Is there some polite way to ask married people to stop complaining about their spouses? Recently there’s been some coolness with my friend in the couple because I declined an invitation to socialize with them as a couple. Why would I want to socialize with the spouse I’ve only heard terrible things about? I don’t think this friendship can be mended, but I’d like some advice on how to avoid these problems in future. I don’t enjoy losing friends, married or not, if it can be avoided. 0726-11
I wouldn’t write off the slandered spouse until you met him or her and used your own perceptions and observations to determine whether you are interested in socializing further with the person. We should never take great stock in bad reports about others based solely on a word-of-mouth report. You have no idea what the relationship baggage is, who is really the aggrieved party or who is “poisoning the well” of potential friendships their spouse could have.
You can bean dip by redirecting the topic of discussion to more pleasant topics but that won’t work always. Refusing to listen to gossip and slander means sometimes being direct by saying, “I really don’t think I should be privy to this kind of information. Maybe a marriage counselor would be more helpful than I.”