I used to think venting helped reduce the weight of a problem. Sometimes you just need to blow off some steam, right? Nobody should expect me to be courteous all of the time. I need to complain behind their back so I don’t end up doing it to their face.
Then I realized that when I vented or complained about someone, it changed the way I interacted with them. If I spent time griping or “blowing off steam” about someone, I always ended up treating them worse when I was around them later. Less respect, less patience, less love. . . The very thing I thought could help drove a wedge between us. I wasn’t actually dealing with the problem. Instead I was focusing on why I was unhappy and how my opinion was the only right one. The only result was more anger and resentment on my part.
That’s why I strongly believe that venting about your spouse can ruin your marriage. I call it the junk food of relationships. It’s like sitting down, opening a big carton of ice cream, and just digging in. Venting feels good at first. It helps you blow off some steam, and it sounds like a great solution to a terrible day. Plunging in feels really good. But moments later, it leaves you feeling worse and it’s done nothing to nurture the relationship.
When things aren’t okay, don’t pretend that everything is alright. But don’t believe that complaining behind their back is the answer. If you need advice, seek it. But just advice. Don’t pretend you need a second opinion when all you want to do is hear someone validate your anger or selfishness. Until we are willing to deal with conflict face-to-face, we will struggle to love and respect others.
It Starts With Me
Instead, focus on the betterment of your marriage. First, decide what you need to change personally. What can you let go of? Where do you need to show more patience? Where do you need to be more selfless? Venting tends to emphasize what I want or where I have been wronged and, in turn, promotes a selfish attitude in the relationship. It starts with me–how I can change to improve the situation, not how my spouse needs to change to accommodate me.
Take The Mail To The Right Address
Decide what you actually need to discuss with your spouse. Is there a legitimate problem you need to solve? Are their actions hurtful or in need of change? Both of you deserve to be heard – that’s ultimately why we vent: to feel heard. But if you have a problem with your spouse, they deserve to know! Certainly before your friends or your mom (or especially your own children!) know. If the issue is with them, then address it with them.
Venting is tricky in relationships because it feels like a healthy and helpful thing to do. But, in reality, it’s just the opposite. Venting about your marriage to others doesn’t improve your marriage, it can ruin it. But when we find ways to deal with frustrations about our marriages in honest, humble, and gentle ways within our marriages, it will make them even stronger.