Recently my dear friend stopped by my house for a visit to let her children play with mine. Over coffee we sat and talked. She vented for a long time about her husband. In her rant she said he was not being very romantic. My friend commented that her man is often lazy and unhelpful around the house. She even called him a big jerk.
I simply sat and listened to my friend. I didn’t offer her any advice. I didn’t draw any drastic conclusions that she was having any marital problems. I wasn’t about to look up divorce attorneys or suggest a wild girls night out.
Why? I know better than that!
I know this woman. I know her husband. I have spent time with them as a couple. We spend time with their whole family. They love each other.
On this particular day, I knew my friend was just having a bad moment, a bad day. I knew it would pass and that she just needed to express some irritations she was having.
Let’s face it – all couples argue. Even the most perfect ones on the surface have their issues with one another. One person may spend too much money during the month. The other partner may not be doing enough around the house to help out. Perhaps one partner needs to be more affectionate or attentive to the other spouse.
After my friend left, I didn’t give our conversation another thought. I wasn’t worried for her or her marriage.
Yet an hour later, this same friend sent me a message apologizing about what she said. She felt bad for complaining and saying those things about her spouse. She said she hoped I didn’t feel uncomfortable about her grumbles.
Are you kidding me, I thought? I was so glad that she told me those feelings. It made me feel more normal. It made me think about my own relationship with my husband and how we could possibly even make improvements.
No way, I responded to her. You have nothing to be sorry about. No one wants a “Stepford Wife or Husband.” Most rational folks wouldn‘t want a robot for a spouse either. We all have feelings and emotions. Why hide them?
Now, I’m not suggesting that a husband and wife should have a shouting or wrestling match in front of the neighborhood? But why feel bad about sharing that your marriage isn’t all roses and full of sunshine? Is any marriage that way? Not one I’ve ever seen. Not even one depicted in the movies.
If you’re not ready to talk to your spouse about your complaints, then find a trusted friend, family member or colleague that you trust. My closest friends and I have this agreement, a game we play called “Get the Ugly Out. This is when we meet up in a private setting and voice all our frustrations. Each of us would take turns releasing all our annoyances. We’d say all the mean thoughts we were thinking that may have built up. Soon we’d be laughing and talking about how good our lives are in just a matter of minutes. Sometimes a role-play with your best friend may help the real talk go more smoothly with your spouse, if you need to have one.
If you suspect your friend or your own marriage may be in real trouble, then please do seek professional counseling. Simple Marriage is full of resources and tools that can help couples resurrect their union or simply focus on ways to put that spark back into the relationship.
Don’t overreact from the daily or normal life issues that come up. In fact, learn to embrace them and turn the healthy rant into a positive adjustment. An argument or a complaint may be just what a couple needs. Some disagreement and differences can cause a real communication breakthrough. This may lead to change that’s needed to help the marriage grow in the right direction.
So the next time your pal is complaining about her or his spouse, let her or him know that it’s healthy and normal. Let your friends “get the ugly out” and help them calm down and start a real dialogue with the partner they love.