Complaints have 2 elements – the feelings and the task.
When we complain, there are the feelings (upset, lonely, invisible, disrespected, underappreciated) and the desire for something to be different (share responsibilities, more time together).
Often, we can respectfully share both with our spouse in one conversation. But sometimes, after thinking about it, we recognize that our spouse won’t respond well to the feelings part of the conversation. They may take it too personally – for whatever reason – and it may derail the whole conversation.
These two parts of a complaint can really be separated. We can complain/ vent to friends and get the sympathy, empathy and validation there. And bring only the task or change request conversation to our spouse.
Instead of “I am feeling lonely in this marriage. I want to spend more time…”, you might say something like 💬“I miss our laughing together. I would really love to spend more time together. How can we make that happen?” or 💬“We both have busy lives. Can we sit down with our list of to-dos and figure out how we can get everything done?”