protagonist (someone we can empathize with).
2. Your friends and family always have their own agenda.
You may think that when you reach out to others, that they can be objective and help you gain some perspective. But the reality is that everyone has an agenda, whether they know it or not. That agenda is colored by their own experiences, their history, their thoughts and opinions, and their feelings about you and your husband. Most times, their agenda is to support you and make you feel good. And that’s not a bad thing! But when you go to them complaining, they can’t help but want to be on your side. In doing so, you may be missing an opportunity to grow and see things in a new way that could open up wonderful doors to your marriage. You know the saying, “birds of a feather flock together”. Your friends and family are likely to think about things in similar ways you do. And it’s likely that the issues you face in your marriage are influenced by thinking and doing things the same way you have always done. To have the breakthrough you probably want, you need to think, feel, and do something different. And sometimes you friends and family just don’t have that on their agenda.
3. People hold grudges, even when you’ve moved on.
When you unload your problems onto someone else, you may eventually move on, but they are still stuck with your baggage. If you share experiences where you were angry, hurt or frustrated by something your husband did, the natural tendency is for them to think negatively about him. That thinking doesn’t dissolve just because you are in a better place. Consciously or unconsciously, they are waiting for him to mess up again. And all they are left with are the words you used against him and the upset he “caused” you. And sometimes they hold on to the negative experiences you have as a way of making themselves feel better about their own problems. Sharing your issues is an automatic invitation to comparison. And rarely is comparing our problems to those of others a productive use of time.
4. Your spouse probably has most of the answers.
If you’ve ever wanted to know, “what do I have to do to get him to…” or “how come he always does…” or, “what will it take to make things better” there is one person you should consult. Your spouse. He knows what’s really going on, what’s getting in the way, and what he really wants from you. Perhaps he has a hard time communicating in a way you can truly understand. Perhaps you have not really been listening. Perhaps you have not really asked…nicely and with genuine curiosity. (And I don’t mean the “what the heck is wrong with you, or “why on earth would you do that???!!” type of asking.). I don’t have the answer for why you don’t have your answers and I’m pretty sure your friends and family don’t either. I do know there are ways to open the door to communication rather than shutting it down. When you reach out to someone besides your husband, you move one step farther away from him.
5. Your marriage is sacred.
Sometimes we forget that there is no other relationship as important as our marriage. You’ve made the most serious commitment to one person. To put them first, to honor them and respect them – in their presence and outside of their presence. I believe that marriage is a covenant between you, your husband and God. And because of that, you should be careful with your words. Don’t let the pressure to have something to say tempt you to share too much information about your marriage. When friends and family ask, how your husband is doing or what’s happening in your life, think long and hard about what you share. I love drama as much as the next girl, and I love to hear about drama happening for others, but my marriage drama stays at home. Now, I’m not suggesting you pretend that everything is wonderful when you are really struggling, but try to place some boundaries around the information you share. Instead of giving a play by play of your last argument, offer that you are working on some communication issues, and ask if your friend/family member has any resources to help you. Ask them to pray for you. After all, your relationships with those who care about you should look like a support system, not a gossip factory.
So, then, who do you talk to?? I believe that challenges in your marriage always offer the opportunity for you to grow, and for you and your husband to grow closer together. As a result, talking to each other, instead of about each other is always a great rule of thumb. If you need some help communicating effectively, or processing what’s been happening in your relationship in ways that are productive, you may want to reach out to a professional. Whether that’s a therapist or a relationship coach, you can find that listening ear and objective perspective in someone who’s experienced in moving you forward with practical and concrete steps to improve your situation. If neither of those work, then God help you!! (LOL!)
No, but seriously, there is real help for what you are going through. I believe a therapist or coach should provide you with specific action steps and tangible tools that will make a difference in your relationship. I believe you should talk about issues with the goal of solving them, not for the sake of placing blame. I believe there is always something within your control that can be changed to completely transform your experience. If you believe any of those same things, let’s talk.
This month, I’m offering a FREE Marriage MakeOver Coaching Session. It’s 30 minutes on the phone. I’m not your friend. I’m not your family. I have no agenda but helping you achieve yours. I’m not the co-author of your current story, but I’d love to guide you in creating a new one. And I’d love to be your coach.
Learn more about my free coaching session here ==> FREE COACHING