When your marriage is on the ropes and you’re feeling hopeless, it’s natural to want someone to lean on. That’s why lots of people turn to various people in their lives to share their problems at home and get advice. But be careful where you turn, or you may compound the stress on an already-fragile marriage.
1. Friends of the Opposite Sex. It’s a tale as old as time: one friend begins to confide in another, and as they talk through her problems and she offers support and consolation, something more happens. Without ever intending to, they’ve formed an emotional bond that’s inappropriate and can easily lead to an affair. Suddenly, a marriage that had some problems has even more. If you must talk to a friend, make it a friend of the same gender.
2. Those Sour on Marriage. Misery loves company, so we have a natural desire to go to a place where we think our feelings and opinions will be validated rather than challenged. Those in a marriage crisis will sometimes turn to another unhappily married or divorced friend whom they know will say, “Believe me, I know. You’ve gotta do what’s best for you.” But is that the smart thing to do? Wouldn’t it make more sense to talk to a friend who’s happily married who might offer insight you don’t already possess?
3. People Who Don’t Share Your Values. If you view marriage as a covenant relationship between you, your spouse, and your God, why would you consult with someone who doesn’t share that fundamental belief? Once the core values are removed from the marriage equation, all bets are off, and you’re left with nothing but what you feel to guide you—and that’s dangerous ground. Make sure your advice is coming from someone who shares your most important beliefs. This goes for choosing a counselor too.
4. The Local Gossip. Your spouse, no matter how at odds you may feel, deserves your protection and respect. Sharing your marriage problems with someone who’ll broadcast them all over town is just another dagger thrown. Make sure that anyone you speak with candidly can be trusted to keep your confidence. It would be a shame for you and your spouse to get things worked out between you, only to have either of your reputations irreparably and unnecessarily damaged.
5. Your Parents. This warning is more of a judgment call, but it deserves consideration. As a parent, you know how hard it is to forgive someone who mistreats your child. Unfortunately, that doesn’t change with time. If you dump all of your spouse’s weaknesses and dirty laundry out for your parents to peruse, it will be much harder for them to forget than it will be for you. When your marriage is back on track, you’ll have the added work of helping your side of the family to trust and love your spouse again in an uninhibited way. Think long and hard before you make mom or dad your marriage counselor.
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