burger_eater said: As for talking about relationship problems, I know friends who have done it, but it has to be *very* serious to go there. We talk about problems, but if it's a problem with our spouse, it'd be a betrayal of our relationship.
The interesting thing about this, and the reason I'm mulling over it? It's true. I have my own gender biases, obviously, and I'm not aware of all of them -- but if a female friend complains to me about her spouse (any gender spouse), I will commiserate, or often come up with a similar tale of woe (dishes. leaving the gas barbecue turned on for 7 hours. not shopping with a list and, well.) If it's a more serious problem, I will listen, and I will give any advice they seek, if they seek it. I do not, however, in any of this, consider the discussion about the spouse to be a betrayal of their relationship.
However... (you knew there was a catch)...
If a male acquaintance is actively complaining about his wife in the same way, my reaction is different. I do not come up with similar complaints or incidents if the complaint is minor. And unless I know the complainee pretty darned well? I have difficulty listening to much of it. If I do know them well, they fall under the rubric (for me) of little brother, in which case, it's fine. Which implies that in some way, I do consider the male version of this to be said betrayal.
Which I realize is wrong. If the discussion is serious, it doesn't bother me as much, for some reason. And no, I'm not sure why I have this reaction, but I think in part its because I've observed what burger_eater has mentioned in action, and I've internalized it. Or possibly I'm not as comfortable with the discussion crossing the gender divide. I have to think about this a bit more. (I'm still thinking about it now).
But I have issues with a certain type of condescending humour in a relationship anyway. There's the usual teasing (which I undergo all the time because I may have slight difficulties reading things like maps or noticing minor details like one-way streets), and there's always some affection in that, and that's all good. There is the usual frustration, and the complaints that come from that. But the type of 'humour' to which 'you can't take a joke' is the only response when any attempt at discussion is offered? I hate that. Loathe it. I think it is, if not curbed, relationship doom in the making.
Umm, yes, that was a digression. Sorry.
That's what annoyed me about Gottlieb, honestly. She treated her friends, who just needed to vent about the usual everyday annoyances that come from living with someone for years, as if they'd "settled." Has she never had a relationship? Even the best of them, between Mr. and Ms. Right For Each Other, have stresses and points of conflict. Sometimes people need to vent safely to their friends.
I think the venting is important in context. I think she's bitter about any complaint at the moment because she is without a spousal support system (at her own choice), and in her defense -- not that she needs it -- it's a bit like complaining about your toddler to people who have been trying for seven years to conceive, and have gone through every invasive procedure and every hormonal treatment they legally can, without any luck. Yes, they're your friends. Yes, they should be there while you let off needed steam. But... as their friend, there are things that you shouldn't ask of them.
I admit that I don't vent about my husband to my friends that my husband hasn't heard first, but that's me (and there's every chance that he might prefer the venting to friends, sans the small blasts at which he is ground zero).
ETA: Writing post soonish, sorry for wibbling...