I totally get it, the knee jerk reaction to people posting "perfect" pictures when given the Spouse Challenge (or any other challenge) on social media. Especially if you yourself are experiencing in your day a very different type of marriage. Realize though my friends, when we extinguish other people's joy, other people's choice to put their attention toward the GOOD in life, we are promoting the exact culture of shaming that our guts are fighting against when our reality does not match their posted pictures.
Realize that marriage is both beautiful AND ugly. We all know it. I don't think everyone understands that by backlashing against those who are choosing to highlight probably the most joyous moments that keep them going during the tough times, that by dismissing it and calling it "fake" we are continuing a toxic shaming culture. Those moments of pure bliss, of laughing, of love, of tenderness, ARE real. So are the moments of chaos, and arguing, and tension. No, we don't tend to capture those moments on camera. Yes, we could. Sure, we could post those too. In fact, we could post all of them, because ALL of them is what actually represents marriage.
So why are people choosing (because in fact it IS their choice. There is not something in the Spouse Challenge that says "post only picturesque photos of those moments in your life you were 100% perfect") which pictures of their life they feel like illuminating and sharing with their friends? Because likely they are LIVING plenty cycles of both the beautiful and the ugly and are mindful that what they focus on GROWS. Plenty of research shows, what you focus on GROWS.
Do we need more validating descriptions of marriage that reflect both the ugly and the beautiful? Of course. In fact one might even argue we need more examples of the beautiful because we all hear about the ugly. When we share the ugly, we help others because we need to feel like we are not alone in those ugly times. Does it need to ONLY be the definition of being REAL? Heck no. You guys, if we ONLY focus on the miserable, then THAT will grow.
We need both. Have you ever stopped to think that by shaming the marriages that ARE going well that you hurt their feelings too? I remember Shonda Rhimes saying part of her kept herself heavy because she felt ashamed for "having it all." She thought if she was so successful in every other area of life she was not entitled to having a body that was as healthy as it could be either. Validating is not just for the down hearted, it is also for those who are doing something beautiful. We all have moments of both. That is why when creating TRUE Conversations I so mindfully created something in hopes to promote a culture of well roundedness, of the ying and the yang, the beautiful and the ugly, the transparent and the uplifting. "TRUE" stands for Transparent Real stories THAT uplift and empower.
I admit it, I am not perfect either. I write this call to action knowing full well someone could easily go through my social media and say, "You have shamed this group of people by saying this too." In those instances I am truly sorry. I am trying harder to not shame myself, and not shame others. Isn't this an entirely new skill for ALL of us? When we used to have an opinion we would say it in person to people WITH the knowledge of knowing if they agreed with us or not. We would react to something they shared with us with their feelings in mind. I mean think about it, if one of your friends came over to your house and showed you all of these photos of the best time of their life after having gone through what you knew was a rough patch, would you turn around and say to them, "Oh gosh, well uh thanks for sharing but I know for a fact that isn't ACTUALLY what your marriage is like." NO! So why do we say those things on social media when we have NO Idea what our friends are going through?
So here is my promise, and if you want to, take it on with me: When I write or post I will ask myself, "Would I say this to someone's face in a conversation in my living room with the knowledge that they could stand on either the opposite side of the issue or the same?" That is the world we live in. We do not know if those we are care about are living in the BEAUTIFUL stage of marriage or the UGLY, so let's assume either, and share both.