Is there anything wrong with seeking support from my Facebook friends when I need to let off steam about my marriage? Sometimes I get frustrated and upset with my spouse, and at those times I feel like I need to express my feelings to someone who cares and understands. Do you think this is a healthy way to handle these emotions?
There's a place for "venting" in any relationship, but that place is not Facebook, Twitter, or any other form of social media. If you air your dirty laundry in an open and general forum, you'll only hurt your marriage and destroy any sense of trust that may still remain between you and your spouse.
"Venting" is intensely personal. It's not about broadcasting your negative thoughts to a general audience. Instead, it's a method of "de-briefing" with intimate supporters whom you trust. It should be done with one or two people who understand your situation and who have some kind of personal interest in the emotions you're expressing. The purpose is to get your feelings out in the open so that you can take a second look at them, view them more impersonally, and evaluate them. This is an important part of the process of communicating with loved ones, setting and re-adjusting goals, and making necessary changes. We all need to "vent" once in a while, both for our own sake and for the sake of those who are closest to us. But this should only be done in a private setting with a trusted confidant.
"Venting," then, is a private matter. Interactions via social media, on the other hand, are public. Many of us tend to think of a Facebook posting as something that stays between "friends." In actuality, this kind of communication is relatively open-ended. Whether you realize it or not, it has the potential to reach a much wider audience than you may have intended in a very short time. Once you've put something "out there," you have no way of controlling the forwards and second-postings by "friends" and "friends of friends." A good rule of thumb is, "Don't post anything on social media that you wouldn't want to see printed on the front page of The New York Times."
If you need to vent, we recommend that you take it off-line. Marital frustrations are something you should discuss with your spouse, not a wide circle of friends and acquaintances. If the two of you find it difficult to communicate, seek out a trained marriage counselor who can help you work through your issues. If you have a burning desire to let someone else know what's going on, open your heart to a spiritual mentor, a pastor, or a close friend. Don't make yourself vulnerable with anyone but a person you know you can trust. As for your Facebook "friends," you can let them know that you need prayer without discussing any details. That's as much information as they require.
If you need help dealing with your marital problems, don't hesitate to give our Counseling Department a call. Our staff counselors will be happy to listen to your concerns and offer their perspective over the phone. They can also provide you with referrals to qualified counselors in your area who specialize in marriage and family therapy. You can contact them Monday through Friday between 6:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. Mountain time at 855-771-HELP (4357). The Family Help Center staff member who answers the phone will arrange for a licensed counselor to call you back. One of them will be in touch just as soon as they're able. It will be their privilege to serve you in any way they can.
In this iQuestions video from Focus on the Family, Gary and Barb Rosberg discuss what are are appropriate boundaries when it comes to talking about your spouse with others.
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