Monday, July 11, 2011

Monday Marriage Matters: Talking about your marriage

For some reason, when it comes to talking about my marriage, my instinct is to downplay how good it is.  I talk about how hard it is, how often we fight, how often my partner is annoyed at things that I do, or how often my partner is annoying.  I'm not sure why this is - whether it is too many years of bad TV shows with idiot husbands and their wives making fun of them; too many people in my life who talk smack about their own marriages; or maybe I'm just a negative person.  Because I know that it isn't because I have a bad marriage, because I don't.  But it has not escaped me that when I talk to other people, I sometimes put the emphasis on the bad parts.

With some people, it's a way of commiserating.  I know their relationships are difficult, and I don't want to rub in how good mine is.  With some people, particularly people who are older, divorced, or getting divorced, it's a way of trying to show that I'm not young, stupid, or delusional about my marriage.  With some people, it's a way of letting them know that I am secure in my relationship - that we fight, but it's our way of asking for what we need from each other.  But with some people, it's just me whining or trying to be funny, because through years of social conditioning, I've learned that it's funny to complain about your partner's flaws.

I know two things though: my partner doesn't talk about me or our marriage like I do, and I need to be more positive.  So how do I approach being more positive, without making myself seems silly?  How do I turn off complaining about my partner when sometimes I need to vent?  How do I talk about the difficult parts of my relationship without airing our dirty laundry all over town?

What do you do when you talk about your partner?  Are you able to stop yourself from complaining or being negative?  Do you have one or two specific people you do all your complaining to?


  1. "whether it is too many years of bad TV shows with idiot husbands and their wives making fun of them; too many people in my life who talk smack about their own marriages"

    I don't really have any advice, but I wanted to agree that there's a lot of pressure to paint a marriage in a negative light - from media, from friends, or as you said, so as not to seem "young, stupid, or delusional about my marriage."

    To me, this is where APW/reclaiming wife really bolster me. I really, really think it's important to be honest about the good parts of marriage, without somehow rubbing it in people's faces or making it sound like we're delusional. I usually just shut up IRL when people discuss how idiotic their spouse, what a drag marriage is, or when divorced people give me "wait and sees." But it makes me feel bad later. I know if I told the truth, though, people would roll their eyes or call me naive or Pollyanna-ish, though.

  2. We're not married yet, (long term, committed relationship, with marriage hopefully on the horizon, but a few years out) but what I tell people when they ask about our relationship, is that my partner is the absolute best thing in my life, because it's true. Even when we're yelling each other and very mad, he's still the best thing in my life.

    I think it's really important to not voice most of your negative feelings about your partner. Discussing your issues with your partner to work through them, surely, but I think the whole... letting everything out and venting thing sort of re-enforces your bad feelings about your partner (rather than your good ones). By venting about your partner and talking badly about your partner and relationship, you re-enforce that feeling in your brain.
    So I vent about my partner issues with no one. I might discuss problems with my sister or best friend, but I try very hard to make it not venting or bad mouthing.

  3. I just realized that my above post could be interpreted much differently than I meant it. I didn't mean that you shouldn't discuss issues or rough spots, or the hard bits of relationship/marriage. I think it's important to help foster a realistic view of the world in yourself and those around you by talking about both the good and bad in life, rather than fostering either fuzzy bunny or doom and gloom views of the world.
    That said, I'm specifically talking about your partner. I think that the only words one should VOICE (not think, you think what you think) about your partner should be supportive, or at the most, mildly grumpy, that it is always important to verbally build up rather than tear down your partner, in their presence and behind their back. After all, they are your team, so if you tear down your teammate, you tear down yourself.