Too often I have watched partner relationships begin to dissolve from the undue influence of “girlfriend chatter”. What do I mean by “girlfriend chatter”? It’s the commentary and opinions about your partner by well-meaning, (but misguided) friends – particularly, girlfriends.
Mainstream media has a big influence here. Sadly, we see this acted out on reality shows, where the girlfriends are discussing the partner of one of their friends or sister. It’s a level of gossip that hurts the intimacy of any partner relationship.
One of the keys to healthy partner relationships is a deep level of respect – even a sacredness – for the covenant between the parties. There is great trust in relationships where both parties respect that sacredness and refrain from tearing down the other in any public way. Mature partners use counselors or coaches to sort through any rough patch that the relationship is experiencing.
Too often, this is violated in our culture. Instead we see an open discussion of the relationship, where the boyfriend or the husband is talked about from the one-sided lens of the other partner’s complaints and grievances. If you engage in this type of activity, I will assure you that you are diminishing the intimacy of your relationship by doing so.
Relationships are a trust, or a covenant between two people. Too often perfectly good partner relationships are destroyed by the momentum of the negative energy that these conversations produce. Well-meaning (and not-so-well-meaning) girlfriends have no vested interest in that relationship and should not share in the details of it’s challenges.
This kind of friendship culture just produces mayhem. One partner can even be oblivious to the grievances, especially if the other partner has the girlfriend-gossip thing going on. It is true death to emotional intimacy to carry on this way, and very unfair to the partner not represented.
Critical thoughts and words are founded inside the one expressing them. If you find yourself needing to “create a case against” your partner, it’s time to clean up your own game. Becoming critical of the other shows a need to “even up the scorecard” and feel better about your own shortcomings. If you catch yourself doing that, stop!
Instead of spending a night, a lunch or a call complaining about your partner, invest that time in a relationship book – especially one recommended by a friend or mentor who has a happy, long-standing relationship. Another thing that you can do (I have my clients do this process) is to write out what you have done to your partner. That’s a tough thing to confront, and it really is humbling. Then, follow that with some gratitude and appreciation work around him or her, and that clears much of that critical thinking/talk.
I don’t know why our culture celebrates the modeling of negative relationship behaviors. Just guard your own mind and soul from its invasion of your happiness. If a friend of yours embarks on a rant in front of other friends, take her aside and offer to have a coffee with her, to keep things more private.
Your partner relationship IS a sacred covenant. Respecting it as such will fuel more harmony and much more emotional intimacy. That all adds up to a happy, healthy relationship (try it).