Should You Blog About Your Spouse?

Woman Blogging

When he wants your life to be private, but you don't--six rules to follow when blogging about love.

Recently, I landed on a newbie blog, and was surprised by how much its author revealed. She wrote of her husband's drinking and her feud with one of his ex-girlfriends. I'd seen new bloggers fall into this trap before: Developing a familiarity with their readers who didn't have a sense of them yet. And it got me thinking. Often I write about my husband—we've been married nine years—and to hit on real truths, I've shared some of our struggles. He's a great guy, committed and unflappably honest. But does my blog reflect that? Marriage Complaints: Take this Challenge

I recently chatted with Sue O'Lear about her blog, Mrs. Fatass. She'd begun her blog as a weight loss diary, but it soon evolved to include her life as a yankee transplanted to the South. "I was lonely when we moved," she said. "I didn’t know a soul. My husband was very supportive of the virtual connections I made through blogging."

And they'd had an unspoken agreement that she wouldn’t use her blog as a platform for portraying him as a villain. Rather she'd made him a likeable character, one her readers identified with—and felt invested in. The Marriage Secret Nobody Likes To Admit — Revealed

Her blog, she thinks, benefits their marriage. "He can read my thoughts about certain things and take time to understand a point of view without us being in the heat of the moment," she said.

It wasn't until she started blogging about her struggles with Social Anxiety Disorder that he worried about what she shares publicly. "But he sees a lot of people reaching out saying, 'That happens in my house!' and knows people are learning from it," she said. "He's willing to be embarrassed once in awhile if it's for a greater good."

But then she posted about a touchy conversation they'd had, and he was apprehensive. "It didn’t necessarily make him look great," she said. "But he never told me not to hit publish."

In it, she talks about how he had revealed to her that he struggled with her anxiety diagnosis. "Anxiety is something everybody has," she said. "So why does mine get the special attention?" But she felt its theme was relatable. "I think that conflict is common for any couple where one spouse has a diagnosis." He relaxed after reviewing her readers' comments.

So is it possible to take your blog to the next level, without opening yourself up and leaving your loved ones exposed?

I talked to Julie Spira, author of The Rules of Netiquette: How to Mind Your Manners on the Web, who advised me on the matter. "Sometimes blogging can be cathartic for yourself personally," she said. "And, at the same time, can give you the opportunity to share personal experiences from an authentic standpoint to help others in their relationships." She is in favor of it, "as long as there are boundaries."

With her advice, here are some guidelines I think bloggers should follow before they hit "publish":

1. Is your spouse OK with your blogging? What are your spouse's boundaries? Do they want you blogging at all? "When in doubt, don’t," said Julie. "At the end of the day, sharing your emotion versus preserving your marriage, your marriage has to stay higher on the totem poll."

2. Are you being authentic to who you are? The Internet gives you freedom to recreate yourself. "Authenticity is so key to building a brand online," Julie said. "And your blog is your brand. The more authentic you are, the more people will resonate with you.

3. Does your blog help or heal? "If you’re helping people, and it's healing for you to write, then you should write," said Julie.

4. Do you "add on"? We all experience setbacks. By "adding on," you can leave your reader in a positive light and move your story ahead. "Say, 'I really look forward to...,'" said Julie.

5. Have you talked about the issue with your spouse? Your spouse shouldn't log on to find out you have an issue he or she didn't know about.

6. Think about your digital footprint. It can damage your—and your spouse’s—ability to get hired. "Somebody who is thinking about hiring you may think you have marital problems or you’re not emotionally healthy for some reason," said Julie. "Everybody’s interpretations are different."

Bottom line: "Don’t make your spouse look like a jerk," said Julie.

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Do you blog about your private life? How do you decide where to draw the line?