I’m a pro social media guy. If you follow me, you know I post just about everything. I try to keep most of my tweets/posts about things that are edifying or of comedic value. But as you well know, social media is a breeding ground for venting. One my personal pet peeves on social media is a venting post with zero ability to be constructive and ends with, “just sayin’.”
It’s always the quandary I find myself in as a pastor. I’ve drawn certain boundaries in my posting when it comes to my opinions about issues. My choice in those boundaries help me to not walk with reactionary posting but to carefully chose what represents me.
In the name of free speech we blast people, political parties, sports teams, and churches. We harness the right to post what we want without wondering if it’s really right to do it. I understand the need to talk things through (my afternoon and evenings are filled with appointments like that). But I’m afraid in the name of “venting,” we’ve done more damage to our marriages than helping them.
A great rule of marriage communication is this: Never talk badly about your spouse to other people or vent about them online. Protect your spouse at all times and in all places. Your marriage is (should be) the closest human relationship you have. If it’s not there (yet), then being a “protector” instead of a “vent-or” (not really a word) is a great place to start building health back into your marriage. Don’t run from conflict. Face it in a healthy way and watch God bless your marriage.
Instead of venting about your spouse, here’s some help on appropriately dealing with your spouse.
1 – Go to the source of the offense before you go to sources of venting. Matthew 18 gives us a great start to dealing with people who have offended us (especially our spouse). If your spouse is the source, go to him/her first.
2 – Keep your communication open and clear. The words “open and clear” make us keep in mind that communication is more than verbiage. Like good plumbing, keep blockages from the flow of communication by removing what will clog up what you are trying to convey. For example:
– Attitudes have to be adjusted.
– Timing must be appropriate.
– Mannerisms and countenance must give a disposition of healthy confrontation instead of attack.
– Keep others and their opinions out.
– Clothe yourself in humility.
3 – Don’t build up support. It’s easy to find people to rally to your side AND you know who they are. They’re getting your side of the story and that’s not okay. You’re presenting a one-sided argument to them and they’re biting the hook. Protect your spouse by making sure that he/she isn’t going to feel ganged up on. When you back someone into a corner, they come out swinging and end up doing more damage out of pure survival instincts. Keep your biz between you and your spouse. (Don’t forget that rallying family to your side is just as, if not more, damaging.)
4 – Protect your spouse. People like to offer their opinions (especially family members). Opinions get offered but they don’t need to be accepted. You may be hurting in your marriage, but protect your spouse. The entertaining of negative rants, bad attitudes, and ignorant rants are toxic to your heart. Don’t tolerate it. Why? What you don’t deflect, you will reflect. What you reflect, you will ultimately embrace. Step away from the toxic stuff and protect your spouse.
5 – Seek appropriate counsel. Appropriate counsel is someone who…
– …will objectively look at your situation without letting friendship/relationship dictate direction.
– …will NOT just tell you what you want to hear. He/she must be willing to have the tough convo with you.
– …will lean upon Biblical principles and not emotional decisions.
– …will recognize there is another side to the story. (Your perspective isn’t the only perspective in the situation.)
– …will depend upon the Holy Spirit for direction.
– …will breathe hope and not distress into your life.
– …will have the guts to call out unhealthy behaviors.
My final thoughts go to an amazing narrative in scripture found in 1 Samuel 14. Jonathan is looking to move forward into conflict. Traveling with him is his armor-bearer. The armor-bearer could have asked to stay behind and refused to go with him. But his reply is priceless,
“Do all that you have in mind,” his armor-bearer said. “Go ahead; I am with you heart and soul.” 1 Samuel 14:7
We need spouses who are willing to approach battles/conflict “heart and soul” with each other. It’s a decision that is done as individuals as well as a couple. But to you reading this…let it start with you first. Be the first one to step up and proclaim, “I am with you heart and soul.”
Conflict is inevitable. We are a broken people living in a broken world which means that life can take us through some sucky situations. But we have a Savior who is an overcomer. He is with us “heart and soul.” And if “God is for us, who can be against us?” If our overcoming God is with us, there isn’t an insurmountable situation he cannot help us walk through…heart and soul.
I believe the best is yet to come for your marriage. Keep trusting in Christ. Keep walking in healthy marital habits.
Thanks for letting me ramble…