“Never talk bad about your spouse to other people. It minimizes your spouse’s integrity and takes away from your character.—Anonymous

what you say about your spouse

There’s a famous line from Bambi you’ve likely heard before: If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. 

But when emotions are high and your spouse is on your nerves, it seems far easier to bad-mouth them than keep it to yourself. 

However, there’s a lasting ripple effect when you speak negatively about your spouse to others. Not only does it create a deeper divide between you and your spouse, but it pits your friends and family against them, too. 

Now, there are certainly times when talking about your spouse with others can lead to breakthroughs. That’s why going about this the right way is imperative if you want to experience a strong and happy marriage. 

Here’s a common scenario for many couples. One of you does something that upsets the other. You each share your side of the story with your friends and family. Your story is a lot of emotion and maybe not so much facts. Of course, your friends and family pick a side. 

Eventually, you and your spouse will make up and move on. Those friends and family, however, might not. 

This can lead to years of disconnect, frustration, and disunity in your marriage and among your extended friends and family. 

It’s not surprising. Your friends and family love you. They want the best for you. When you tell them stories about things your spouse has done that hurt your feelings or made you upset, your friends and family respond accordingly. 

So you have to be cautious about venting to people without seeking solutions. 

Because here’s what can happen if you vent about your spouse to people who can’t do more than listen: you feel guilty, it builds more resentment, and it reinforces a negative view of your spouse that might not be true. 

Among the ONE Family, 42% of you say that you have spoken poorly about your spouse to friends and family sometime in the last year. You’re talking with friends and family about financial issues and sexual challenges. You’re complaining about how your spouse is immature, unhelpful, or unloving. 

As you know, your marriage will go through plenty of highs and lows. Sharing all the lows with your friends and family—instead of addressing them with your spouse—becomes destructive. 

Furthermore, most people you vent to will not know how to solve your problem, especially if you’re talking to single or divorced friends with different perspectives. 

Sure, you can blow off steam. But you’re not finding any solutions. 

So what’s the right approach? 

First, check your motives when talking about your spouse to someone else.  

It’s okay to be a verbal processor and get help to see patterns and find solutions. What’s not okay is speaking poorly about your spouse to feel better about yourself or embarrass your spouse. 

Second, choose wisely who you speak with. Everyone has a bias. Ensure you talk to people who understand your goals of experiencing an extraordinary marriage. 

Third, consider the long-term effects of sharing your thoughts with friends or family. You might be quick to forgive your spouse, but it might be harder for others.  

You should also think about the words you’re saying. How would your spouse feel if they heard you? 

Ultimately, these are conversations you should have with your spouse. If you cannot approach these conversations with your spouse, you should seek professional help. 

While it might feel good in the moment, speaking poorly about your spouse fixes nothing. In fact, it’s a vicious cycle that will keep you stuck instead of making progress.

So get intentional, speak with a marriage coach who can hear both sides of the story, and take action to address the cracks in your 6 Pillars of Intimacy®

Note: The content of this episode does not apply to abusive situations. If you are experiencing any kind of abuse, please seek immediate help. 


US: Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233
UK: call Women’s Aid at 0808 2000 247.
Australia: Call 1800RESPECT at 1800 737 732.
Worldwide: Visit International Directory of Domestic Violence Agencies for a global list of helplines and crisis centers.

The Power of Words to Make or Break Your Marriage

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