Topic: Involving family in marital problems and it backfired
Q: I made the mistake of speaking about my husband and some of our problems to my siblings for the first time ever since we’ve been married, and they in turn spoke to my parents. My family is now upset at what they have learned and are angry with my husband and aren’t welcoming him in their home right now. Truthfully, I was hurt by my husband, and felt he wasn’t meeting my emotional needs, but the issues aren’t as big a deal as my family is turning them into. In a moment of weakness, I opened up, and now regret doing this. My husband is upset with me for doing this, and also upset at my family. He still loves me and is trying to be sweet, but I know he is upset. What do I do to fix this?
(Note: Megan has already confirmed with the questioner that her marriage is safe and that no abuse of any kind is taking place. In this wife’s situation, the issues were important to her, but nothing out of the norm that a couple can’t work on together.)
First things first, it sounds like an apology is in order to your husband.
You’re human, and you turned to your siblings during a time when you were emotionally in need, which is understandable from an emotional perspective.
However, the decision has not brought about positive results for yourself, marriage, or family, and taking responsibility for that, beginning with your husband, will help restore his trust for you, and begin the process of healing for both of you in this situation.
His shock of finding out that your entire family is upset at him, speaking badly about him, and now, not wanting to see him must be really hard for him. Acknowledging that would also be a step in the direction of honoring his feelings in this situation.
At some point, we do need to also honor what led you to the breaking point of speaking to your family, when normally you don’t, rather than your husband.
You have mentioned your own emotional needs were not being met, so I hope that this situation will be the beginning of a new dialogue for both of you.
It is very common for both wives and husbands to not be truly aware of the emotional needs of their spouse, and one unfortunate side effect of this is finding out one spouse has sought those needs outside of the marriage.
Alhamdulillah, it was your family, and not a non-Mahram male, or just a friend who may not be trustworthy with what you are sharing. But no matter the person, this is a warning sign for both of you.
Something has to change.
Whenever a spouse hurts the other because of their loneliness in the marriage, it’s easy to blame the person “at fault,” however, relationships are usually a bit more complicated than that. Both people may have played a role, even if unintentionally, in creating the current atmosphere that is now hurting them.
In your case, your needs weren’t met, he didn’t know how to meet them, and you caved in and complained to your family, who in turn, thought to take matters into their own hands. By showing and expressing their anger at your hurt, assuming they have good intentions, is to make sure your needs are met.
Unfortunately, that could cause even greater harm for both of you because the hurt is now magnified and a new set of problems are there, along with the old ones.
So here is how you can move forward:
Apologize to your husband for your faults and give him space to express his hurt and disappointment again if he needs to. Give him some time to process your apology, and let him know you can both talk about what led to this later.
2) Express your emotional needs
Express your emotional needs and provide specific and tangible ways he could meet those needs. It’s likely he didn’t know your needs were going unmet, and may have no clue what you need more of.
Give him specific examples like “I want to feel supported regarding the kids, and I feel supported when you ask me how my day was and listen” or “I want to feel emotionally connected, and I feel that way when you go to bed at the same time as me and we cuddle in bed before sleeping.” Give him somewhere and something to start with!
3) Address your family.
Let them know that while you were upset with your husband, the truth is, things could have improved had you known how to better express yourself with him, and there was and is no need for them to get involved. Thank them for their love and concern, and then compliment and express the whole truth about him, such as the kind and loving things he does for you every day. Focus on praising him in the future in front of them and assuring them you are both working things out. The goal isn't to put on a show but to show the whole picture which reflects you both have some learning to do.
4) Find a neutral support person.
If things don't improve consider working with someone who is neutral to help you improve how you communicate and work through your relationship challenges. While some family members can be helpful when a couple is struggling your family has shown that they aren't able to handle the situation with balance, support, and wisdom. I also offer relationship coaching which you can learn more about here.
Insha Allah this is a place to start to repair your relationship, and the beginning of a new way of communicating with your husband. Insha Allah in no time you will both be able to move past this, and will be a moment of growth you will be grateful for down the road.