When does it go from a healthy conversation about their spouse, where the Stander is seeking healing and pouring their heart out, to a place where it becomes what has been labeled spouse exposing?

It’s not a time situation, but a heart condition. The heart’s motive determines if a person is sharing to work through pain or bring shame to the spouse.

We all process and work through pain at different levels depending on many factors. It doesn’t even have to do with the specific act that caused the pain, but something else could be the final straw that broke the camel’s back.

Pouring out raw emotions and feelings as you process through them is a healthy, normal part of healing. Many can’t express themselves until they are given the opportunity to talk it out or work it through verbally. 

It becomes spouse exposing when a person has come to a place where they have worked through the pain but have chosen to withhold forgiveness because they are not yet able to extend forgiveness. They are no longer sharing about the spouse to try and bring healing to themselves: they are sharing as a way of shaming the spouse to make themselves feel better. This is a result of unforgiveness which turns to bitterness. This is the kind of spouse exposing that brings no good. It offers no healing, bears no fruit, and is harmful to the one sharing and to those who hear it. Shaming is intended to bring embarrassment to the person being talked about. This is why Noah cursed one of his sons for exposing his nakedness. It was done with harmful intent.

Instead, we are to deal with each other in love.

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. (NIV, 1 Peter 4:8) 

Motives are formed out of judgments. And the Word is clear. The measure you dish out, is the measure you will receive back. (Matthew 7:2) This is why we caution and warn with gentle admonishments the harm in exposing one’s spouse. But it has gone to a point where some label all types of sharing as spouse exposing, which is not true at all. 

It takes patience and discernment to distinguish between a heart motivated by pain or by bitterness.

1 You shall not judge, lest you be judged. 2 For with the judgment that you judge, you will be judged, and with the measure that you measure, it will be measured to you.

Standing with you,
Sheila Hollinger