Gossip Hurts

Gossip Hurts

“Great minds discuss ideas; Average minds discuss events; Small minds discuss people.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

I just saw this quote and it really made me think about the damage that gossip causes.  Gossip hurts anyone who is the target, but for someone dealing with a spouse’s affair the effects of gossip can ruin lives.  That may sound overly dramatic to you, but that’s exactly how I mean it.

Consider a normal family with a husband, wife, two kids, and a dog.  The family includes grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends.  Let’s just say that the wife has an affair with another married man who has a family network similar to hers.  How many people are ultimately affected by this affair?  Several.

So now throw in the local gossip mill at the coffee shop, the hair salon, or the church.  The church?!  What do you mean?  Well, I’ll get to that later.  But understand that there is gossip potential any time people together.  So now “Did you hear about …” starts making the rounds.

Who gets hurt by this?  Everyone in these two families has potential to be hurt.  The process of association makes everyone open to gossip in these situations.  Unfortunate, but true.  One of the saddest things is that the betrayed spouses may be the biggest recipient of negative comments.  So often, people who know nothing about circumstances draw conclusions, judge the people involved, and then share their opinions openly and widely.

There’s a situation in my family right now where my cousin is getting divorced because of an affair (his).  People who don’t know anything about what went on in their household say that his soon to be ex-wife was cold and unresponsive making their marriage unbearable and sexless for my cousin.  How do these people know this for sure?  They don’t.  And even if it’s true, why does it need to be discussed?  Unless you’re a porn star, your sex life shouldn’t be open for speculation by others.

During the time we were working through my husband’s affair, my daughter came home from school one day crying.  One of her friends asked her if she could have our dog since her parents were getting a divorce and moving to an apartment where dogs weren’t allowed.  My daughter wanted to know why we didn’t tell her we were getting divorced and that we would be moving into an apartment and giving away our dog.  She was an emotional wreck.  She thought we’d kept information from her and she thought her life was about to be turned upside down and she thought she was going to lose the pet she loved with all her heart.  None of this was true.

So let’s get back to the issue of gossip at church.  Now even church going people gossip.  That’s probably not new news to some.  One of the ways people gossip is under the guise of praying for people in difficult situations.  It usually goes something like this…  “We need to pray for Bob and Susie.”  “Oh, really?  Why?”  “Well, Bob has been having an affair with a woman at work.”  “Oh, gosh.  How terrible.  I guess Susie is upset.”  “She sure is.  She’s threatening divorce and I don’t blame her.”  “Bob always seemed a little distant to me.”  “Well, I think Susie might be difficult to live with.”  “Yeah, I guess I see that.”  “Well, let’s do remember to pray for them.”

It’s hard to say if the intention really is to offer up prayers for someone in need.  Even if a prayer is said, the gossip is still out there and everyone associated with this marriage in distress is affected – even if they don’t know it.

So, take heed of Mrs. Roosevelt’s words and don’t be small minded.  You can’t stop gossip completely because you can’t control the actions of others.  However, you don’t have to participate in a senseless activity that can be so damaging to others.




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