Are You Venting or Sharing Too Much? Guidelines for Discussing Your Marriage Issues With Others

You married the love of your life, surely, but this same person who makes you happier than anyone else in the world has the unique capability of also being the one person who drives you crazier than anyone else. Obviously, you can’t talk to your spouse about how crazy they make you, so it’s natural to want to vent. Maybe you’re looking to get your feelings validated, or you just need a listening ear so that you can maintain your sanity. But there’s an easily blurrable line between simple venting and oversharing; and for the benefit of your marriage, you need to understand the difference.

The Effects of Oversharing About Your Relationship

No one knows your partner as well as you do. In fact, the only thing your family, friends and co-workers will know about this person is what they piece together between their interaction with them and what you tell them. That’s it. That means you have a LOT to do with how your partner is perceived by the people you talk to. 

Creating a Negative Bias 

Ever heard the saying “perception is reality”? Whatever you share about your partner will create people’s perception of them. So if you’re constantly complaining, going into details about how crazy they make you and why, the chances of anyone having a positive image of them are slim (read: not likely). This may not seem like a big deal if you’re just talking to a co-worker or someone else who doesn’t really know or speak to your partner, but your partner makes up half of your relationship. If half of your relationship is negative, then it might as well be the whole thing. Anyone who believes your relationship isn’t good won’t be able to give you sound advice, or even be a good sounding board, because in their mind, you’re probably better off alone. 

To give you an example, let’s go way back to when Khloe Kardashian was still married to Lamar Odom. Their marriage started sweetly – a whirlwind romance that landed them at the altar a whole 30 days after they met. I don’t remember much about the details leading to their divorce four years later, but I can tell you that I believe it was his fault. Why? Because all the public heard, on the reality show “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” and in the media, was Khloe’s side of the story, and it certainly didn’t involve any errors on her part. 

Breaking Your Partner’s Trust

Here’s that blurry line I mentioned earlier – if you’re talking to someone about your relationship, you aren’t just sharing your business, you’re sharing your partner’s as well. If you’re married to a private person, or even just someone who is selective about who they share details of their life with, they’re not likely to approve of you going around telling people intimate things they wouldn’t even share about themselves. Even if your partner is someone who considers themselves an open book, the expectation when they tell you something is that it stays between the two of you – even if it’s never expressly stated. 

The infamously private couple, Beyonce and Jay-Z, are a great example of what can happen when you keep the details of your relationship (good or bad) between you and your partner. The Carters have been together for more than 20 years, and although they’ve been the subject of many rumors, they’ve managed to thrive in their marriage and in their partnership. It can’t be easy keeping anything a secret when you’re a celebrity, but the benefit is being able to make decisions that are the best for you, your partner, and your family without the influence of everybody and their auntie (literally). 

Who You Can Share Details of Your Relationship With 

All of this is not to say that you should never share anything about your partner or your relationship. After all, we’re only human and we do need other humans. Here are some things to keep in mind when you’re considering who to open up to: 

Talk to One Trusted Person

It’s better to talk to one person that you know you can trust, than to tell multiple friends and family members. Even if you’d like to get multiple perspectives on something, the fewer people know about one particular detail/issue, the better. 

Find Someone Who Has Your Best Interest At Heart 

We all have that person in our lives who’s always had a negative view either of our partner, our marriage, or relationships in general. This may seem like common sense, but for clarity’s sake let’s spell it out – don’t share things with that person. If you’re going to share details of your relationship, it should be with someone who is rooting for you and your marriage, or at the minimum, who wants to see you happy. 

Don’t Talk to a “Yes Man”

That friend you have who’s known for telling it like it is? That is the person you want to talk to. Relationships and marriage are a touchy subject, and sometimes, in an effort to “stay out of it,” your family or friends might just tell you what you want to hear. What you need is someone who will give you an unbiased, objective perspective, even if it’s not exactly what you want to hear. 

How the Conversation Should Go

Now that you know who you can talk to, here are some tips on what to talk about:

Don’t Ask for Advice, Ask for Perspective 

When someone gives you advice, they’re telling you what they think you should do. In other words, they’re giving you steps to follow to solve your problem. That’s not what you need here. When you’re telling someone about your issues, be clear and let them know that you’re looking for their perspective – their thoughts on the issue itself – not a solution to your problem. The only one who can come up with a solution is you. 

Keep It Relevant 

Be careful not to share details of your partner’s life. It’s tempting to want to give a backstory so that the person you’re talking to can really understand why your partner is acting the way they’re acting, but stick to things that are relevant to the issue at hand, not complaining about your partner’s flaws or talking about their personal life. That’s not your territory to share. 

Some Subjects Should Never Be Discussed 

Anything having to do with your sex life or financial issues should stay strictly between you and your partner, unless you’re talking to a professional. When it comes to sensitive subjects, those two are at the very top of the list. I’m not one to suggest that money and sex talk is forbidden, but when it comes to your marriage, there’s no one outside of your spouse that can give you any perspective of value. The only people who need to be happy with your sex life and financial situation are the two of you, so nothing good can come from looking to anyone else in those areas.

Being married isn’t easy. Anyone who tells you otherwise is a liar. It takes consistent effort and being intentional about leaning into each other during stressful times in order to keep a marriage strong. You can, and sometimes should, share some things about your relationship, but be selective of who you talk to and what you disclose. 

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