My wife discusses our private matters with her family

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We both work and are doing our best to develop ourselves by establishing a business and building a home. However, whenever we talk about anything we plan to do or have a disagreement, my wife runs and tells her family everything

My wife and I have been together for a while and we have one child. We both work and are doing our best to develop ourselves by establishing a business and building a home. However, whenever we talk about anything we plan to do or have a disagreement, my wife runs and tells her family everything. All of a sudden, I start getting phone calls and messages from her family, advising us on what we should do instead. I have told her severally to keep certain conversations private but she does not listen. Should I stop talking to her and do everything by myself?


Dear Anonymous,

This sounds stressful since no one wants to feel betrayed by the people they expect to protect them. Marriage is special and it comes with all the good things that are embedded in a union of two consenting adults. However, this relationships is also bound to face difficulties along the way.

 One of the things that make a marriage special is a couple being vulnerable with each other. This is one of the best ways of developing a close and fulfilling relationship. It entails being more open with your partner and allowing yourself to be who you truly are. It can involve discussing feelings at a deeper level and being open with each other without the fear of being judged.

 It is often a big temptation for people to want to share everything about their relationship with their parents and friends. This usually happens when the relationship is facing some challenges although even out of excitement, a partner might be tempted to share more than they should with other people. Parents lend a sympathetic ear and one goes away feeling much better.

The problem here is that naturally, parents love and side with their children and no parent wants to see their children hurting. This can jeopardise a relationship since relatives usually take sides and will not offer a neutral environment. Sometimes, the couple might have worked on their issues but since relatives are not the ones in the relationship, they will judge basing on old information and continue to disrespect your spouse.

 It is possible that your spouse has not yet come to the level of cutting cords with her parents and still feels secure when she discusses with them what you are doing as a family. This also has a lot to do with parenting styles in a family. It is usually the adults who help young people become independent and relate appropriately and be loyal to their own intimate relationships too.

If this is not well handled early in life, then such adult children might have issues in their marriage relationships.

 People are able to learn new things even in adulthood if they are willing. In this case, attending a marriage therapy session together as a couple will help address these intricate issues and give an avenue for both of you to express yourselves without being judged.

 Although you have talked to her about this before, you could try bringing it up again when you are both relaxed and happy. Let your wife know how this makes you feel as a husband and as a son-in-law. Usually, a heated debate only aggravates issues but when you communicate calmly people tend to listen and even take a keen interest in what you are saying.

Reader advice

Set boundaries

Joanita woods. This is a common problem. While it is true that when we marry our spouse, we also marry the family, we must also maintain appropriate boundaries. It is a wonderful quality that she loves her family and wants to tell them everything but there needs to be a limit and she needs to put your needs and the needs of the marriage first.

Seek counselling

Victoria Allen. Feelings are not wrong and she cannot argue with how you feel. If you believe that your wife is not setting appropriate boundaries, perhaps she does not know how to do that. If you are willing, perhaps you two should seek marriage counselling to learn to communicate and set healthy boundaries with her family. This problem can be resolved. Just be patient and communicate without attacking each other.

Talk to your wife

David Mukisa. If she runs and complains about you or tells them things that should be private, they are stuck with it. If she is mad at you, they may be too when they hear her venting about it. But then she will get over it and they will not, because they are not married to you. This would be a good thing to talk to her about, and let her know that what she is doing is hurting your marriage and you want it to stop.

Encourage therapy

Alexandra Pell. The first thing (being a talker) is probably just part of who she is. Maybe going to individual therapy would allow her to be her natural chatterbox self without violating your marital privacy. Therapists are legally obligated not to repeat what they are told by their clients. Therapy might also help her to strengthen her understanding of boundaries, both by helping her learn to respect yours and by learning how to enforce them with her family. And couples therapy might be helpful if you find it challenging to get her to understand why you want her to stop spilling every marital detail to her family in the first place.

Have you talked to her?

Jules Jones. Have you told her that you are uncomfortable with this? That you do not feel like she has respected your wishes? Why does she feel the need to share so much? Have a serious chat about boundaries and how you are feeling about it. Let her know that certain things are “sacred” and that might help. Your marriage is between you and her and let her know how much you value that.

Do your things privately

Paul Kalinimi. Being a man is a full time job, so do your things privately and do not tell her. This is the only way you will achieve what you want to achieve without discouragement from her family.

Have a talk about roles

Jacob Kwesiga Gatasha. I believe the first person she should confide in is you. The rest are just external stakeholders whose role is to chip in when you have failed to come to an agreement. Their role is to offer guidance after you two have agreed to involve them in your internal matters.

 Evelyn Kharono Lufafa is a counselling psychologist with Sermotherapy Counselling Foundation