Marriage is not an easy feat. There are a lot of things that go on behind closed doors that no one knows about. Good and bad things – healing and pain.
I think in the back of their minds, every person knows this to be true. Especially if you grew up with parents who didn’t get along very well. Within all of us, though, there is a hope, a childlike belief that maybe our marriage will be better. Perhaps it will not be anything like what we’ve seen, or maybe just like what we grew up knowing if we’re lucky.
Lately, I’ve had a few people tell me my life appears pretty much perfect from the outside, especially my marriage. I was more than a little shocked to hear this.
Where is this image coming from? Instagram. Now that I consider it, this is not so surprising.
Oh, honey I am so choosy with what I post on Instagram. Of course it looks like we’re always great! But I didn’t take this as a compliment. It actually worried me when I heard it first. And then a little more when someone else mentioned it. Sometimes things are messy and – well, no most of the time – they are not perfect.
I know there are stories to what people post. There cannot be a single person that isn’t freaking out a little bit about their picture right before they post it. Unless you’re a 45 year old man that literally does not give an F. Props to that guy for even having an Instagram.
Let me give you an example….
Nick and I celebrated our two year anniversary this past Tuesday, but we actually went out on Saturday to celebrate. We went hiking, as you see above, and went out to a fancy dinner. It was a pretty amazing weekend, I will admit.
We came home from this lovely dinner on Saturday and the night did not go as expected. We fought. It was not a small disagreement. It was ugly and it was hard. There were tears and there was yelling. We both felt hurt. We were both angry and it all blew up very quickly.
There are things we need to learn as partners in life, like how to communicate more openly or how to allow someone to work through your baggage with you. Letting your spouse help with the dishes can be hard, much less letting them help you through insecurities and sins you’d rather not discuss. It can be the hardest thing and it does NOT come naturally to me. My response is to run away. I’m the type to ask Nick to leave the room so I can collect myself, or I leave the room. This actually happened twice on Saturday.
Maybe you’re reading this going “oh, man, that’s not good!” I would be thinking the same thing. We’re supposed to let people in so they can help. In the moment though, I didn’t really see why it would be wrong to hide. I thought I was protecting him, sparing him from having to deal with me in such an irrational and shall we say, weepy, mood.
When he came back to talk to me, he was upset, understandably so, but this was so not clear to me at the time. I had no idea why. In my mind, the nastiness I know of myself should not be shared. Those I love should be protected from it, so I don’t hurt them. I never thought this action would actually be the thing that caused pain.
In that moment I learned that’s not the way marriage was designed. For better or worse means he loves at my worst, blubbering and all.
In conclusion, God redeems.
I follow some bold people on Instagram. Mostly for a little inspiration, a kick in the pants, if you will. They share their dark moments to encourage others into freedom from theirs. That vulnerability is so beautiful to me. Yet, I am terrified of it. I feel it is easier and safer to hide. I also feel people will become annoyed if I share too much. “That girl just wants attention”, “why is she telling us this”, “who cares”. This is what I imagine people thinking when they read this. These fears kept me from even having an Instagram account for years. I avoided it because I was so afraid of rejection.
I will never experience freedom this way, and neither will you.
That doesn’t mean I’m going to post every struggle I have on Insta, or write about all the intimate details of my baggage and how it affects my marriage. But I want to be clear. It is REAL and it DOES.
It may not mean I’m going to fully lay out my mess, but it does mean that the way people see me on social media matters to me. It shapes what they think of my marriage and maybe what they think of marriage in general. This is especially true since I moved 1,700 miles away from my closest friends and family. It is that idea that worries me.
When those comments were made about my life seeming perfect, I would say, “don’t trust just what you see on my Instagram, that isn’t real life.” And it’s true, you can ask our friend Jordan, who graciously let us live with him for 3 months. See if he says our relationship is sunshine all the time. I promise he will laugh and say NOPE.
Real life is messy and it can be full of pain. There are times I spend away from Instagram for weeks at a time, just scrolling through, not posting. I’m not a daily poster. Sometimes that’s because I don’t have anything to share, but the majority of the time it’s because I don’t think I have anything of worth to share.
In my mind, what I do want to share is not good enough or cute enough or clever enough to post or it won’t get more than 100 likes. Yes, I think about these things. I know you do too, even for a split second, no matter how good your pictures are. “Will people like it?”
What if our online presences were realistic representations of our lives? Maybe yours is. I applaud you. Mine, is not. I don’t want to be unrelatable to people that are struggling with insecurity and anxiety and things I could comfort them in. I am a mess. I am currently in a groutfit with purple pink and blue striped fuzzy socks on my feet.
I have a short temper. I do not always get along with my husband. I say cuss words in very inappropriate situations. I care way too much about what I look like and sometimes stress over how good (or bad) my abs look. I throw mini-fits when plans change. I like to be in charge a little too much. I change my personality at times to make people like me. I take pride in being bold and sometimes come off rude instead. I get insanely anxious when I make new friends because I want them to like me so badly. I worry about money. I am not easy on myself about anything.
Here’s another point I want to make – if you struggle with any of those things I mentioned, getting married will not fix any of them. I think a lot of women believe that a man making a promise to them will help them feel worthy. Let me tell you straight – IT WILL NOT FIX YOU. You will still be anxious. You will still be terrified of vulnerability. You will still struggle to feel beautiful when you look in the mirror. And you will still freak out about silly things that are not important but cause fights (ahem).
I don’t want to be an unrelatable face that makes other women feel like their lives are inferior to mine. I know this happens, because it happens to me most days when I’m scrolling. I want that woman’s house, or her skin, or her hair, or all the money she seems to have that I foolishly believe will help me feel more at peace.
I could ignore this effect and keep trying to show the world that life is perfect.
Let’s face it, a lot of what we know about each other comes from social media. So why not let people know more – not just what we want them to see?