About a year ago, I posted this on my own blog. I think it's still a valid topic. I have a busy week, so I'm re-posting it here, slightly modified.
Can I vent?
Have you ever asked someone that? Or been asked that? I remember when I had small children, my girlfriends and I would do that: talk about how frustrating it was to repeat something over and over again to no avail; bemoan the always increasing pile of laundry; mourn over the never ending cycle of colds shared throughout the house. We weren't really looking for advice, we were just venting. Venting is not looking for counsel. It's mostly just complaining.
I knew from the beginning of my relationship with my husband that he is a private person. I learned very quickly not to vent to anyone about him. I have, however, sat among a group of women where that happened frequently. And I left those situations wishing I'd had the courage to say, "stop!" Venting about our husbands, (or anyone else for that matter), is a bad idea.
Please, please don't misunderstand me. I am not talking about women who have serious sin issues with a husband, like domestic abuse or addictions like pornography, gambling, or substance abuse. Domestic abuse and addiction are ugly realities that seep into even Christian marriages, and need to be exposed. When a woman wants to discuss serious situations like that, it isn't venting.
Venting isn't about asking for counsel. It is about complaining, and often about fairly insignificant things. Instead of taking these complaints into a conversation with our friends, we ought to discuss them with our husbands, not the world at large.
Venting about husbands is a disrespectful a violation of privacy. I don't want to know the faults of my friend's husband. I just want her to have a good marriage, and I want to support her with my friendship. I want to like my friend's husband, not have my opinion coloured by her complaints.
One way we can show love to our husbands is to speak well of them everywhere. To regularly vent about my husband means I'm not speaking well of him. When a friend continually vents to me, I need to have the courage to suggest she not do it. She needs my support and love, not me nodding my head and agreeing. And if we are silent during such times, will our friend assume our agreement?
Venting in groups is especially problematic, because when one begins, it's often motivation for others to start. It begins to escalate out of control. You know what? I know other people's husbands have faults. Just like you know my husband does. But how is group venting about those faults glorifying God or encouraging anyone? When Paul exhorts women to "respect" their husbands (Eph. 5:33) does that include publicly tearing him down? Would we feel loved by our husbands if they sat among a group of men and tore us down, complaining that we needed to lose a few pounds or take a few cooking lessons?
If you have a friend who comes to you and vents about her husband, criticizing him, do you not think she would do the same about you? Maybe she vents to her husband about you.
We need to overlook petty differences, determine what is a serious issue, and prayerfully consider how to cope with them. When we have serious problems we should be careful about whom we allow into those situations and limit it to a very few trusted individuals. My suggestion would be a pastor, older woman, or relative.
Speak well of your husband in public. Be an example to other wives around you, and keep those petty complaints about your husband to yourself. Before you share that story with your friends, ask yourself if it's a violation of your husband's privacy, and ask what the purpose is. If there is no good purpose, silence is better.