My husband has asked me to stop talking about our marriage and other family issues with my girlfriends. What is your opinion about this? I think its important for me to be able to talk about things with my friends. I dont make my husband look bad, so Im not sure why hes so worried about this. I feel like hes trying to control me and tell me who I can and cant talk to.
As a rule, I think its a bad idea to talk with friends and family about your marriage issues. However, I think it all depends on what youre sharing and why youre sharing it with others. Perhaps your husband is picking up on something you should slow down and consider.
The biggest reason I think you should be careful about sharing your marriage woes with friends and family is that its more likely you wont feel like talking about the concerns with the person who needs to hear them the most. You need to be understood, but if your husband never gets a chance to hear where youre coming from, youll not feel connected to him again regardless of how much understanding your friends and family show you.
There are times when it makes sense to open up to someone outside of your marriage. That person should be a friend of the marriage, have good boundaries, keep information confidential, and encourage you to work things out directly with your husband. Processing with a friend or family member can help you get some clarity about your feelings and needs that will help you communicate better with your husband. However, if your friends and family become a dead end in your quest for understanding, you will only feel more resentful toward your husband.
When you share marriage needs with others before taking those feelings to your husband, it dilutes the strength of your message. In other words, you may have some strong feelings about something important that your friend may either play down or discourage you from sharing with your husband. If it involves your husband, he deserves to hear it from you in all of your passion and sincerity. A friend or family member cannot judge the value of a concern or need pertaining to your marriage.
Another concern youll want to consider is the risk that family and friends will have a bias against your spouse long after youve resolved the issue and moved on. If you share something he said that was hurtful or insensitive and you share it with them, it will likely change the way they see him or interact with him. Long after youve let it go or forgiven him for his behavior, they may still hold on to those feelings toward him. They arent going to get resolution with him, because they arent the injured party. Recognize that innocently sharing a temporary frustration can turn into a permanent wedge between your husband and the other person.
Ideally, you would learn how to share your needs, fears, concerns, and hurts with your husband directly. Why is this difficult for you to do? What role do friends really play in the sharing of your marriage frustrations? Are you avoiding talking directly with your husband for a reason? Perhaps hes protesting because he senses that youre going to the wrong person to work out your concerns. He might be trying to tell you that he wants to work things out with you, but isnt getting the chance when you share your important feelings and needs with others first.
I recommend you look closely at your reasons for sharing with others first. If theyre helping you turn back to your marriage so you can share your heart with your husband, then it might be working okay. If your husband senses hes missing something, slow down and see if hes right. You can learn how to turn to him and share. Youll both feel so much better knowing you can rely on the other to work out your most important concerns.
Geoff will answer a new family and relationship question every Friday. You can email your question to him at [email protected]
About the Author
Geoff Steurer is a licensed marriage and family therapist in St. George, UT. He is the owner of Alliant Counseling and Education (www.alliantcounseling.com) and the founding director of LifeStar of St. George, an outpatient treatment program for couples and individuals impacted by pornography and sexual addiction (www.lifestarstgeorge.com). He is the co-author of “Love You, Hate the Porn: Healing a Relationship Damaged by Virtual Infidelity”, available at Deseret Book, and the audio series “Strengthening Recovery Through Strengthening Marriage”, available at www.marriage-recovery.com. He also writes a weekly relationship column for the St. George News (www.stgnews.com). He holds a bachelors degree from BYU in communications studies and a masters degree in marriage and family therapy from Auburn University. He served a full-time mission to the Dominican Republic and currently serves on the high council of the St. George, Utah young single adult second stake. He is married to Jody Young Steurer and they are the parents of four children.
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Ben JonesJuly 25, 2014
I watched in utter dismay as my step-daughter's Temple marriage unraveled right before my eyes over a 3-year period. She came to me for a father's blessing after a serious fight with her husband. My counsel to her was to not fight fire with fire but rather with patience, long-suffering, and love unfeigned. Unfortunately, her husband did not cooperate. He told me I shouldn't have even given her a blessing because that was his job. He demanded not merely that she not talk about her marital problems with her friends but that she sever those friendships. I tried to tell him that his approach was totally counterproductive but he insisted that I did not have all the facts and that I should butt out. Needless to say, things did not work out between them.