Chatting with my brother Keaton (Twitter @doulos_kb) gave me a flash of inspiration. He had a question for our married friends.
Is it possible to gossip to your spouse if you don’t have the person’s business you’re telling permission? Marital intimacy can’t violate Biblical principles.
Keaton Brown (Tampa, FL)
I responded with a resounding “YES!” but I would like to explore the topic further with my readers. There have been times in my marriage when a sister has confided in me about her personal struggles or asked for prayer concerning a sensitive issue. More often than not, the issue at hand is one that only women endure and the answer does not need a man’s perspective. Later on, if my husband and I are driving in silence, my mind may wander to something we could discuss and the first thing that will likely come to mind is the last thing I was just told. Before I blurt out “hey babe, Pollyanna (lol, you like that fictitious name I picked) is having struggles with sexual thoughts,” I pause.
Is this information any of his business?
Would sharing this with my husband who I know will keep it in strict confidence still pose an embarrassment to the sister who confided in me?
Why do I feel the need to share this information in the first place?
If there is nothing to gain from sharing this information with my husband and I am doing it simply for the sake of making conversation, I need to hush. Even though I know my husband well enough and I am fully confident that he would never betray my confidence or that of this sister by blabbing about the topic to others, I am fairly certain that Pollyanna would be extremely uncomfortable with the idea of my husband (in whom she did not confide for good reason) being privileged to this sensitive information about her. I am not sharing this information because I want my husband to pray for her. Even if I know that he would do just that, there is nothing to be gained by violating another woman’s trust in this regard. I can join her in prayer without involving my husband; this protects her privacy while offering her community through her sister in Christ (me).
Continuing with this hypothetical, let’s say I have had issues with gossiping in the past, even as a single woman. Maybe prior to coming to Christ, I would sit on the phone for hours discussing the happenings of other peoples lives. The ideal would be that once I came to Christ, I repented of such sinful habits. But if after marriage, I am no longer gossiping with friends and start “sharing information” with my husband that has no bearing on our marriage or his responsibilities, then I need to re-examine my heart. The propensity for gossip is still there; the only thing that has changed is my audience. Sharing information that violates the confidences of others and is none of my husband’s business is gossip!
There may be other information that almost fits this category but it is not necessarily gossip. For example, if someone confides in me about their financial struggles and I feel led to help, the first person I talk to is my husband. If he’s on-board, then we give a joint gift. The person may not have confided in my husband but when it comes to our money, that is very much my husband’s business. I can give the gift with my husband’s blessing without divulging all of the sensitive or potentially embarrassing details the other person relayed to me.
I like this discussion because it exposes some of the ways we try to sanitize our sinful proclivities by gathering them under the “I’m married so it’s okay” umbrella.
I know of friends who have confided in one person only to have them share the information with their spouse and it ends up becoming public knowledge. That is a gross violation of the Bible’s command to bear one another’s burden. This person is fulfilling the biblical command to “confess your sins one to another” and we dare not make that task more difficult for them by betraying their trust.
This post was intended as a short one so I will end my musings here but I want to hear from you, reader. Do you think it is always necessary to share what someone else has told you in confidence with your spouse? How do you preserve the principle of being one flesh while still maintaining the confidences of those who share their sensitive information with you, but not with your spouse?