I bet you’ve had the same experience I have. You are out to lunch and there is a table of ladies one booth over who are having a great time entertaining each other at their husbands’ expense. You overhear story after story accentuating their husbands’ weaknesses and how clueless and frustrating they are to live with. The ladies are trying to one up each other with the tales they have to tell illustrating what an idiot they are married to.
It makes my stomach churn. Partly because while I’m listening to it from the outside, I remember times in the past when I told a tale of my own in a moment of weakness, and I regret it deeply. It is so apparent from the outside how wrong it is to talk this way about your spouse. But, when you are at that table with your friends, it is sooo easy to forget the feelings of the man you made a covenant to love, honor, and cherish. The temptation to join in the bash fest is real and your respect for his feelings and privacy can vanish like the piece of cheesecake you ordered for dessert.
The ironic thing is that when we make our husband out to look like an idiot, we are some how oblivious to the fact that in the same breath we are declaring our own idiocy, since we were the ones foolish enough to have chosen of our own free will and choice to marry this supposed buffoon, right?
The truth is– these ladies and you and me– we didn’t really choose to marry buffoons. At least I know I didn’t. But, in these bash fests we tend to compare our strengths to their weaknesses just for the thrill of hearing our friends laugh. It is kind of like we are back in Jr. High again- immature and insecure, putting someone else down to try and make ourselves feel good. But that fleeting laughter is in no way worth what it costs our marriage when we denigrate our spouse on a regular basis this way. We betray our spouse and the covenant we’ve made with them when we throw them under the bus for a few moments of entertainment for our friends.
Can you imagine how you would feel if you watched your husband and a group of his friends sitting around talking about what an idiot you are and all the stupid things you’ve done? I’m not saying this doesn’t happen, but in my experience it is way less common for a group of men to sit around bashing on their wives. They have things to work on in different areas, of course, but we seem to excel at criticizing others as women.
Girlfriends are wonderful. There is a fantastic bond that we share with those awesome women in our lives who totally get us and are there for us any time we need them. Like me, you are probably super loyal to your girlfriends and do all you can to build them up when you are with them.
Husbands are also wonderful and there is a fantastic bond that we share with them that a girlfriend can never duplicate. They are there for us in a myriad of ways that we sometimes take for granted.
Are we as loyal to our husbands as we are to our girlfriends? Do we look for ways to build our husband up when we are with him? And when he’s not around, do we build him up in the eyes of others, or do we tear him down? We don’t expect our girlfriends to act like our husbands, so why do we expect our husbands to act like our girlfriends?
One of the saddest things about a husband bash fest is that your friends don’t get to see your husband on a daily basis. They don’t see his strengths and all the good that he does. They don’t witness the sacrifices he makes for you and your family and how much he loves and cares about you like you do. They only walk away with your story. Is that really how you want your friends to perceive your husband? Because the next time they see him, that story is what will come into their mind. They may view everything he says and does through that lens instead of seeing the entirety of who he is as a person.
If something annoys you about your husband, the best person to share that with (in a loving way) is your husband. Work it out with him instead of venting to your girlfriends. If you have more serious problems and need a counselor, get a counselor. Sometimes you may not need a counselor, but you do need to confide in someone in order to get the help or advice you need. Choose a trusted friend or family member who knows and loves your spouse. Someone who will respect you and your husband’s privacy. Be sure to offer up all the good things about your husband to them along with the problems you are facing.
And PLEASE, do not engage in online husband bashing via Facebook! Nothing is more awkward for others to read and unfair to your spouse than working out your daily marital issues online for everyone else to see. Just don’t.
The fact of the matter is, our choices, perceptions, and what we choose to focus on greatly determine whether we are happy and satisfied in our marriage or not. If you did marry a buffoon, or a jerk, this doesn’t apply to you of course. And I’m sorry that you are in the situation you are in. But, if you married a decent guy or even a great guy with normal weaknesses, try to focus on all the things you love about your spouse instead of the insignificant annoying things. Use the degree of mercy you would hope he would use with you. Show him the respect you want him to show you. Don’t demand a level of perfection out of him you can hardly achieve yourself.
Remind him of the things you love about him often. Because the interesting thing is, we tend to try to be what the people whose opinions matter most to us tell us we are. So, carefully choose the messages you send your husband about how you feel about him on a daily basis. By building him up, you will help him become the husband you want him to be.
Our relationship with our spouse is the one relationship that we have made a vow to nurture and protect forever- or at least until death. Yet, we put other relationships ahead of it so much of the time. Why? We just need to stop.
So, here is my challenge to myself and all of us. The next time you find yourself in the middle of a husband bash fest, jump in as quickly as you can and share something great about your husband. See if you can change the direction of the conversation. Interestingly enough, I have found that if just one person shares something great about their husband, the one up game takes a positive turn and everyone starts sharing the best things about their husbands. Instead of walking away from your lunch feeling a little guilty or disenchanted with your marriage, you will walk away feeling uplifted with love in your heart towards your spouse. And so will your friends… And maybe the lady sitting in the booth next to you as well. 😉
So, what do you say we start a little husband bragging fest right now? I’ll go first. My husband loves and serves people who are hard to love. He sees everyone as valuable and makes them feel valuable, and I love that about him. He is also much better at finding his fun side with our kids and their friends than I am and I love watching him play with them. I could go on and on because I am really quite taken with this guy, but I I want to hear from you. Comment and tell me some of your favorite things about your spouse so we can all feel warm and fuzzy about it. 🙂