It’s a common TV and movie trope: there’s a woman sitting around with her girlfriends complaining about her husband. Each woman takes a turn talking bad about her man, all the while refusing to talk to him about it.
While it looks like harmless fun, this behavior is actually destructive for relationships.
Talking crap about your S.O. isn’t a fun pastime to do with your best friends. It’s a toxic habit that can destroy the foundation of your relationship.
Talk to your spouse, not about them.
You reinforce negative opinions.
You ever notice that the more you complain about something, the more negative you feel about it?
I’ve noticed there’s a huge difference between how I feel about something depending on if I’ve ranted about it for an hour or if I’ve simply let it go. Every sentence I say reinforces the negative thoughts in my head.
Marriage is also susceptible to negative talk. The more you complain about your spouse, the more your brain will reinforce those opinions — and the harder it will be to see anything positive.
If you want to have a happy marriage (or any relationship), you can’t inflate the negativity.
It’s O.K. to ask for advice from your friends. But it’s another thing altogether to trash talk your S.O.
Remember: this is the person you chose to be with. If you have respect for them and your relationship, you should keep quiet.
You make other people dislike your spouse.
Have you ever had a friend share something bad about their partner? What was it like the next time you saw them together? Did you think about what they’d told you? Were you able to look at the person the same way?
Every time you complain about your spouse to your friends or family members, you tarnish their perception of your partner.
Not only are you hurting your own opinion of your spouse, but you’re also ruining their relationships with other people without them knowing it.
That isn’t fair to your spouse, especially if you’re not bragging about them getting a raise at work or making a delicious cheesecake.
You’ll hurt their feelings.
Everyone has experienced finding out that someone they trusted was talking bad about them behind their back.
I can still remember every time someone close to me has done this. Imagine how your S.O. would feel if they found out what you were saying? Would they feel hurt, embarrassed, angry, ashamed?
If you think your spouse wouldn’t mind what you’re saying, then go ahead.
But if you have even the smallest inkling that your words could hurt them, you should stop. Long-term relationships are built on trust, and knowing that your partner is betraying you behind your back could destroy it completely.
When you get married, you enter a partnership that it’ll be you two against the world. Don’t break that agreement with trash talk.
It doesn’t help you figure it out.
There have been a few times when talking about my relationship problems with a friend has helped me see my husband’s point of view.
But unless you’re actively looking for a solution or a way to understand what they’re thinking, talking openly can make it worse.
The next time you feel tempted to dish about your S.O., question your motives. Are you trying to get an honest perspective from your friends or do you want someone to agree with you? Are you looking to see their point of view or for someone else to shit talk?
If you do get a friend’s advice and they disagree with what you’re thinking, don’t try to convince them. They might be seeing things from your partner’s point of view.
Talking crap to talk crap doesn’t help you work through the relationship issues. Any committed relationship takes work. And you don’t need to make that work harder.
What to do instead.
When I’m feeling upset, the first thing I turn to is my journal.
Writing out how I feel is the easiest way to let out my emotions without them affecting anyone else. I try to write down specifically why I’m feeling upset and then examine if what’s bothering me is worth bringing up.
If you’re having trouble articulating your problems, talking to a counselor can help. You can see one individually or as a couple. An objective third party can help you decipher what’s going on and how you can fix it together.
Anyone struggling to avoid complaining about their spouse should tell their friends why they’re trying to avoid it. Asking other people to help keep you accountable can make it easier to stay on track. Plus, it might help your friends to avoid repeating the habit.
If you’re complaining about the same topics, it’s likely time you discussed them with your spouse.
It’s easier to let them stay in the dark about what’s bothering you, but that’s a fast way to build a marriage full of secrets and lies. And that’s not a relationship that’s fulfilling on any level.