I’ve heard that women like to talk to relieve stress, and I believe it. It just makes us feel better to talk things over, and we often figure out what we think by talking. Men, on the other hand, usually know what they think before they start talking. So, we sometimes need a listening ear to figure out what it is we think and feel and know. Although there is nothing wrong with this when it is used wisely, it can be dangerous when we are not guarding our lips.
This is probably why women sometimes badmouth their husbands. They are working through a trouble, and in order to do so, they have to spill the beans on what the trouble is, and in this case, it is a husband. The problem is that spilling the beans to a girlfriend can actually be disloyalty to your husband. You may just be working things out, so you share lots of details about the argument you had and how insensitive and unkind he was, and then you feel better, go home and forgive him, and press on from there, never looking back. But the girlfriend remembers that stupid thing your husband did or said every time she sees him, and she thinks to herself, “There’s that jerk of a husband.” And after some time of speaking this way about a husband, the community may be filled with people who believe the man is a total jerk, and he has never had the opportunity to defend himself or give his side of the story. A wife may so successfully slander her own husband, that his business declines, and she wonders what has happened. She may then blame him for being a poor businessman, when the truth is that she has run him down so much in the community that no one wants to deal with him. Bad press travels fast, and when you can say you heard it straight from his wife, well, who will disbelieve it? You may think I am exaggerating, but it really can happen.
Somehow, women need to find a way to relieve their stress and figure out what they think without speaking in a disrespectful manner, without “saying things they ought not.” I remember many years ago, a woman was spilling to me and another lady about how her husband was being a jerk. I tried to intervene in order to stop her by giving her some advice about her situation. She interrupted me, put her hand out, and said something like, “Stop. I don’t want to hear it.” And so I told her I didn’t want to hear it either unless she was seeking help. Surely there is a way for women to feel better, work through their troubles, and get relief without over-sharing.
My suggestion is this. Do a little self-counseling. Lay out all your troubles, complaints, concerns, and confusions to the Lord in prayer. Ask Him to help you sort it all out. Pray for wisdom to know if you are in the grip of a sinful attitude. Deal with your stress by talking to God about it all. You may find that you are reluctant to share some details with God that you might have been too eager to share with your friends. Somehow it seems a little cheap to blame the other person when you are praying. After you have sorted things out this way, you can know if you need more help from a trusted counselor of the human sort. If so, then you can proceed with caution, asking God to guide your tongue to speak wisely. Abigail was wise, and yet she called her husband a fool. There are certainly times when a wife should get outside help. But most of the time when wives chat without discretion, it is not over an issue of such gravity that the church or the civil authorities need to be involved.
Finally, if we could learn to relieve stress by another means, I would say it is by cultivating the habit of being thankful. Gratitude is a great stress reliever! Begin to thank God for as many things as you can think of, and it will take quite a long time before you run out of things to say. And, you won’t have any regrets about an unruly tongue. Of course, unmarried women can fall into the same sorts of troubles. If we see what it is we are about, and we know that we are creatures who love to talk things out, we can direct our talking to a more fruitful end.