Do y’all mind if I DON’T talk about Christmas for a second? This has been on my mind for several days so I’m just going to say it despite the lack of holiday theme.
My women friends are so special to me and we do like to talk. We share our problems, our struggles, our needs. Many women talk to me about their problems and often tell me of difficult marriages. It can be so hard to listen to a friend tell you about injustices she lives with through her husband. Many times I’ll learn of very private, heartbreaking situations.
So I have a rule. I never, ever talk badly about my friend’s husbands. I won’t tell her how awful he is or how he should just shape up. I don’t tear him down or council her to stand up to him. I may sometimes think those things, but it is not my place to come between my friend and her husband. The marriage relationship is the most sacred human bond in Scripture, making you one with another person (Mark 10:8).
I am also aware that I am only hearing one side of the story. I don’t think my friend is lying or deceiving me. She’s just venting. I have to remember that. I don’t need to solve her problem. I just need to listen.
So when a friend tells me her husband is unloving toward her, I reply with something like, “Let’s pray for him.” God promises to be there when two or more are gathered in His name (Matthew 18:20). I may give advice, I may not. But it will only be advice for her. I have no business giving advice for him.
For example, if friend complains that her husband doesn’t help disciplining the children I might say, “Let’s think of ways you can build him up to the children and show unity,” or, ” If he won’t get involved, would he mind if you talked to him about your own plans for the kids so he could back you up if there is a problem?” Or maybe, “Be sure you praise the good things he does in front of the children so they know he’s still a part of the parenting.” I might try to help her come up with ways to manage the children without help. But I would not offer any suggestions for things her husband should do. That will only serve to divide them as a couple.
The man is the head of the home (1 Corinthians 11:3). We must remember that when talking with our friends. He is her head. We must not undermine that. He doesn’t have to deserve the position and he answers to God for his actions.
I’m not saying this is easy. Boy sometimes I just want to haul off and give a piece of my mind. That’s why I make it a hard and fast rule. No matter what. No matter how hard. I don’t do it.
Your friend may not like that you don’t seem to sympathize with her by not saying how awful he is. You can assure her that you care deeply, but you can’t do or say anything that would undermine her marriage. You can listen, you can let her bounce ideas off of you, you will be glad to pray with her. I’m telling you, your friends will realize they can trust you when you don’t cut their husbands down. If she asks you to give her advice that she can give to her husband, let her know that you can only give advice for her.
That’s what God does when we turn to Him with our problems. He doesn’t say, “Well that jerk just needs to stop his terrible ways!” He helps us improve ourselves and tells us where to turn.
In my personal experience, this has become a habit. It’s been many years since I made that rule for myself and I’ve had hundreds of discussions with friends about their marriage struggles. After a while, it has became habit and I realized that even in my own heart I am more likely to think kindly of other husbands despite the things I may know about them.
I hope you’re encouraged to make your own rule not to talk badly of your friend’s husbands. If you’re worried that it will affect your friendships, how about making the rule together with your friends. Decide not to do it anymore and ask her not to do it with you.
It’s a step toward being a trusted, godly friend.
“Who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God” 2 Corinthians 1:4