Is It Ever OK to Gossip About Your Husband?

You’ve met some friends for a glass of wine. Or you’re grabbing a coffee with your best girlfriends at work. Or maybe you’re huddled with some other moms on the sidelines of your kids’ soccer game. And then it starts: gossip about your husbands.

Does This Sound Familiar?

He’s STILL so helpless around the house. It’s like having another kid!

I asked him to pick up the gift for his mom, and he forgot — of course! He’s just useless.

He’s let himself go so much. We’re way beyond “dad bod” here. It’s killing my sex drive!

You’re amused and even titillated at this look into your friends’ marriages. And you can definitely empathize with some of the things they’re going through. In fact, you’ve got a couple of stories about things your husband has done lately. You know they’ll understand where you’re coming from. What’s the harm in a little venting?

Actually, there can be a lot of harm in gossiping about your husband. Here a few things to consider the next time you feel like dishing with your friends.

Is This Really ‘Joking’?

Sometimes there’s a fine line between poking some gentle fun at your husband’s quirks and talking about him contemptuously. You’re probably not doing any harm by sharing a couple of anecdotes about how obsessed he gets with work. However, if you start saying things like “I swear, he knows more about what’s going on with his coworkers than his own kids,” that’s a sign of some serious bitterness behind your jokes.

Would He Be OK With This? Would You?

How would your husband feel if he knew what you were sharing with your friends? Would he laugh at himself, or would he feel that you had betrayed his trust?

And here’s something else to think about: How would you feel if you knew he was gossiping with his friends over an embarrassing mistake you had made? Or if he was complaining to them about your low libido?

If there’s even a small possibility that he would consider what you’re about to say a betrayal, then just don’t say it.

Are You Avoiding Taking Action About Something?

If you’re having a problem in your marriage, gossiping about your husband with friends probably makes you feel better in the moment.
However, if your husband has no idea there is a problem, nothing can change. Does he have any idea how you’re feeling? If not, consider talking to him directly, rather than venting to others.

Is Your Listener Trustworthy?

I do understand that there will be situations in your marriage when you can’t talk to your husband. For example, you may need to get your own thoughts sorted out first or want some advice about how to approach him. In those cases, make sure the person you are confiding in is someone you can trust completely.

Your marriage needs an environment of respect and emotional safety. What you say in one careless moment can instantly undermine that environment. That’s why I urge you to tread very carefully whenever a conversation turns to gossip about your husbands. Take a minute to think through the consequences of sharing information about him, always choosing to protect the trust you have built together over the years.

For more advice about creating a healthy and respectful marriage, pick up copy of my book Strong Women, Strong Love.

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Catch Up on 2015’s Top Posts

2015 top 5

I hope you and your family are enjoying a wonderful holiday season! As 2015 draws to a close, I wanted to look back on the most popular posts during the past year. While these articles have marriage advice you can use all year long, some of these ideas are especially helpful during the busy holiday season.

5. The Science of “Flipping Your Lid”

If you get stressed out at family holiday gatherings, you’ll definitely want to check out this post. Our brains can go into fight-or-flight mode when we’re tired, overwhelmed or feel threatened  — even if the “threat” is just criticism from a family member. We feel flooded with negative emotions that are hard to snap out of. If you feel like you’re about to flip your lid — a couple of warning signs are getting defensive and having trouble truly hearing others — that’s a signal to stand down for a while. Get away from the fray instead of pushing yourself to keep up with the holiday rush. As a couple, plan ahead for a little quiet time (like a quick walk) together in the next few days to head off any flip-outs, especially if you’ll be around relatives who have a knack for pushing your buttons.

4. Emotional Pain Hurts More Than You Realize

One reason certain family members might drive you crazy when you see them is that researchers have found that our brains process physical and emotional pain in much the same way. The insights in the post might help you understand more about why it’s so difficult to be around a distant and withholding parent or a contemptuous sibling. I hope this post will also be a reminder that seemingly small rejections — like mocking your husband’s driving in front of your family — can have a big impact on your relationship.

