If we are going to be in community with married people one of the things we as single people need to do is learn how to fight for our friends marriages. This is kind of tricky because typically (certainly not always) we are much closer to one of the two people. This makes it much easier to just listen and go along with them. We need to dig deeper. We bring a unique perspective and we need to use it. We don’t have what they have and we ought to point that out occasionally. We need to remind them of the gift they have.
It drives me crazy when guys complain about their wives. Not because I don’t have one but because most of the time it’s just them not dealing with their own stuff. Now there is nothing wrong with sharing everything about what is going on, including the hard stuff, with a couple of close friends – that is a good thing and sometimes you get it out there and then process through it. That’s important. But there is a big difference between that and randomly complaining about your wife, disparaging her, or using her as an excuse.
Guys do this subtly all the time. “My wife won’t let me . . . ” “Yeah get married and then you won’t have sex.” “Let me ask the Boss first?” “I love my wife but. . . “, “Man, I want to do . . . but I’ve got to call my wife. Sigh”. “I could do so much more (work, make money, ministry, etc), but . . ” You get the idea – and that is the subtle stuff. Worse is when they start airing dirty laundry or just straight up bad mouth her, (again huge difference between this and sharing hard stuff in a small group of trusted confidants). For free if you are married and reading this – You should never and I mean never bad mouth/bring up dirt about or otherwise disgrace your spouse in public. I mean absolutely never. Never.
Here is where we get to step in. Often, I’ll say, something like “I’ll tell you what, I’ll trade you my (freedom, ability to golf that day, go out late, or whatever) for your wife and three kids. Deal?” Most of the time that will change the temper of the conversation. The point here is that we need to stand up for their marriage and many times this means standing up to our friend. And whatever you do don’t pile up on the spouse – horrible idea. Sometimes their spouse is wrong and it’s good to acknowledge that, but also remind them that their wife is beautiful, that you like her, that even though it’s tough you believe in the couple. Ask questions – be humble. “I’ve never been married, how does . . . work? Really? Interesting.” We can help our friends love and appreciate their spouse more. And we can point them to Jesus – “Where is Jesus in all of this?”
By the way, wives know which guys are on their side. You want to be on that list so that when your friend is struggling his wife says – “When are you hanging out with Justin, or let’s have Justin over.” Of course your name is probably not Justin but you get the idea.
You can obviously switch all of the above around if you are a woman. The point is the same.
Do you ever challenge your married friends statements about their spouse?