Spousal Gossip – Yea or Nay?

Posted by: Shel 15 Comments
Spousal Gossip


Most of us would not want to be referred to as “A Gossip” – or get caught gossiping. So is gossip always a bad thing? I decided to check out a dictionary to see if there is any positive definition for ‘gossip.’ As it turns out, after checking several sources, I was indeed able to find a more benign definition of “gossip” than the rumor-riddled association it usually has. Vocabulary.com offers this definition: Gossip is conversation that’s light, informal, and usually about other people’s business.

So, for our purposes, we’re not talking mean-girl stuff here. More like, chitchat, tittle-tattle, scuttlebutt stuff.

My husband and I begin most weekdays by watching the early news. I have to admit, we sometimes watch with a critical eye. In between news stories we do a bit of the scuttlebutt kind of gossiping with regard to newscasters and the actors (I’m using the term loosely) on those early morning screaming car commercials. For instance, noticing a bad hair day, wondering (out loud) when earrings the size of Montana became professional wear, and questioning this ongoing trend of wearing sleeveless dresses no matter how much snow is on the ground. The chatter often ends with one or both of us shaking our head and saying: “They should have asked us!” We actually learn bits about the other and their preferences in these little exchanges, as well as make each other laugh. A bonding moment. Throw in a cup of coffee, and it’s a pretty nice start to the day!

Have you got your own spousal gossip going on? Do you ever find yourselves talking about the relationships of friends? In a recent Redbook article, Robb Willer, Ph.D, an associate professor of sociology at Stanford University, says such chat could be helpful to your own marriage. Analyzing behaviors is not the same as passing judgment. Discussing negative behaviors observed – spouses treated disrespectfully or inappropriate public displays – presents opportunities for spouses to discuss what each thinks is right or wrong, how they might have handled the situation, as well as to hash out their different points of view. Willer states that people who share the same values have stronger relationships.

As long as you’re not turning such discussions into comparisons to minimize your own marital issues or comparing your own relationship negatively to the point of creating unhealthy envy, such conversations can be quite productive. This kind of chitchat isn’t gossip – it’s couple’s therapy!


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  • Sheila Qualls

    I agree, Shel. If done in the right way, it’s not gossip. Talking to my husband helps me process things, especially hard ones.

    • Shel Harrington

      Understandable! Steve has such a different point of reference than I do that I get the benefit of a totally different perspective – which often helps me PUT troubling issues in perspective.

  • Interesting perspective on both the word “gossip”, it’s value in relationships. Oh, and I could just hear you both in the morning. 😉

    • Shel Harrington

      You probably HAVE heard us – we’re flexible about what time we watch news on the weekend! Wish I could be with you for Easter dinner with your special guests!

  • whew I thought you were going to talk about gossiping with your best friend about your spouse!

    • Shel Harrington

      That’s its own post, Lin! There are occasions when that kind of support is necessary, but generally speaking, it’s not a marriage booster! Hope you have a wonderful Easter!

  • I agree with Carrie, Shel.
    Usually, though, Jim and I find we do our most people watching/talking on Date Days. We have an uncanny talent for having breakfast at the next table to some arguing or gossiping couple who remind us both of other friends or family.

    • Shel Harrington

      Such conversations have a way of helping us appreciate the drama free aspects of our own unions! Love how faithful you both are to your date nights, Marylin – hope those that encounter you are motivated to incorporate the tradition in their own marriages. Happy Easter!

  • Why yes we do hahaha. And I am glad nobody is listening. We gossip about people on TV. Hubby usually says something outrageous, and then I spread a completely unfounded rumor about someone else. Between us we have it covered.

    • Shel Harrington

      The longevity of your union proves the gossip couples therapy theory! Hope you have a wonderful Easter, Luanne!

  • Periodically, we’ll analyze behaviors or couples we know…usually during commercials, while watching Jeopardy. Neither one of us are big on gossiping…we leave that to our next door neighbor…aye!

    • Shel Harrington

      No wonder you have to stick to commercial breaks – Jeopardy questions are their own conversation starters! Happy Easter, Jill!

  • “Analyzing behaviors is not the same as passing judgment.”—I think that’s a key point. Recent studies have shown that gossip can indeed be a bonding experience for others. But as you point out, it’s best to keep that gossip light and nonjudgmental. Saying negative things about other people behind their backs is not helpful to anyone. Plus, it can easily come back to bite us!

    • Shel Harrington

      It sure can! Negativity seems to breed negativity – the older I get the less I am able to tolerate it in anything but the smallest of doses! Happy Easter, Carrie!

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