Why the #Loveyourspousechallenge is Actually Awesome

I get it. Chain-letter-like things on social media can get annoying. They seem never ending until you realize that you haven’t seen one in a few days. It fizzles out, we forget we were ever irritated, and we collectively move on.

However, I am actually really enjoying this one.

My friends have shared their gorgeous wedding photos, kind words, and warm memories. They have been forced to dig through the million photos of their kids and dogs to find the precious times that connected them as a couple. What’s not to love about husbands and wives sharing how much they love each other?

Apparently, quite a bit.

A few bloggers have written to say that they think the whole thing is wildly inauthentic.

Heads up: being “inauthentic” to a Millennial is THE WORST THING you could possibly be. You may be an awful person, but as long as you “own” that you are an awful person, you’re being your “authentic” self. It’s insane, but true.

One blogger says it this way:

“My marriage is not as perfect as yours.
(insert dramatization of a “typical” #loveyourspouse post)
Sometimes I wistfully ‘Like’ these statuses. Sometimes I cock my head and think, ‘Hold up. Didn’t she just tell people she’s secretly researching divorce lawyers?’ And sometimes I cringe a little to myself, because yikes, there are SO MANY DAYS when I’m not sure I could shout such things from the rooftops…and many days my husband couldn’t shout such things about me.”
(Check out the rest of the article here for a more complete picture of what she’s getting at).

Yikes, indeed.

The first thing I thing needs to be addressed here is that the #loveyourspousechallenge is not, and was never about comparing your marriage to someone else’s marriage. It’s a bad idea and it shows our deep insecurities in big ways. Comparison will drive you crazy (at best).

Honestly, there is no winning on social media. You either post things that are too real (i.e. the “save that for your therapist” posts) or too perfect (i.e. “I spent twenty minutes selecting a filter” posts). We judge people who post about everyday life, (“Ugh, if I have to see one more status update about how her day is going I’m clicking ‘unfollow’”) and we judge people for posting only the highlights, (“Ugh, everything she posts is about some major happy-shiny thing, SHOW ME THE GRIT SO I CAN FEEL BETTER ABOUT MINE”).

Balancing the two is a stressful circus act that may require a Ph.D. in Marketing.

Best of luck.

Second thing: People who participate in this challenge are not saying marriage is all sunshine and rainbows. They’re saying that they have something to celebrate. AND THEY DO.

We don’t need to caveat that marriage is hard. We know that. We hear it all the time. The narrative for marriage in this country is not one that makes people want to go down to the courthouse and get hitched. Why do you think my generation is cohabitating in greater numbers than ever? Marriage is SCARY when you’ve grown up with a divorce rate hovering around 30–40%.

An elderly woman a classmate interviewed recalled it like this:

“Divorce used to be like a death in the family. It caused real grief for people who weren’t even closely involved. It happens so often now that we hardly notice.”

That’s if you get divorced. We all see how devastating an unhealthy marriage can be even if divorce never happens (note: I did not say “unhappy marriage” but, that’s a different post). We are right to be scared, apprehensive, or embittered. So, trust me, you don’t have to remind us that marriage is hard. We’ve heard enough negativity about marriage to last a lifetime.

This blogger’s friend, who posted a memory for the #loveyourspousechallenge, let’s talk about her for a moment. Obviously, she’s struggling in her marriage. Does that mean she shouldn’t post a loving comment about her spouse because it isn’t “real/authentic”?

I say she is the exact person who needed this kind of challenge. The nature of the word “challenge” implies that this may be difficult. You may have been tagged in this challenge during the best or hardest time in your marriage. Most of us will find ourselves somewhere in between. Remembering the times when love felt the strongest and most real in marriage is never a waste. Those are the times that keep us going.

Pumping out words of kindness when it feels like we are pulling from a dried up well is the exact type of love marriage requires. Love that sacrifices and honors the good in another human being in spite of their imperfection is strong love.

So friends, go ahead and share those incredible wedding photos one more time. Show us the sunny vacations and daddies holding their littles. Post about the precious times when you sat on the floor and ate pizza because you charred dinner. We need it. We NEED to remember why we keep doing this beautiful marriage thing when it hurts us in the most vulnerable places. Show us why you keep going.

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