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Early morning hiking/running/walking promotes honesty and this morning my friend was feeling particularly blunt, “Did you see Sue’s Instagram last night?” she asked, “The one where she talks about how her husband planned every detail of their family vacation down to train tickets, car rentals and rain ponchos? Ugh, all I asked of my husband this summer was to plan one vacation for our family and he never did.”

I had to laugh just a little, because Sue happens to be another one of my hiking/running/walking friends and I happen to know her marriage contains it’s own conflicts and stresses.

Don’t misunderstand me, we don’t spend our mornings husband-bashing, in fact we pointedly avoid the practice, but these are two of my closest friends and I know their joys and sorrows.

But these two friends don’t know each other– not beyond Instagram and Facebook and occasional gatherings. Of course we’re all responsible for our own reactions, but you’ll have to forgive my friend who works long hours and could use a vacation. And really how can any of us measure up to the marriages of Instagram?

Much has been made about the modern phenomenon of young people throwing away good relationships because books, movies, music, promote, “soulmates” “never had a disagreement” “finding your other half.” (I especially like this BYU Education Week talk).

I do believe there are some marriages where everything rolls along smoothly– I’ve met people who swear they’ve never had a moment of conflict– but for most of us, marriage requires compromise, sacrifice, forgiveness and effort.

For twenty-five years I’ve been married to a gorgeous man, the father of our six children and I’d say we have an extraordinarily happy life together. But it’s been work. He’s not very patient, I’m bad with money; he’s certainly never planned a trip, but he’s also annoyed that I won’t leave the kids and go on vacation with him. Our house is filled with people and chaos and laughter and and sometimes going to bed mad, but it’s always worth getting up the next morning and creating the life we want together.

I’m not suggesting we air our dirty laundry on social media, but a bit of honesty can be refreshing and offer hope to everyone. My favorite Instagram anniversary post came from a friend saying:

“19 years with this guy! 10- wedded bliss; 8- so/so; 1- what the *#%”! did we just get ourselves into??! Thanks for the excellent adventure babe.”

Finally, let me share the words accompanying the lovely photo at the top of this piece. My young friend Meisha graciously gave me permission to share her 1st anniversary post which is, in my opinion, just the right mix of sweet and genuine.

“In the past twelve months I’ve learned we regularly drink an entire gallon of chocolate milk in two days, that we will never agree on the AC temperature– you want it cooler, I’m already freezing, and how much I love praying in our mission languages at night. I’ve learned that I love you more with time, as we build a life. And that you don’t have to be perfect to have a love story.You just have to love each other. And always work to become better for each other and with each other. XO”

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Do you think social media creates an unrealistic view of marriage?

How much is too much? Too little?

8 Comments

  1. Sandra

    September 17, 2015

    Yes.

    I’ve felt that sentiment often when I see friends I have known in real life but now live far away post about their ^*AMAZING*^ lives and marriages, when I know from seeing their lives closer up when we’ve lived close, that they aren’t so wildly different from the up/down nature of mine. But you don’t always get that through social media- no, it’s often just a highlight reel for some friends and acquaintences who only post when they are on ^*AMAZING*^ vacations, celebrating milestones or the like. When your feed is a steady diet of this it can get easy to forget that they probably are more real than amazing most of the time.

    The most helpful marriage advice I received from someone dear to me wasn’t advice at all. I was confessing the ups and downs of my marriage, asking her what hers were like at my stage. She told me something I had never fathomed from her- that their was a time she had asked her husband if he wanted to divorce, if they weren’t going to work. It made me realize that almost everyone goes up and down, but if you do it together and commit to each other, you can make it. Highlight reels are good to remind you of the good times that you’ve had together and a commitment to keep going, but those Instagram pictures are flat, and not a full perspective. It helps to look for your own highlights, but it helps me most to talk to friends in person and in real time to keep a better perspective.

  2. cristie

    September 17, 2015

    I must confess that my husband does not do our shopping at Costco on his own and then carry in the groceries. But, I honestly think it is cool that your man is that kind of guy. It’s fun for me to see the highlights going on in the lives of people I love, people I am acquainted with and others I hardly know. Somehow to know that we are all taking time to shine a light on the loveliness of what is great in our world can lift me up.

