This might be a touchy topic, but here goes.

We get married to our dear darlings with all the hope in the world that we will always be awesome together and never ever fight about anything.

But then Life Happens. There is a misunderstanding, feelings get hurt. Disillusionment. Conflict. Things spiral out of control. Disappointment. Confusion.

Discussing your relationship with friends & family

Our natural reaction is to want to talk to our friends and family about our relationship problems, in an attempt to navigate and make sense of the rough seas we find ourselves in.

But here’s the thing: Your family and friends LOVE YOU. Your spouse might be the newcomer in their eyes. They will always take your side. The problem with this is, you are not necessarily the victim you would like to believe. It takes two people to have a fight, and usually both contributed to the breakdown in some way. I have seen this in action too many times to doubt: fight ensues, distraught wife discusses the fight in depth with friends and family {not realising she is portraying her husband as the bad guy in her version of events}. Friends and family say: “What an idiot! You should get a divorce!” or “It’s not okay for anyone to be that selfish in a marriage, you should *insert bad advice here* and stand up for yourself”.

Human relationships and conflict are complex topics. Aside from when there is an obvious abuser / adulterer in the relationship, we are just imperfect people trying to build a good life together.

Self-doubt and uncertainty…

When the wife in the story above goes home, she is not calm or ready to forgive her husband and start the constructive after-the-fight reconciliation talks. She feels even more hurt than before she left – now thinking she must have an emotional problem for marrying such a bad person, feeling her life is hopeless and out of control, and incited to stand up for herself {or withdrawn into passive aggressive silent treatment as the justified punishment}. She comes home with 10 foot walls around her heart.

Next time the husband is included in a social gathering with these same family members or friends, he is treated differently. There is an icy atmosphere in the air, off-hand comments and a loss of respect for him as person. This ads to the growing mountain of strain the relationship is already enduring.

No wonder so many marriages end in divorce – I often see divorce announcements on Facebook followed by dozens of comments by friends and family bashing the ex-partner and declaring the freedom and “better-offness” of the person making the announcement.

“I’ve got your back”

When we get married, we make a life-choice FOR our partner. To prefer each other above all others. We become the custodian of his or her “brand and reputation”. We become the most intimate curators of their character story. We have the opportunity to love them in a way they have never been loved before, building up trust and unconditional love over time. A concept I liked in the Fireproof movie, was that we become students in the university of *partner’s name here*. In other words, it is our job to be there for them and get to know and understand them better than anyone else in the world.

Who can you talk to about your problems?

My advice would be: Be careful how you talk about your spouse to others. Choose your “counsellors” wisely. Discussing your relationship with the wrong people could make things harder on you and your relationship.

I will never turn to my mom for advice after a fight, because she would take my side in an attempt to make me feel better. However, we have a couple of really close friends we can talk about the things we go through. These friends are:

  1. …for {pro} our marriage
  2. …know that divorce would destroy us
  3. …love both me and my husband as people {and don’t take sides}
  4. …provide us with wise insight and advice that comforts and gives new hope and courage to work things out
  5. …pray with us for our marriage

My husband knows when I talk things through with them, and he will often also reach out to them for advice. We do this both separately and together, with a level of transparency when possible.

So I am not saying we should never talk about our problems, just be selective and intentional when and what to share with whom.

If you are facing a really difficult problem or conflict that friends can’t help you with, there is no shame in seeking help from a marriage counsellor – we have done so at times and our marriage greatly benefited.

Never, ever stay in a relationship where you are abused or cheated on – life is too short.

For the rest of us, hang in there and take courage – most conflicts and problems can be resolved, and will be thoroughly worth it in the end.

Surround yourself with people who encourage you to become a better spouse.

Surround yourself with people who encourage you to become a better spouse.

Proverbs 11:14 – Amplified Bible (AMP)
“Where no wise guidance is, the people fall, but in the multitude of counselors there is safety”.