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How would you feel if your husband said this about you?
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Imagine sitting with your friends, joking about your husband's latest mistake. What does hubby say about you when you're not around? - photo by Heather Hale
I was with a group of friends the other day when the discussion turned to our husbands. I held my breath and waited for someone to say my least favorite saying in the entire world.

Yep, someone said, "Oh, I have four kids my three girls and my husband." Ugh. It supposed to sound cute, but it doesn't. It sounds condescending.

Women need their friends in a very real but very different way than men need their friends. We use girl time to talk through our problems and make sense of what's going on in our lives, but too often conversations dissolve into "man bashing." We see it as harmless joking at our husbands' expense. No big deal, right?

Let's turn the tables for a second and imagine this scenario. Picture your husband sitting around talking with his friends. This is what they say.

Friend: "So, what did you do this week?"

Husband: "We went on a picnic as a family. It was crazy, though. I had to get everyone ready because my wife was primping in the bathroom forever. She's so scattered sometimes. I wish she'd help out more. I feel like everything is my responsibility the second I get home from work. I mean, come on, the house is a wreck, and... "

I could go on, but I think you can fill in the blanks. Now, imagine you knew your husband said this about you. You'd probably kill him. I mean, how dare he talk about you like that to someone else? That's completely unacceptable.

Except, ladies, we do this all the time. I think we let ourselves off the hook because we're more social. We like to talk, and we can look cute and jokey without coming off like jerks. That doesn't make it OK, however.

Marriage is a unique arrangement. Within a healthy marriage, you make another person privy to all your fears, insecurities and shortcomings, and then you have to trust that your partner won't divulge those things to the entire world. If we hope to retain intimacy in our marriages, we have to support that trust. Your spouse cannot trust you if he thinks you're bad-mouthing him behind his back.

Sometimes we joke about the "fragile" male ego, but it really isn't a laughing matter. If your husband is like most men, he takes his pride very seriously. Most men are hard-wired to keep up their public images, even among their wives' friends. It's a serious breach of trust when you make fun of your husband in front of anyone. I promise you that he doesn't find it cute when you lump him in with the kids or joke about his abilities as a father, husband or provider.

Instead of tearing down our husbands, let's work to build them up. If making fun of your husband hurts him deeply, imagine how great he feels when you brag about him to the world. Yes, your friends may scoff at you suddenly becoming a gushy, in-love wife, but who is it more important to impress? Friends come and go, but the relationship you create with your husband lasts forever whether bad or good.

I love my husband so much! He's an amazing father, and I appreciate the effort he puts into providing for our family. I'm not afraid of sending that message out into the world. After all, I chose him. His good nature reflects my good taste. Think about that the next time you're chatting with your girlfriends.