    My guess is also that I have a little more life and experience under my belt than many Instagram people. Experience has clearly taught me that we all have our “stuff” which is unique to us. The rain pours in every life and to see Sue enjoying a husband planned trip warms this old grandma’s heart. I too know that her husband has an incredible work schedule several weeks out of the year where they see very little of him. Life is like that; full of trade-offs. No one has it ALL–whatever that looks like.

    I was well reminded when Sandra said, “highlight reels are good to remind you of the good times that you’ve had together and a commitment to keep going, but those Instagram pictures are flat, and not a full perspective. It helps to look for your own highlights, but it helps me most to talk to friends in person and in real time to keep a better perspective.”

    I applaud the sunshine I find in my Instagram feed, and when someone is —
    …a little mushy
    …or sentimental
    …or throwing amazing birthday party’s
    …having a great trip
    …sharing birthday’s
    …proud of their kids
    …preparing amazing general conference breakfast’s and games
    …appreciating their blessings
    …displaying their talents
    …entertaining fairies and kids in their back yard
    …advertising their art shows

    well, I’m just happy to be me and to know them. Their goodness and creativity is a boost to me.

  3. Michelle

    February 13, 2016

    This was perfect for this particular morning. For me, I have a husband I adore. We have spent our 9.5 years married mostly happily, but last night I slept on the couch because I was mad enough at him I didn’t want to sleep next to him! I love my husband. I love that he is the father of our 5 children. I don’t love that he cannot pick up his own clothes. I love that he can build things. I don’t love that he forgets everything I tell him. I love that he teaches the children important skills. I don’t love that he drives like a crazy person. And so on….

    Sure, sometimes he’s hard to live with but I know I am hard to live with too. Social media does not portray reality, something I try to remember.

  4. Jo

    February 13, 2016

    I feel like I’m always waiting for something bad to happen. We’ve been married 12 years and together for 15 years and have yet to have any real hard times with our marriage. Sure, we occasionally get annoyed with each but no screaming fights or sleeping in separate rooms, etc. My husband reassures me that it’s possible for couples to always “like” each other but from everything I’ve heard from others it’s not, so I’m wondering when our marriage will struggle. Will it be at 20 years or 30 years….

    • Sally

      February 20, 2016

      I don’t think something bad will happen in every marriage. I’ve been married for 25 years, and we’ve never had a hard time with our marriage. There are ups and downs, but never screaming or sleeping apart either. We’re just not dramatic enough, or, at least, my husband is just too mellow. We’ve had a horrible time with one of our kids, so that’s been a struggle; I guess you can’t win everything, but I’ve always liked my husband, sometimes more, sometimes less.

      • Jo

        February 20, 2016

        That’s wonderful to hear! I actually like hearing stories of people who have been happily married for many years with no major marriage issues. It gives me hope 🙂 Of course, I realize that doesn’t mean you won’t have hardships in other ares of your life. We’ve already had health issues and job issues…

  5. M2theH

    February 14, 2016

    Sometimes when I see posts about how awesome someone’s spouse is, I think to myself “who are you trying to convince?” A lot can go on behind the scenes, and for some reason so many people think they need to present a perfect version of themselves and their families to the world.

    And when you know the people in the real world and you know that the kids in the picture marked “my kids are best friends and love each other” actually pound each other into the ground every chance they get and are not remotely best friends, you can smile at the wishful thinking.

    That’s why I try to keep it real. If I post pictures I don’t crop out the messy counter in the background. While I never bash my husband on social media, I also don’t praise him like he’s perfect (he’s not!) I don’t want to give anyone an impression that isn’t real. I don’t have a Sunday persona, I’m just me all the time.

  6. Tay

    February 14, 2016

    Social media definitely allows us to put on whatever face we want. I have friends who only focus on positive, and friends who are constantly seeking attention with negative, and friends who are in between. But I don’t think it is harmful unless we allow it to be. Just as I don’t share every moment and detail, neither do they. Oftentimes when I see posts depicting a perfect life or a confident testimony, etc, it allows me the chance to pause and reflect on where their life path has taken them.

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