I debated whether to post this, but I think I’ll make this one public on purpose. I preface this piece with this simple statement,
“What I am about to share I do so in love and with the sincere attempt to help myself and others reflect more deeply in how we relate to one another”.
I think the author of the response to the #LoveYourSpouse challenge is wonderful and a very talented writer and I think she also missed a golden opportunity by viewing the challenge negatively.
There is an assumption in her thesis that the #Lovemyspouse challenge required airbrushed, photo shopped moments that celebrate love and marriage. I happen to think that the photos she shared fit perfectly into the challenge. There’s nothing that says we can’t use FB to share our authentic lives.
That being said, I personally think that folks are better off not making ALL of their personal business public, but that my personal perspective.
I also waffled on whether or not to participate in the challenge and was a little hesitant to tag people because I agree that these things can get out of hand. Hashtag Advocacy has its appeal but I feel that it’s what you do AFTER you raise awareness on an issue that truly matters when you’re looking to affect change. Again, my personal perspective.
However, every single moment I shared I did so: (1) as an encouragement to others who are married or want to be at some point; (2) to recognize the awesomeness of my hubby who is perfectly imperfect just like me; and, (3) to remind myself of the backstories behind those moments and the work it took to get to each of them.
I also carefully considered each of the people who I tagged to invite them into the celebration of remaining married. Each person I tagged I KNOW has something positive to say about marriage and their spouse that could bless someone else and to me, that was the prevailing point of the challenge. Lessons learned in how to be more effective peacemakers. Even the occassional “I was about to choke my spouse for being ridiculous, but then I remembered the time s/he put gas in my car without me asking so that I didn’t have to start my day off with that” kinda of story.
Marriage is a life’s work for both people committed to the union. Every marriage can benefit from encouragement from time to time. Sure, we can choose to view another couple’s successes as some type of defeated inditement on our marriage state, OR we can view it as a positive, something aspirational to encourage us along our own martial journey.
I think the challenge was good and healthy giving people the choice to celebrate whatever aspects of marriage they wished to share. I don’t see the need to criticize the effort nor its intention. I do respect those who choose not to participate because we all have that right of choice. But participation in the challenge does not equate to those people trying to say that they have perfect marriages. I say again, my marriage is perfectly imperfect and I’m good with that and so is my spouse who I talked to before writing this response. We have our whole entire lives to get it right.
This is to me just another example of how we still have work to do in how to process these cyber lives of ours. There is a huge about of “work” we need to do to figure out how to engage others in this online world without causing mental or emotional harm. The lack of real face to face interaction I think hampers our human ability to process these types of encounters. I took the time to read many of the negative responses to the Love Your Spouse challenge and they ALL left me asking the question
“When did sharing positive messages become such a negative?”
I trying to work this out in my mind two popular culture references came to my remembrance. The first is a show called Black Mirror which I’ll warn you is dark in a way that actually overwhelmed me and made me have to put it down. However, it is a deep thinking work on how we as a society interface with one another though the black mirrors of our technologies. Think about all those black surfaces of your televisions, computers and cell phones. We’ve built these portals that can both draw us together and create artificial distances at the same time. There is an intoxicating freedom, no that’s not quite right, there is a divorcing of accountability that visits itself on some of us that LIVE online and that is the space in which I view danger for our human relations.
The second popular culture reference is from my beloved Harry Potter and the lesson that JKR presented to us about the importance of how we view ourselves and our circumstances. In Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone there is a scene when Harry finds the Mirror of Erised and his headmaster Dumbledore says,
“Can you think what the Mirror of Erised shows us all?” Harry shook his head.
“Let me explain. The happiest man on earth would be able to use the Mirror of Erised like a normal mirror, that is, he would look into it and see himself exactly as he is. Does that help.”
Harry thought. Then he said slowly, “It shows us what we want… whatever we want…”
“Yes and no,” said Dumbledore quietly.
“It shows us nothing more or less than the deepest, most desperate desire of our hearts. You, who have never known your family, see them standing around you. Ronald Weasley, who has always been overshadowed by his brothers, sees himself standing alone, the best of all of them. However, this mirror will give us neither knowledge or truth. Men have wasted away before it, entranced by what they have seen, or been driven mad, not knowing if what it shows is real or even possible.
“The Mirror will be moved to a new home tomorrow, Harry, and I ask you not to go looking for it again. If you ever do run across it, you will now be prepared. It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live, remember that. Now, why don’t you put that admirable cloak back on and get off to bed.”
― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
There’s a deep meaning that I can draw from these two references as relates to the response to the Love Your Spouse Challenge.
1. It’s possible that seeing messages transmitted about other people’s lives on platforms like Facebook can cause some of us to turn the mirror on ourselves and question how WE are going on about our lives. It doesn’t have to be that way. WE control how WE filter these messages.
2. Our real life experiences teach us that there’s always more beneath the surface. But doesn’t mean that we have to dive into every single pond we see. So what if one of my girlfriends had a fabulous looking destination wedding in Aruba that I didn’t get to attend. I saw the pictures on Facebook and if that made her happy then more power to her and her spouse.
We got married in the state library with a JP and bought a house. That made us happy.
So what if one of my friends is off traveling the world doing fabulous things? If s/he is happy and safe then I’m happy for them as well. I know I’m doing what I need to be doing for right now and that’s not nothing. We each of us has seasons for doing certain things and I like to be IN season.
3. We should try to show a little more kindness and consideration to one another both in the real and virtual worlds we live in. I watched an argument spiral out of control in a FB group that I love being a part of because of personality preference differences. At its root, there are some group members whose feelings are hurt because they view certain actions different from those who volunteer to manage the mechanics of the group. Rather than pick up the phone and call the person they had an issue with, it turned into this small mob like mentality of us versus them on the message board and it truly made me sick to my stomach. I had a similar reaction to reading the negative feedback on the Love Your Spouse challenge. I personally don’t feel that it’s healthy to discourage people from sharing positive things in their lives and if they want to use private counseling to deal with the messy stuff I’m right there with them on that too. They don’t OWE me an accounting of their troubles or dysfunction on Facebook. I reserve that kind of exchange for my guinuine friendships. Those people who I love and who love me enough to invest time and attention in me as I do with them not the hundreds of people I get to occasionally touch on Facebook.
Here is the link to the original post that inspired my response.
Here are the pictures that I shared during the challenge. Every one of these images has a story of hard work behind them that we celebrate along with the smiley moments. We’re perfectly imperfect and completely fine with that.