“Oversharing” has taken on a whole new meaning in a social media world. Think about it: How often are the subjects of your posts things that would have never been seen or discussed if not for a social media platform to tempt you to instantly share?
Before Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, how often did you snap and share pictures of what’s for dinner, show all of your friends the epic kid-produced mess you just mopped up, or pass along that hilarious photo that made you laugh out loud to your entire contact list? (By the way, I’m guilty of all of the above!)
That’s just the tip of the oversharing iceberg. Although much of the oversharing is innocent, it’s getting to a point where almost nothing is off limits to share with the hundreds of “friends” who get a constant, up-close and personal look into our daily lives.
The more we feel comfortable making the most mundane moments into a public spectacle, the more likely we are to impulsively share things that expose our most intimate relationships. This lack of restraint can be especially damaging to a marriage.
How can we resist the urge to overshare about our spouse? Even if you leave your oversharing off Facebook, are you still exposing too much about your marriage to outsiders in conversation? And when you’re genuinely seeking advice, how much is too much to share with others?
Two Become One Flesh
God’s Word makes it clear that one man and one woman become one flesh in a marriage. From the establishment of marriage in Genesis to the teachings of Jesus and discipling letters from the Apostle Paul, we are told that a married couple has left their individual status and birth family behind to become one new entity, one flesh (Gen. 2:24, Mark 10:8, Ephesians 5:31).
What does this have to do with oversharing about your spouse? Simply put, oversharing about your spouse (especially when it’s negative) to people outside your relationship is an act of separating yourself from him. You’re singling him out for shallow laughs, outside scrutiny, or even reproach. If you are one entity, then you’re really exposing both you and your husband — the entity of your one-flesh marriage — to any consequences from what you’re sharing. And when one of you is hurt, you both hurt.
As followers of Jesus, we are to be set apart in all that we do in our daily lives — and that includes our conversations (see James 1:19 and Ephesians 5:1-33). We are responsible for what comes out of our mouths, including what we type and send out into cyberspace, and how it affects who we’re talking about and those who hear what we say. Those words carry even more weight in our marriage relationship because they divide us.
If your marriage is truly suffering, oversharing about that struggle is even more detrimental. Talking about your spouse behind his back is also stabbing yourself in the back: You are still one flesh. When you’re oversharing your side of the story, you’re getting one-sided advice and leaving others stuck in the middle. What is needed for true healing to take place is a joint solution between you and your spouse before God and potentially a pastor or counselor.
Unfortunately I have witnessed several marriages damaged and even destroyed by what started out as oversharing, both on social media and in person. (See my previous post, “A Tale of Two Marriages Sabotaged by Social Media,” for social media do’s and don’ts for married couples.) Oversharing might seem innocent at first, but it can quickly spiral out of control when the marriage is already weak.
Accountability to God and Each Other
Early on in our marriage, my husband and I resolved that we would always come to each other first if we had an issue or concern. After more than 20 years, we still don’t discuss private details about our marriage with our parents or close friends, and we most definitely don’t share them on social media. It has nothing to do with keeping up appearances: I have no problem telling someone that married life has been challenging, and that I thank God every day for the miracles and growth that He’s carried us through over the years. However, being able to encourage someone with that testimony doesn’t require oversharing.
Because marriage is a relationship defined by God, He has a lot to say about how that relationship works in His Word. We each have a role and responsibility in the partnership that is unique to husband and wife, and there’s protection for us in that accountability structure. (For more on the freedom we can discover in God’s design for our marriage, see my previous post on this topic.)
With the Scriptures as our guide, my husband and I know that we are first accountable to God, and then to each other. If things can’t be resolved between the two of us, we can seek Godly counsel the way we’re instructed to in the Bible. As believers, who are we instructed to take up our offenses with? First, directly to the person who committed the offense, then to someone who can provide Godly counsel (Matthew 18:15-17).
In most cases, working through marriage challenges in this way will be enough — keeping the details of those challenges from becoming public chatter. However, there’s a difference between showing restraint and avoiding gossip about your marriage, and hiding or suppressing truly abusive behavior. There’s nothing wrong with seeking outside help from the proper sources when it’s clearly necessary for your safety and the safety of your children.
The Power of Testimony
It’s pretty obvious that we should resist oversharing about both petty and serious challenges in our marriage, but what about the good stuff? Is there such a thing as oversharing about the highs and the breakthroughs? What if our story can encourage other couples who are struggling?
I think the most important thing to remember is the fact that you are one flesh with your spouse, so the decision to share details of your marriage testimony should be made jointly. God’s Word tells us that there’s power in our testimony when our words give glory to Him and point others to Christ. Pray about it, and be in agreement about how God is leading you to share (and in what medium) when you do decide to give that testimony.
When in doubt, remember what God’s Word says about the power of our words and how we should use them: to uplift, encourage, show kindness, extend grace, express gratitude and love, and share truth (see Ephesians 4:29, Proverbs 16:24 and Colossians 4:6). Let those instructions be our guide as we learn to moderate ourselves and resist the impulse to overshare about our spouse, our marriage, and others in general.
Have you had a hard time resisting the urge to overshare about your spouse? Have you ever been caught in the middle when an oversharing friend loops you in to her marriage squabbles? How do you protect intimacy and mutual respect in your marriage in this oversharing social media environment?
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Renée Gotcher is a wife, writer/editor & home-educating mother of three daughters ages 14, 12 and 7. She has been married for 20 years to her best friend Kenny, whom she met while attending Oral Roberts University in the early 90s. A former technology journalist, Renée is currently editor of NextGen Homeschool and blogs on personal topics at A New Chapter. Her family lives in Castle Rock, Colorado.