Thursday, August 4, 2016

Marriage is Hard Work, and that’s Why the ‘Love Your Spouse Challenge’ is a Good Thing

Marriage is hard work. Some days, it’s excruciatingly tough.

Then there are days where marriage is a piece of cake, and I wonder, “How did I get so lucky?”

But most of the time? Most of the time it’s tough. It’s waking up at different times and not communicating before the day begins. It’s him working a 12-hour day away from home at a dangerous job, while I try to fill time keeping the baby happy and healthy. It’s rushing to have dinner ready, so at the very least, we can have that time together at the table, talking and playing with the baby. It’s spending the evenings apart, despite being in the same home, while he studies for the next day and I clean up from dinner and get the baby to bed.

It’s sometimes, on the luckiest of nights, getting to settle down in the living room together and watch an episode of a mutually enjoyed show on Netflix, maybe even with popcorn, a bowl of ice cream, or a glass of wine. Those nights are the ones that keep everything rolling along.

Those nights provide just enough momentum to make it to the weekend, where things are much happier, more fun is had by all, and we get to spend time together and talk, hang out, go places, cook together, enjoy the outdoors (if you can even enjoy the crazy Texas heat – still working on figuring that one out), and many, many more happy photos are taken (and then shared on social media throughout the week, because let’s be real – no one wants to see eight photos from you in one day, no matter how cute your kid is. Guilty, party of one FOR SURE – sorry, guys.)

I’m sure you’ve seen the ‘Love Your Spouse Challenge’ rolling out on Facebook and other social media outlets. It’s where you’re challenged to share a photo of you and your spouse every day for seven days, spreading love to everyone who follows you – and then you tag two more people each day to keep the love going. Cheesy? Absolutely. But is it hurting anyone? You wouldn’t think so, but I have stumbled upon this article more than once between friends sharing it and seeing it posted in various groups I am in.

At first read, it makes so much sense. I’m sure we’ve all been there – struggling to realize that NO ONE is perfect and that what they share on social media is what they want everyone to THINK about them. I’m guilty. I share happy moments 95% of the time because those are the moments I WANT people to see. I’m a huge proponent of NEVER talking poorly about your spouse publicly – there is NO good that can come of it, so why bother? I do have two friends I confide in, and that is enough to help me keep my sanity when the going gets tough.

If we open our eyes to see that the perfection everyone else shares with their friends and the rest of the world isn’t perfection but simply the highlight reel of their lives, if you will, we would be much happier. In your head, you know your life isn’t perfect. You know you share the happiest of moments on social media. And you also know, deep down, that your friends don’t lead perfect lives either – even those people you keep on your friends list just to stalk, even though you haven’t talked to them in years. Even them.

Don’t compare your outtakes to another’s highlight reel. Isn’t that the truth? Some days, it’s tough not to, but take a step back and remember that the picture-perfect couple has issues too. I promise.

Everyone struggles. Being in a committed relationship is tough. There are small arguments, and there are major disagreements. Couples fight hard, day after day, to make things work and stay together, as they promised in their wedding vows.

And isn’t that what makes the ‘Love Your Spouse Challenge’ beautiful? Despite all the rough days, the arguments and disagreements, the feelings of loneliness and resentment, we still love our spouses enough to share their redeeming qualities with the rest of the world? Sometimes, it’s a reminder for ourselves at the same time. My spouse may not be perfect, but we love each other, and we made a promise to stick together through the good times AND the bad times, and even though he really irks me sometimes, he has a caring heart and has several good qualities.

Is that really so bad? With all of the hate-filled political posts on Facebook these days, seeing couples who love each other throughout the glorious mess that is marriage is a breath of fresh air, in my opinion.

After all, Teddy Roosevelt said it best: “comparison is the thief of joy”, so instead of focusing on everyone else’s seemingly perfect lives, focus instead of your own spouse and what you can do to make your marriage better.

Life should be about empowering everyone and being happy for each other. Life is not a competition, so just click ‘like’ on your friends’ posts and move on. Maybe by taking the time to focus on the positive qualities of their spouses that day, they have gained perspective on an issue within their marriage and have now committed to work on it. Be happy for them. Be happy with yourself and your own marriage. Just be happy, and love one another.

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