The purpose of communication is understanding, connection, and intimacy. (It’s been said that the organ of intimacy is the ear!) Hiding thoughts, fears, hopes, memories, problems, or anything else from your spouse builds a wall between you that can be difficult to tear down.
However, some women (and a few men) use the principle of communication to unload on their spouse. They use their spouse as a dumping ground for every thought and feeling that comes along. That may place a burden on your spouse that is not their place to carry.
Your spouse is not your pastor, your therapist, your 12-step sponsor, or your doctor. God often uses marriage partners to bring much healing to one another, but it’s not your spouse’s primary responsibility to fix you. Expecting them to do so is a form of manipulation and control.
And that drives people apart.
Here’s what the difference looks like:
Communication lets your spouse see and touch the difficult things in your heart. Dumping tries to force your spouse to carry what is yours to own.
- If you’re grumpy because you have a headache or a cold or menstrual cramps, let your spouse know why you seem distant. Then go take whatever medication you need to and be quiet. No need to make both of you miserable.
- If you’re struggling with an addiction to alcohol or pornography or drugs, your spouse needs to know about it. Then get some help, professional if necessary, and do the hard work of recovery. Your spouse is not responsible to do the work of recovery for you.
- If you’re wrestling with regrets from a previous marriage or relationship, your spouse needs to know what those feelings are: it is likely those feelings impact how you respond today. But if you need to discuss those regrets in detail, that’s not a burden your spouse can carry. Find someone safe to help you through those issues.
- If you have a mental/emotional illness such as anxiety, depression, or PTSD from child abuse or other violence, your spouse needs to understand what you are struggling with. Then you must take responsibility yourself for becoming as healthy as you can, getting help if you need it.
Your mental/emotional state impacts your spouse’s wellbeing. That’s the primary reason they need to know what you’re dealing with. They need to know what they might do to support you, and that you are not hiding from them. If your spouse knows that they are not the cause of whatever is troubling you, they will be much more willing and able to help where they can.
Open your heart to your spouse about what’s going on with you; it will bring you closer. Your spouse can probably help, but they can’t fix you. Don’t expect them to.
Here’s what you need to remember:
DON’T HIDE: DON’T DUMP
If you need someone to unload your burdens to, that roll belongs to God. His shoulders are the only ones that are big enough.
Your turn: Are there things you don’t “discuss” with your spouse? Why or why not? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
If you enjoy these posts, why not receive them in your email inbox? You can sign up with your email address right here: