Secrets of a Newlywed: Who Are You Complaining To?

This is the next post in Secrets of a Newlywed, a series where I open up and share some of the lessons, insights and understandings—the little secrets—that have made my marriage the wedded bliss that it is. Like anything else, they are easier said than done. But I know from personal experience that when I do manage to live them out, I've seen what beautiful fruit they bear in my relationship with my husband. 

So, today, I share another with you: Who Are You Complaining To?

I hope that you will never hear me complain about my husband. I hope that you will never hear a negative comment about him slip through my lips.

It’s not because he’s perfect, because he certainly makes mistakes—just as I do.

But it’s because I value our marriage and don’t want to give, as Song of Songs calls them, the “little foxes” room to roam free and wreak havoc in our relationship.

You see, I believe in the power of words. As James says, the tongue can be “a whole world of evil among the parts of our bodies” and “it starts a fire that influences all of life.” (James 3:6) Even when we’re simply joking about how he leaves dirty clothes on the ground or the toilet seat up, I think those conversations can plant seeds of discontent in our hearts that, over time, can grow into jungles of festering resentment. All because we opened our mouths and breathed life to negativity.

That’s why I greatly desire to keep any venting out of conversations with man. Instead, they only have room in my conversations with God. And I can tell you that it’s these conversations that I’ve come to see bear much fruit. I don’t know that any one can say the same of the other kinds of conversations. Simply because the Lord is the only one who can actually do something about these issues!

There have been times when I’ve found myself frustrated with situations in my marriage, but taken them to the Lord earnestly in prayer. And I’ve seen the Holy Spirit work in our relationship, softening both my own heart and that of my husband.

Because hardly ever is conflict a one-way street. Yes, it may be the actions of one. But it doesn’t often stop there. We carry logs in our own eyes, whether it’s the ways we overreact in perceiving things or in expecting perfection from another human being. The Lord steps in with sanctification even in these moments, when we think we’re blameless!

The beautiful thing about that is that my husband hardly ever knows about these things, which keeps our relationship intact and healthy. And at the same time, it grows my dependency on and faith in the Lord, to know that with him, all things are possible and that he is the rock upon which we built our relationship. I let go, and let him work.

But the tongue can also be used for good and bring life. “Careless words stab like a sword, but wise words bring healing.” (Proverbs 12:18) And so it is true in our marriages, as well.

Instead of airing complaints, we ought to sing our husband’s praises. We put words to the things we appreciate about him. We tell others of the things he has accomplished. We only let words of encouragement flow from our lips.

And it bolsters our hearts, reminding us how much we do have to be thankful for in our marriage. Because if we look hard enough, there’s always something to be thankful for. Even when there’s dirty laundry on the floor and he left the toilet seat up, again.

(To read through all the posts in this series, click here.)  

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  1. Yes! This is my HUGE vice! THANK YOU, Carmen for posting.

    I feel like I use to use my tongue for evil a lot at the start of my marriage and in my relationships with others.

    A few years ago I was pretty bad with that and didn't realize it! Then recently my sin came full circle and I realized all the relationships I had let my tongue destroy: family, church, marriage, friends.

    But praise God for giving me a kind, patient, sweet husband who helped me get better and loved me when I was not very loveable.

    If I MUST rant I rant to God ONLY from now on, instead of unloading my fears and dis contentment on others.

  2. Great great advice. I don't know that it's something I would have thought of right away on my own. It seems so "normal" in today's world to "air our grievances" if you will with friends or family or the random listening ear. It's so easy for words to hurt, to destroy... and gossip tendencies are hard to break. This is something I'd like to work on for myself NOW so that when the time comes, my words are only encouraging. Great post, Carmen. Thank you for sharing this!

  3. Thank you for sharing this! Just recently I felt the need to vent and rant to friends but I'm glad I read your post before I even did. It's like God was talking to me through your post and I am so thankful.
    Thank you again for sharing this. :)

  4. I really loved what you had to say. And it completely encouraged me to speak kindly and graciously to (and about) my husband. We've only been married for five weeks so we are definitely still adjusting to this. :) I love the NKJV translation of Proverbs 31 that says, "She opens her mouth with wisdom, and on her tongue is the *law of kindness*" (emphasis mine).

    I will add though that I appreciate most when married women can speak kindly about their husbands, yet still be honest about struggles. Sometimes when people "sugarcoat" their relationship it comes across as fake and unrealistic. So I've been striving to speak respectfully of Caleb even while we are honest about our failures and honest about when we need help from others. :)

    Callie @ A Chance To Die

  5. Oh, thank you so much, ladies! I'm so glad that this post was useful and encouraging to you.

    I think, like Kristin said, it is so normal in our world today to focus on the bad, even to the point of trying to 'one up' one another on the negative things about our men! Oh boy. No wonder this is such a tough lesson. We've got so much going against us!

