We get in a knock down drag out fight with our husband of 15 years over a credit card bill that never got paid…it gets ugly. We raise our voices to a decibel level that should be reserved for heavy metal rock concert, and do our best to make our partner see how very, very wrong he is. Not only do we not win the argument, but we are left emotionally bruised by his malicious responses to our nasty diatribe.
Upset and angry, we call our very best friend, our faithful sounding board, for her understanding and compassion, and she shares our fury at our husband. In fact, she throws in a few extraneous comments about other dim-witted things he has done over the years to deserve our outrage. We simmer in annoyance together for a solid hour on the phone, and we both hang up heavy under the weight of our judgments against him. She’s being a good and loyal friend right?…Not so fast.
With a little less than one out of two marriages ending in divorce, it’s pretty clear matrimony is no leisurely stroll in the park. It requires a hard core focus on personal responsibility and solid commitment to navigate its often rocky terrain. So is our friend really a help, or is she a hindrance, when she panders to our desires to indulge in complain-fests on a regular basis?
The authors of A Feminine Manifesta…Lily Hills and Karen Hudson, best of friends since the first day of High School, suggest that our best friend can and should support us in creating healthy and passionate marriages, and jumping on the judgment bandwagon when it comes to the unappealing behaviors of our friend’s man only serves to weaken the relationship.
How do they suggest women support each other in keeping the love alive?
First they say that a download of the argument, complaint or incident is inevitable. We women often need to vocalize our frustrations in order to generate understanding and explore solutions to our marital predicaments. Fair enough, However, these friends suggest that we out load our gripes just once, so as not to overindulge the part of us that would rather stay immersed in the problem than generating resolution. Rather than repeating the same gripes over and over and over again, they suggest, tell your side of the story to your chum, but try to minimize the time spent in the complaint. Use your feminine side to generate understanding and compassion for your partner’s point of view. This can be a tough thing to remember when you are so frustrated with your partner that your eyes are popping out of your head. However, as crazy as their perspective may seem to you, remember, they believe their side of the story, as much as you believe yours. And the more you can come from genuine understanding in your response, the more likely they are to open up to your perspective. Remember to focus your energy in finding ways to resolve the conflict as you get your needs met, also a feminine trait. Not always easier, the authors acknowledge, but much smarter in the long run if you want to maintain a loving marriage.
Second, they suggest that before you approach your partner after an argument, or even prior to approaching a sensitive topic (i.e. your sex life, a financial dilemma, a hygiene issue) tell your friend three things you love about your husband. Maybe the three top reasons he was able to nab your heart in the first place. This will partially diffuse the harsh judgments you’re feeling in the moment that will make you more likely to attack him than approach him. When you think of three things you appreciate about your partner, it will organically lend itself to a more gentle and soft tone. Rather than coming at him in anger or frustration, you’ll be centering yourself in your feminine side prior to delivering the feedback to him, or making a request of him. If you are having a difficult time bringing his more charming qualities to mind in the moment, it’s your best friend’s job to draw attention to them. While your gal pal can certainly show empathy and understanding for your state of affairs, to fuel the flame of your frustration by putting in her two cents about what a jerk your husband was for forgetting to pick up your dry cleaning only creates additional conflict that can spiral out of control. As alluring as a whine fest may be, your best friend’s job is to champion your marriage, not weaken it.
Third they suggest that you practice exactly how you are going to approach your husband before delivering a sensitive message. Take a trial run where your best friend plays the role of your husband…and come from your feminine side.
These simple practices, they say, over time naturally create stronger communion. Again…not always easy…but always the smarter approach in marriage.
It seems like these best friends have found the smarter path and they’re sticking to it. “Having support in creating peace in one of the most important relationships in your life is flat out smart.”