A husband wonders how and with whom he can seek advice without being disrespectful to his wife or marriage.
This question comes from a piece by GMP contributor Marcus Williams.
Dear Sexes: My wife and I have a great relationship and we love each other very much. However, I do find myself wanting and needing someone to talk to about my marriage. Sometimes I want to vent, sometimes I want advice, sometimes I just want someone to listen to the intimate details of what we’re going through. Talking to my family is bad because I don’t want to change the way they see either of us, and the same goes for our mutual friends. I have a best guy friend, but when I talk to my guy friends, I feel disrespectful of my wife, because I’m not the type of guy who engages in locker-room talk about conquests. How can I talk about my marriage without being disrespectful to my wife?
She Said: First, let me say how cool and stand-up it is of you to think first about respecting your wife! And just so you know, I know a lot of guys who wonder the same thing. There is a double standard as far as what women are “allowed” to confide in one another and what we allow husbands in our society to talk about. You wouldn’t believe how my girlfriends and I dish about sex, love, fighting, and body hair! Everyone needs an outlet, everyone deserves an outlet.
I would go to your most trusted guy-friend and just lay it out. “Listen, man, I have some things going on with my wife, and I’d love to run them by you. You know I love and respect my wife, but I’m hoping I can just sort of shoot the shit with you and that I can trust you to give me advice, but also not to judge her or me. Would that be cool?”
If you have a female friend, it could be dicier. Sometimes these conversations become a little more intimate than the ones we normally have with same sex friends. If you do choose a best female friend to confide in, just be sure you’re clear with your boundaries and you never infer that you think your friend may be “better” than your wife in any way.
He Said: Your thoughtfulness for your wife and her feelings is great (it really is), but you shouldn’t feel badly for taking care of yourself. It isn’t cheating, nor is it (necessarily) disrespectful to talk to others about your marriage. There’s bragging and there’s venting. If you’re just bragging about you and your wife’s private lives, then you could have something to be concerned about. But if you’re venting, you have nothing to be ashamed of.
True, it may be difficult to find the right avenue for your needs, and you have to choose wisely, but there are viable options out there. The right professional (therapist, psychologist, psychiatrist, etc.) may offer you a safe environment to vent. But if professional advice isn’t your thing, I promise there are regular guys out there who can honor your needs to talk, without dishonoring your wife or your marriage.
It’s true, guys like to engage in crass locker-room talk—but not all guys, and not all the time. From the sound of things, you just need to find more guy friends like yourself—considerate and thoughtful. When you find those dudes, vent freely and confidently. In the end you’ll feel much better, and your wife and marriage will reap the benefits. Talk on!
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Originally appeared at SheSaidHeSaid.
—Photo D’Arcy Norman/Flickr