  6. Thank you so much for this post. This whole series is a blessing but this is a particularly relevant subject. I try very hard to not complain, but often it just starts and it's a slippery slope. As Kristin said, the world tries to convince us that we should complain about our husbands and that they should do the same about us. How awful it is when you really think about how husbands and wives have the power to tear each other apart, and often do! I'd hate to be that kind of wife and am sad that sometimes I am.

    But, I don't want to end on such a downer note. You're so right to say that God can speak peace into our hearts and also speak conviction into our husbands'. He is the only one who can help us realize when we're being petty and teach our husbands gently when they need correction. And teach us gently when we need it too! :)

  7. I really needed this today... thank you.

  8. Great post, and great verses! I've made a similar resolution in my marriage (going on 6 1/2 years =), and try never to vent or complain or say anything negative about my husband. I'll share my struggles with my sisters and close friends, but they're MY struggles--not my husband's shortcomings.
    Thanks for the encouragement!

  9. What a good distinction, Jenna! I love that. If we want to complain. complain about our OWN shortcomings and failings, rather than those of our husbands (or other people in general). If that does humble our tongues, I don't know what will!

  10. Hey Carmen! Just wanted to let you know this post inspired me. I'm not married (still in college) but your point about "keeping venting out of any conversations with man" is so important. I am not a huge venter, because I don't like to burden people. However, I will keep it to myself. This makes me upset, angry, and bitter.

    However, this weekend I was at a bible study retreat and I read a passage that made me realize that it would be so much simpler just to take my problems to God instead of repressing them. Though I do pray, I often times repress the full force of my emotions, only sharing the surface level basics of the issue with God. I don't tell him how I feel. Do you ever find yourself doing this? But now I think venting to God is really important--if you don't truly ask God for help, he can't help you.

    Anyway, you inspired a post on suffering at my blog ( Thanks so much for your words of wisdom!

  11. What a good point, Alexis. I do think sometimes we forget that we can--and should--express our deepest emotions and feelings to God.

    I struggle with trying to repress my emotions, at times, too, so I know how you feel! We need healthy outlets for our feelings, and God is the first place we should take them!

    Glad this post was an encouragement!

  12. Finally getting a chance to comment on the post... and I think this concept is GOLD. Who are you complaining to? After reading this post when Carmen originally posted I kept asking myself this... and I pinpointed a lot of complaining. Not saying they were about my husband but just about complaining in general. Great post, thanks Carmen... still really enjoying the series.

  13. Thanks, Tamara! I have had to really check myself on my complaining / negative talk over the past couple of years. Two years ago, that was what I "gave up" for Lent. It was REALLY hard! (Way harder than giving up sweets!) But such an eye-opening reminder to watch my tongue--in all circumstances.

  14. So after celebrating my 30th wedding anniversary yesterday, I read your post and it brought tears to my eyes because it reminds me that the reason we celebrated 30 years is expressly because of the idea behind this post. When one or the other of that marriage partnership starts to verbally plant and water those seeds of discontent and spread around the negativity (manure!), it gives rise to that "jungle of discontent". Good luck finding your way out of that dark place. It can only be done with our Guide, turn it over to God. He cares about everything, even the litle things and much larger things. I love my husband and he's the gift God gave me~so I try and treat him as that, a gift from my heavenly Father! May God be our Guide through what will be one of the most difficult and rewarding covenants we ever enter into! Here's to many more anniversaries celebrated.

  15. I respect that this is working for you.
    I couldn't help but feel it is a little extreme to only save such conversations for prayer.
    "my husband hardly ever knows about these things, which keeps our relationship intact and healthy"
    It seems odd that when you feel irritated by something you never choose to talk things through with your husband - I don't mean argue about it, or nitpick and be nasty. I mean really talk it through, explain how it made you feel so the person who loves you can treat you the way you deserve to be treated.
    In my eyes honesty and openness keep a relationship healthy.

    I do, however completely agree with you when you talk about planting seeds of discontent - mouthing off about silly little things to friends is a detrimental thing to your mind and heart and relationship. Positivity is definitely the way forward.

  16. Anonymous, you bring up a good distinction, which is to say that this post does not mean that I don't talk to my husband about important issues that might crop up in our relationship. Those are constructive and vital to any relationship, assuming we're not being nitpicky with our spouse about every little issue. We have to remember to first remove the plank from our own eye! But the issues I'm talking about here are when we have the urge to vent or complain. In those times, the only person I want to do air those grievances to is the Lord.

  17. Wow, never even thought of venting to God. YOur so right that hes the only one that can change things anyway. Really what is anyone else really gonna do anyways?? I think I am gonna love this blog only read two so far and I have learned sooo much!


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