Based on that verse, we began discussing the differences between venting to our spouses (or anyone else for that matter) and complaining. We identified some core differences that I thought you may appreciate as well.
We view venting as a positive thing where you are looking to release pent-up frustration and reach a place of resolution, whereas we see complaining as an end to itself where there is no resolution truly being sought. Here are the core differences that we identified, though there are certainly more that one could add to the list.
Core Differences Between Venting and Complaining -
- Venting is like an emotional bloodletting, releasing pressure without a sense of entitlement. Complaining has its roots in pride and a sense of entitlement ("I don't deserve this", "How could they do that to me?", etc.).
- Venting ends in sharing your heart in genuineness, but complaining seeks to "get" something or make someone else "fix" something.
- Venting is intentional and with emotional maturity. Complaining is somewhat unrestricted/unbridled with less emotional maturity.
We also identified some core things to remember when you are venting to someone else. Even if you're right in how you vent, sometimes the situation or the person to whom you vent isn't right.
Core Things to Remember -
- God is big enough to handle all our burdens. Our spouses (and others, too) are not necessarily big enough. Remember to first and foremost cast your burdens on the shoulders of Christ. Matt. 11:28-30 says, "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
- When venting, be sure to consider whether you are looking for someone to inappropriately fill a need or void that they should not be expected to fill.
- Are you viewing others as God in your life, or are you seeking to be intimate with him first and others second?
- Is this an appropriate time for you to share those frustrations? Is it the right person?
Last thoughts: In our culture we have been bombarded with the idea that unless you share what's on your mind how, when, where, and to whom you wish that you aren't being "authentic." As Christians, we must be sure to remember that authenticity comes from being like Christ, which includes acting as Christ would act. So when venting, be sure to "be yourself" and share how you feel in such a way that Christ is honored and personal growth is accomplished.
Would you add anything to those lists? Please comment and share your thoughts.