My marriage is not as perfect as yours.
Seven years and two kids later, Facebook has absolutely convinced me of this. Written declarations of true love are forever cascading down my feed: You are my soul mate, baby boo-boo sugar lips. My one true love. I would never want to spend this life with anyone else by my side. Our marriage gets better and better and better AND BETTER every single day. Love you. Love you SO MUCH. You are THE BEST. Smooches.
Sometimes I wistfully “Like” these statuses. Sometimes I cock my head and think, “Hold up. Didn’t she just tell people she’s secretly researching divorce lawyers?” And sometimes I cringe a little to myself, because yikes, there are several days when I’m not sure I could shout such things from the rooftops…and many when my husband might not shout such things about me.
Is it just us? It CAN’T just be us, can it? We can’t be the only ones hitting all these rough patches, letting stressful situations get in the way of healthy conversation, sometimes going to bed angry even though The Marriage Rules say we shouldn’t. Maybe there are others like us, but Facebook says, “Nope. It’s definitely just you.”
The other day, a friend of mine summarized something she’d heard somewhere, and I love it. I LOVE IT SO HARD. “You know one hundred percent of your own life,” she said. “But on social media, you only share the best five percent of it: your baby’s first steps, your trip to the Bahamas, your graduation day. That’s all anyone else sees. It’s fascinating to keep up with those things, for sure. But it’s also why Facebook can be so discouraging: we compare one hundred percent of our own life to THE BEST five percent of everyone else’s.”
So when #LoveYourSpouse started trending, I watched curiously — and then awaited the inevitable nomination with a tiny undercurrent of dread. LOOK AT ALL THE SHINY HAPPY PEOPLE! LOOK AT ALL THE METICULOUSLY STAGED WEDDING PHOTOS! Everyone’s life was perfect. Everyone’s relationship was spotless. Everyone’s marriage consisted only of bliss and miracles and ecstasy and joyous, shimmering unicorn tears, and just that day I’d fought with my husband about something so ridiculous I couldn’t even remember how it started.
Let history show that I’m not completely opposed to chain mail-y things (though I admittedly feel pretty uncomfortable passing them on). I donated to the ALS Association during the ice bucket challenge. I accepted the “Motherhood Dare” on Mother’s Day and posted something that made me feel proud to be a mom. When my daughter got one of those “Sticker Club” letters in the mail, we shrugged and gave it a shot.
But you guys. Let’s keep it real for a minute. These chain letter “challenges” are spiraling out of control, and I don’t think I can partake in this one. Not the way I’m supposed to, at least. We have the airbrushed wedding pictures and the beaming, sparkly selfies — but I’d have to post something beyond our best five percent, because that’s not really how our union looks a lot of the time.
On Facebook, maybe, but not in real life.
If you want to see 7 days of posed photos that resemble the truth, they’re gonna look something like this:
The Love Your Spouse challenge asks participants to “celebrate love and promote marriage,” which is such a worthwhile message — any time anyone wants to champion love instead of hate, I’m on board. I’m SO with you. I post the shiny and the pretty, too. But this time, I wanted to try it with a dose of truth: Marriage is not just a glittery fairy tale. Marriage is hard. Marriage takes work. Marriage is a choice you make every day, not just one sun-soaked, euphoric wedding day, and it is a whole host of other clichés that are only overused because they are so, so accurate.
For us, anyway. Maybe it’s just us.