How I talk to my friends about my husband has a huge impact on how I feel about him and our life together. Do my friends encourage me to stay positive or is "Girls Night Out" just an excuse to complain about our men? How should true friends talk to each other about husbands or marriage?
When I was a single lady, before he put a ring on it, my girlfriends and I would talk about guys. Our conversations were all about looking out for "number one" and rightfully so. We looked out for ourselves and one another. We were vigilant against any bad attitudes, harsh words, or unkind treatment inflicted upon us by these guys. They had to live up to our high standards. We made lists of what we were looking for in a perfect mate. We would not allow any guys to treat us badly or come between us as friends.
I've been married for 8 years now, and I need a very different type of support from my girlfriends.
I need friends who, mixed in with the laughter, chick flicks, mani/pedi's, and tearful talks, will push me to fight for a happy marriage.
Our conversations can't be about looking out for "number one" anymore. I need girlfriends who will look out for my marriage. Friends who will be vigilant against bad attitudes, harsh words or unkind treatment... that I unleash on my husband. Friends who won't just "allow" me to put my husband before them, but who actually encourage me to do so.
When I got married, I took vows, irrevocable vows, "for as long as we both shall live." And though I hope to maintain my female friendships until the end of my days, I never "vowed" to do so.
This is a difficult role for most women and counter to our culture. Women are supposed to support women, take the side of their friends, not their friend's husband. "Don't let him treat you like that! He’d better apologize! What an idiot! I would never let anyone talk to me that way! I can't believe him! What a jerk!" None of these things help our friends stay married, let alone happily married.
I need friends who will help me remember his strengths rather than encourage frustration and bitterness.
My husband may not always be perfect. In fact, I am 100% positive he will never be perfect, because none of us are. But I don't need someone else to remind me of that. My own imperfect nature has no problem finding (and pointing out) my husband's imperfections.
Remembering his strengths can be difficult when everyone is discussing what’s wrong with their men. Who am I to bring up all the things right with mine? And when you bring up an annoying trait in your husband, you just reminded me, my husband does that too! And on we go. Pointing out the weaknesses in the ones we said we’d love and cherish.
I need friends who will encourage me to show him unconditional love, bathed in grace and mercy, the way Jesus loves me.
We can't control our husbands, but we can control how we treat them. I, for one, want to stand before my God knowing that with single-minded determination, I did everything in my power to be the best wife I could be, whether my husband deserved it or not.
After all, that's what Christ has done for me. He loved me and sacrificed for me, even though I didn’t deserve it. And that’s what I want to do for my husband.
This is not only the kind of friend I need. It’s also the kind of friend I strive to be.
I sometimes wonder, which of my friends will still be married years from now? Who will have had a happy life together? And could I have had a better influence on the outcome?
Marriages aren't built in a day, and they don't fall apart that quickly either. And of course, I don't have control over other people's marriages. But I can control my own tongue. I don’t want to look back on times when we sat around complaining about our husbands or making what seemed like innocent jokes at their expense. I don’t want to wonder if my conversations helped sow seeds of discontent.
That’s why I say friends need to help friends stay (happily) married. Here’s some practical ways to make that happen.
1. Don't complain about your husband, ever. Seriously ever.
- Instead, make a personal commitment to yourself and your friends that you will speak well of your husband always, in all circumstances, or say nothing at all.
- Keep a running list of what is great about your husband and the good things he has done, so that when you are tempted to talk in a negative or embarrassing way, you can think and talk about his strengths instead.
- When his negative traits come to mind, get in the habit of immediately reminding yourself of your own weaknesses and how Christ has forgiven you for it (OUCH!)
2. Don’t encourage your friends to complain about their husbands, ever. Seriously ever.
- When a friend talks about her husband, be careful how you respond. Don’t encourage more complaining. Encourage a loving response and reconciliation.
- Keep your eye out for what is great about your friends' husbands, so you can remind them when they seem to forget.
3. When you talk about your husband, choose your words carefully.
- Maybe you aren't negative or "complainy" about your husband... but ask yourself, would your husband like what you say about him? How you talk about him? Would he be embarrassed? Do you "share" things he would rather keep private?
- When you need to talk to a trusted girlfriend about a specific problem or frustration, do so with your heart focused on finding a solution, not to vent or get someone else on your side.
4. Work on building your own character, instead of dissecting his.
- Be honest with yourself. Really think about your own weaknesses. If you don't know where you fall short, have a serious talk with your husband or (if you don't feel comfortable with that) pray about it.
- Be honest with each other. Tell your friends about your weaknesses. Ask tough questions and give honest answers about how you are each doing as wives!
- Get to work. Choose one area at a time you can work on, set tangible goals, pray for God’s help in these areas, and give your friends permission check on your progress.
- For your marriage, often.
- For your husband, even more often.
- For your friends’ marriages (maybe by setting aside a specific day each week or time of day. Be dedicated & intentional!)
Finally, if you have a friend who seems to regularly speak negatively about her husband, pray for her, him, their marriage, and look for an opportunity to ask, “What's going on?” She may not even realize how her remarks sound to others!
These are some things that work for me. Do you have other ideas? How have your friends helped you strengthen your marriage?