As with last week’s post, this post will be most relevant within marriage itself. However, it will be most useful to be aware of these kinds of issues from before marriage
I was recently reading an article by another relationship columnist, about 5 reasons that marriage does not work anymore. All the reasons that he gave were very cogent, however it was the final reason that struck me in particular, especially because I write this blog, and because of my own activity on social media. To summarise the reason, he says that social media makes it very easy to throw out privacy that is essential for nurturing the deep intimacy of a successful marriage. Combining this with the previous reason, which talks about an incessant yearning for attention (once again facilitated by social media), it struck me so powerfully that a big temptation in marriage would be to make marriage itself into one unending competition with other married couples; to “prove” which married couples love one another the most, are most successful, are having the most fun in their marriages. This then would detract from the marriage itself because then your focus would not actually be on your marriage or on your spouse, but rather on proving how amazing your life is; life gets sucked out of your marriage as it merely becomes a vehicle through which to impress other people, rather than being considered valuable and precious in its own right. Imagine this: instead of being busy looking at your amazing husband, telling him how much you adore him, you’re busy looking at…your smartphone, trying to think up a status update to express to other people…how amazing your husband is…how much you adore him.
It’s so easy to imagine this as I can already see people doing this in their not-yet-married lives. You know how some people unashamedly talk endlessly about their amazing lives? Well I used to think that that was the whole point of social media! When I first started using Facebook those years ago I would post endless status updates, artfully crafted to be “just so”, and my entire “About Me” section was fully populated with various details and references to show how “cool” I was, and how much I loved life, how much I was living it to the full. The point came where I actually had to force myself to delete my entire “About Me” section that I had so painstakingly created, and these days I have to be extremely disciplined about not overposting status updates.
So the impulse is still there, at least with the status updates but I have to restrain myself. And I just know it would be so easy to translate this into marriage – to talk endlessly about your spouse, to drop oh so witty comments designed to demonstrate how utterly amazing your marriage is, how deeply in love you are with one another. Ironically, this is quite similar to what I myself did in writing the open letter to my husband. The only saving grace with that post is that I of course do not yet have a husband. But I was thinking that within marriage that kind of gushing post is exactly the kind of thing that could contribute to the idea of marriage as a performance art, and as positive as that post was, for the sake of healthy marital privacy, that kind of post would need to be kept to an absolute minimum (even if everything I expressed on that post turned out to be completely, resoundingly and unassailably true).
A positive thing?
Sometimes you know how you want to cultivate positivity around you by celebrating the amazing people and friendships that you have around you? This is especially true perhaps when you are trying to remain positive in the midst of disappointment or things not quite working out how you might have hoped. Or perhaps you might try to “overwrite” or drown out interactions with negative people by focusing on and sharing amazing interactions with positive people? That motive might in and of itself be very positive, but I’m thinking that it could still result in making too much of your marriage visible to other people, and thereby unconsciously making it vulnerable to what other people might say or think. Imagine this dreadful scenario: that as a couple you actually fall into the habit of evaluating the success of your marriage based on how many “likes” or comments you receive on your marriage-related posts on social media. That thought makes me shudder. This is something that I have to remind myself, especially because I write this blog: other people do not “own” my marriage, other people do not “have a right” to know what goes on in my private life, or my marriage, just because I write this blog on relationships. My marriage is private. It is between my God, my husband and myself.
For me in particular the temptation to talk very excitedly about my marriage is all the greater precisely because I write this blog talking about my very high marital expectations. So then the temptation will be to talk excitedly about my marriage in a way which “proves” that all these extremely high expectations have been met, thereby validating these principles that I share here on this blog. It would be so easy to exaggerate everything, to drag every tiny detail of married life into use as ammunition to prove how desperately happy we are. Everything suddenly becomes utterly amazing! My husband would be (forced to be) outstanding in every way! This would be extremely dangerous; not only for the marriage, but even for sheer sanity.
Huggie-Wuggie after marriage: how much to reveal?
Which conveniently leads me onto this topic, which I have already spent some time thinking over; namely this: after I do eventually get married (by God’s grace) how much of my own marital experiences will it be appropriate to share on this blog? Gulp! For now, all these posts can be excused as being theoretical. But then after marriage, it will no longer be theoretical. I don’t want my husband to feel that the whole world, or the readers of this blog, might be able to read his every action through this blog; I would not want to make him feel uncomfortable in that way. If it comes to that, I would much rather give up writing this blog than put my marriage under pressure in any way. But I’m hoping it does not come to that. Even if I was not deliberately, explicitly talking about my husband, because I will undoubtedly be thinking of him a lot, there might be times when I might unconsciously have him in my mind, and I might unconsciously describe his habits, and then he might think that I amwriting about him, or trying to make a point to him, if he recognises himself in what I am writing about, even if I am not deliberately setting out to write about him.
A few weeks ago I was chatting to my sisters, and we spoke of the time when I would get married, and one sister said “And then you can stop writing Huggie-Wuggie!” And I just looked at her! Actually I’m not planning to stop when I get married! On one hand, yes, I have written so many personal posts which are all about myself. On the other hand I am not writing this blog primarily because I am single and I am hoping to get a husband. Rather the opposite is true, in that I am single because I have applied the principles I talk about on this blog! Even after I myself by the grace of God do get married I still hope to apply what understanding I have to help other people make the best choices for their marriages. I’ve often asked myself how I could make a clear demarcation between this blog and my own marriage, to not reveal too much about my own marriage, when it actually does occur. And thus far I’ve not been able to think of a satisfactory answer. It would be such a shame to stop writing this blog. However my own marriage is genuinely so important to me that I just don’t want to take that risk of making it too public. Perhaps what I need to do is look at other relationship bloggers/writers, and how much they reveal, or how they avoid revealing things. To be candid, I would prefer not to reveal anything at all!
Above all else, I would want my husband to know that he and he alone is the person I am desperately trying to impress most of all, after God. I don’t want to invite the world into our marriage, allowing them to give their opinion on different issues, as if their opinion matters. Let’s keep this private, and beautiful, and amazing, between us, and let the rest of the world think whatever they might think, and let’s jealously guard our focus and our attention and our approval overwhelmingly for one another.
1 Peter 5v8:
Be sober, be vigilant; because[a] your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.
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