If your marriage has recently broken down, your first instinct may be to pour out your feelings to close friends and family, and it can be extremely helpful and comforting to do so.
In the early days, relatives, mates and even colleagues will be only too happy to provide a sympathetic shoulder to cry on. While it is healthy to offload your emotions, rather than bottle them up, it may be tempting to reveal a little too much detail and muck-rake through every aspect of the relationship. Unleashing your anger and bitterness by denigrating your spouse and picking over their faults with a tooth comb can be cathartic.
However, it is important to understand there is a fine balance between unburdening your feelings and ripping your ex-partner’s reputation to shreds and, for several reasons, it is wise to resist going overboard.
Painting your spouse in the worst possible light may bring you some emotional relief in the short-term, but it can also cause you to become more bitter and unhappy in the long-term. It might be a useful exercise to realise you haven’t lost as much as you perhaps thought you had, but if you forget the good points of the person you loved enough to marry, this can serve to lower your self-esteem.
One way to erode self-esteem is through a loss of dignity. Blurting out every last intimate detail or petty argument to a friend or relative can make you both look and feel unseemly.
It can also make you really boring. The sympathy of even the most loyal of confidants may start to wane if you bad-mouth your spouse too much, too often and in too much gory detail. Also, if the people you talk are friendly with your ex, it may sour their relationship.
Furthermore, if you have children, it is important – no matter what your feelings towards your former partner – that you retain at least a semblance of civility towards them and a regard for their role as a parent. Otherwise, however unintentionally, you risk poisoning your children’s minds against them. And that isn’t fair on the kids or the ex.
While it’s crucial for people not to heap blame on themselves for the breakdown of their marriage (that’s no good for self-esteem either), it’s also worth remembering that – in most cases – it takes two to dismantle a relationship.