Some people will tell you that marriage is a magical wonderland of soul mates, great sex, and shmoopsie-poo unicorns farting roses while snacking on rainbows; I am not that person. Marriage is WORK, regardless of what anyone tells you, because it's two separate people shoehorning their lives together to become one entity while also trying to maintain a individual identity for themselves. I personally have always subscribed to the Three C's of marriage: Compromise, Concession, and above all, COMMUNICATION. Learn when to give in, learn when to give up, and learn when to talk about it. Talk about it ALL THE TIME: the stupidest things and the most important things. If you can tell your partner about how your best day ever went or how today was quiet and uneventful, it makes it so much easier to say "Hey, there is something somewhat important we should discuss because this is how I'm feeling". Your partner is not psychic, no matter much we wish them to be, and communication is key in order to make sure that walls don't come up and resentments form. P.S., this is totally my opinion. Bulldoze ahead with everything in your marriage, treading lightly is for suckers.
HOWEVER, this changes when it's not your marriage. Chicks talk; this is a universal truth. We talk to everyone about any damn thing, and it just gets worse as we get older and then suddenly we're the chipper old lady in the checkout aisle at Safeway discussing our cats with the harried mother of twelve ahead of us in line. It happens to the best of us. Women talk. We talk about our kids; we talk about laundry. We talk about TV, and the Internet, and books; we talk about what fell out of our uterus this month in comparison to what fell out of our uterus last month, and a lot of the time we talk about our spouses. This is where it gets tricky, and this is where I actually start this post.
When discussing your marriage with a true honest-to-god friend, they're going to reciprocate. You're both going to bitch and moan about how the lawn didn't get mowed or how they constantly forget to hang up the coats or put their damn clean socks away, and this is natural. This isn't complaining so much as it is GRUMPING, and grumping good-naturedly about "ha ha those silly men and their MANLY things" or "dang boys are stupid" is fine and dandy because it's stuff that you rag on them about and then they do it eventually and it's just something you deal with because socks and lawns and coats are tiny minuscule things in the Land of Happy Bells and Unicorns. You both giggle and sigh about the stupid toilet seat never making it's way back down to the bowl....but then something happens. Your friend who was just good-naturedly grumping about her husband starts talking about how the sonofabitch refuses to do a damn thing around the house and just sits on the computer all day and he doesn't even MOVE to help when there are stacks of dirty dishes around or piles of laundry and the kids are running around naked pissing in the corner of the room.
Here's the advice part, kids: DON'T GET OVERLY-INVOLVED. She is your friend, and you love her, but trying to help is a very thin and delicate string you're treading on. Listen to her kvetch for as long and as hard as she wants. Sympathize with her plight. Give her a shoulder to cry on. Hell, make her a loaf of chocolate chip triple fudge awesome cake if you want to....but some things are best left to the professionals.
1) Ask pointedly and repeatedly "Have you told HIM about how you feel? Because you need to tell him, not just me".
2) Say "Boys are dumb. Re-train him", in a happy, aren't-I-ironically-sexist way.
3) Give a "whoa" when she's done and stops to breathe. You're entitled, because WHOA damn.
4) Offer advice by starting with "well, the way (blank) and I do it when it gets like this is..." and tell her how you deal with shit when the pot boils over. If it works for you, mention it, but don't push it. Advice becomes Assvice when it starts with "What you NEED to do" and "What you SHOULD do is"...
UNDER NO FUCKING CIRCUMSTANCES:
1) Should you offer to have a three-way conference over the phone and act as a mediator. This is bullshit, and somewhat offensive, because this person you're offering to Doctor Phil with was just listening to you complain about moving mountains to get some goddamned socks put away. Your marriage isn't perfect; you're not qualified. Hell, I don't know if anyone is.
2) Suggest therapy. This is only because each individual views therapy in a different way, and what's good for the goose could possibly cause the gander to run out into traffic. That's left to their own personal decision and to even suggest it leaves you open to a disastrous friendship-ending fight down the road should they try it and things get worse.
3) Mention religion. I'm an ex-catholic, so I can say this because I'm bitter and would never bring it up myself. ZING!
4) Ask "do you want ME to talk to him?" OH MY GOD, NEVER DO THIS. This goes back to number 1, making yourself a mediator in a situation that has fuck-all to do with you. Plus, if you talk to your friend's spouse and they say something you weren't ready for, what are you going to do? Why would their spouse open up to your goofy ass anyway, KNOWING that you're going to report back to the wife?
Talk to your friend, help her through it, but don't go within 30 feet of their bedroom.
Talk to your spouse. Talk talk talk talk talk about everything and nothing, talking is ENGAGING that special person in your life and getting them involved in communication, which is why we have vocal cords and not special psychic mind-reading horns in the middle of our foreheads. It engenders trust, and forthrightness in a marriage. I believe that it's a good thing.