A few disclaimers, because I have some pretty harsh critics (who I genuinely appreciate), and because I’m not super touchy-feely in general, and the holidays wear me out physically and mentally…
#1 I say “happily married” because that’s what you say. I don’t know if you’re happy. You do. I’m trusting that you know more than I do on the topic and we’re going with it.
#2 None of my writing is directed specifically at anyone, unless I mention you by name. It is beyond self-absorbed to truly believe that any one person could elicit an entire blog post from me. I apologize, but my life is maddeningly busy and I genuinely don’t have time to sit around and think about specifically you that much, even if I really love and adore you. At this point in my life, my attention is commanded, not willingly given. In short, it’s not you, it’s me.
#3 “Words are a mirror. They either give us perspective on ourselves if turned inward, or perspective on the world around us if turned outward.” – Dr. Meyer, my Ethnic Lit professor in college
It’s not my responsibility to tell you which way the mirror needs to be turned for any set of specific words. That’s on you.
Now that the housekeeping is finished, we’re moving right along…
With the abundance of warm and fuzzy social media posts surrounding the holidays, there is an overwhelming amount of posts from people wishing to shout from the mountain tops how very happily married they are. Oh the hashtags… #mrssoandsoforever, #imnotaquitter, #marriageissacred #strongerthandivorce #quittingisntanoption #marriageisntamood. You guys…
First, let me congratulate you on your thriving relationship. I assume that is what you are wholeheartedly seeking, and I am genuinely cheering you on from the sidelines. Perhaps it is because I am more minimalistic than not, but posting these declarations to a select group of people who you have accepted as your virtual friends seems redundant. I am assuming that you are planning on staying in your marriage for your entire life until death parts you, because you chose to be married. I have never met a person that expected their marriage to end, but still chose to exchange vows and shoot in the dark anyway.
Sometimes (a lot of the time) people publicly proclaim how amazing or wonderful their partner is because of blatant or suspected infidelity. In 2016, the only logical action is to blow up all social media outlets with some version of the following: “Oh my gosh!!! My husband is SOOOO amazing to me and his three small children!! He truly treats me like a queen and I am SOOO blessed!” … while simultaneously scrolling through his private messages that you hacked into while he’s unsuspectingly drooling on the pillow next to you. These beauties give themselves away almost always by the time posted… 3:15 am, 1:45 am… anytime after midnight, really. My grandpa used to tell me that nothing good happens after midnight. His logic persists.
Happily married people also declare their love and devotion from the highest mountain tops because they are truly having problems. Maybe if they say all is well repetitively to as many people as possible, it will feel like all is really okay. The fake it ’till you make it mentality. I jump on that bandwagon all the time when it comes to parenting, so no judgment from me, but own it if that’s you. If you are a spouse or partner that needs your ego stroked via social media (“Awww, look Bob. Linda posted that she appreciated me taking out the trash this morning. She must really love me.”) you may need to reevaluate your priorities.
The meat and potatoes of this issue is that you should ultimately be communicating with your partner, and the success of your relationship should shine through your genuine love and respect for each other. Who am I to speak on marriage anyway, you may ask (as beads of judgement and self-validation pour from your palms and forehead)? I am, in fact, a devout believer in love and marriage. Afterall, I’ve done it twice (it’s a joke, calm down, take a moment to wipe that reproach from your brow…). While the majority of marriages do not weather the storms of time and ultimately sink in divorce, the shipwrecks we are left with are almost always horribly surprising to those of us at the helm. I promise we don’t plan the devastation experienced in the aftermath of a split and sometimes, (gasp) it is unavoidable and the best decision. In my last post, I discussed the difference between what we want and what is ultimately best. Marriage is sometimes, unfortunately, a perfect example. I wanted my marriage to last. I wanted my husband and I to die in each other’s arms seconds apart like Noah and Allie in The Notebook. Turns out, the best decision for us was cutting ties and beginning again with just the kids and I. If your first thought is, “There’s no way that’s true,” I ask that you and I sit down and discuss. You may need to hear something I have to say.
The disconnect occurs when a person cannot fathom anything horrible happening in their own lives that would constitute divorce, and their partner surely would never engage in any behavior that would validate leaving, scrapping the marriage, cutting losses and walking away. I’m not encouraging pessimistic mentality in relationships, but I am pushing you to realize that we are talking about humans in a broken world, and any sense of control we think we have regarding the actions and behavior of any human (even YOUR human) in this broken world is a farce. You and your partner are Christians? My ex-husband and I are Christians. God is in control? Absolutely He is. GOD is in control. Not you, regardless of how strong, fierce and well-meaning that perceived control is according to you. And sometimes, because of other people’s (Christians or not) free will, the BEST place for you and your children is NOT in the God-ordained marriage you excitedly created and built from the ground up.
Let’s revisit these hashtags whirling around the internet, validating relationships left and right.
#mrssoandsoforever – Yes, we know. You’re married. We assume that your expectation is that it lasts forever.
#imnotaquitter – You know what else isn’t a quitter? Abuse. Addiction. Infidelity. Food for thought for the publicly self-proclaimed happily marrieds.
#marriageissacred – Absolutely. As is our children’s well-being, emotional and spiritual development and life. Safety. The ability to sit in your own house with the doors locked and fear what is outside instead of what is within. All very sacred.
#strongerthandivorce – Fantastic. But are you already scrolling through his private messages that you hacked into while he’s unsuspectingly drooling on the pillow next to you? Please tell me you see the problem there. Are you stronger than addiction, abuse and mental illness? If you say yes, you haven’t had those issues brush close enough to your own life to weigh in.
#quittingisntanoption – Please see #imnotaquitter. Sometimes it is absolutely the BEST and only option.
#marriageisntamood – I’m kind of beating a dead horse, but neither is addiction, abuse, mental illness… you see where I’m going with this.
I love seeing anniversary posts and birthday posts and lovey dovey posts from all of you who really capitalize on a special day to lift your special someone up and recognize their place in your life. However, you should know that continually posting how amaaaaazzzing your husband/wife/girlfriend/boyfriend/non-organic partner/baby daddy is in a pretend dimension (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.) actually communicates the exact opposite. Its two shakes away from those joint social media accounts. If people weren’t talking about you before, they will be now, and they’ll be wondering which one of you cheated or lied or talked to the neighbor a little too long in the driveway this evening before dinner.
And you do know social media is a pretend dimension, right?