3. Valentine’s Day Ideas to Rekindle Passion

Yes, this post is about a different holiday, but it has some ideas you can borrow this time of year as well. If you’re stuck on a gift idea for your husband, consider planning an experience to share that’s exciting, that helps you grow or that changes up your routine. Whenever you add novelty and variety, you stoke the fires of passion in your relationship.

2. Chasing Doesn’t Work (No Fooling!)

You need your husband to help more with getting the house ready for your guests. Or maybe it’s getting on your last nerve that he still hasn’t taken care of the gift shopping he told you he’d handle. But, as I wrote earlier this year, “If you’re trying to motivate your husband with an intense, ‘you’re not going to ignore this anymore’ approach, it may backfire, especially if there’s a tone of blame.'”

1.The Truth About Respect and Love

If you want to set a 2016 resolution for your marriage, make it to cultivate an atmosphere of mutual respect in your relationship. What I wrote in this post, which was the blog’s most popular article from 2015, is still true: “Respect is the very soil from which true love sprouts.” But you don’t have to wait until the new year to restore respect if it’s been lost in your marriage. Listen to each other, even amid the holiday hubbub. Compliment each other in front of your family members. Share a laugh about the fact that you love sentimental presents and he loves gag gifts.

If you’d like to read more marriage tips like these, consider purchasing my book Strong Women, Strong Love as a gift for yourself and for your husband. You’ll find lots of ideas to keep your marriage thriving even amid our busy lives.

The Truth About Respect and Love


My Valentine’s Day blog gave tips about firing up the passion in your relationship. This week, I want to talk about something a little less romantic but perhaps even more important: the connection between respect and love.

Just as we want the passion to continue in our relationships, we want the loving feelings, caring and sweetness to go on, as well. Too often we assume that these things take care of themselves. But just like passion, emotional intimacy needs maintenance in your relationship.

And the way to maintain a loving atmosphere in your marriage is to maintain a respectful atmosphere.

In my book, Strong Women, Strong Love, I note that respect is, in many ways, even more important than love in your relationship. Respect is the very soil from which true love sprouts.

In long-term relationships, it’s quite normal for feelings of love and passion to wax and wane over time. If partners have maintained a deep respect for each other, in time, these feelings can be rekindled. However, when there is a serious breakdown of respect, relationships inevitably end up deeply troubled.

Respect in a relationship can be lost unintentionally if we’re not being mindful of it. It’s all too easy to shift into “autopilot” with our spouses and slip into disrespect over time. We get so used to having each other around that sometimes we don’t truly “see” the other person any longer, and we don’t think about the impact of our words and actions. We might end up talking to our spouse without the same common courtesy we’d show a neighbor or colleague. How would your co-workers react if you rarely listened and talked to them mainly to point out what they weren’t doing or what they were doing badly? Your marriage can’t thrive that way, either.

Rebuilding Respect

If you’re ready to strengthen the respect in your marriage so that love can flourish, here are a few fundamentals:

  • Respect means valuing and holding each other in high regard. You can still express your needs and even argue, but you can’t attack your spouse’s dignity if you want your marriage to last.
  • Respect creates feelings of safety and trust in a relationship. It doesn’t matter how clearly you communicate, you’ll never achieve deep emotional intimacy if you say hurtful things when you express your true thoughts and feelings. When there is respect, it’s much easier to get emotionally closer, so don’t be brutally honest.
  • Respect is also about accepting your natural  differences. The fact that the two of you are different is not a problem, unless you devalue each other based on those differences. For example, maybe your husband doesn’t emotionally disclose as readily as you do. If you think you’re a better human being because you’re more in touch with your feelings, that’s a disrespectful stance that can hurt your marriage.
  • Respect is a verb. Show respect and love regularly through your words and actions.
  • Respect and contempt can’t co-exist. According to the Gottman Institute, contempt is the No. 1 predictor of divorce. Treating each other with disrespect will eventually destroy your relationship.
  • Respect for yourself is as essential as respect for your partner.

I write much more about the relationship between respect and love in my book Strong Women, Strong Love. This week, look for ways to build respect in your marriage, whether that means choosing your words more carefully when you want your husband to do something around the house, or exercising your own self-respect by setting boundaries on disrespectful behavior.

Aretha Franklin was right: It really all does come down to R-E-S-P-E-C-T.