Several of my friends recently participated in the "Love Your Spouse" challenge on Facebook. I was nominated by a friend, but I didn't have a lot of photos of us handy, so I declined to participate. That was one reason. Another was that I wasn't sure about participating with spotlight photos of us that would present a "picture" of us for everyone to see...and compare to.
Do you ever look at photos of married couples who look so perfect and so happy and wonder, "Do they ever have challenges that cause them heartache? Are they always loving like that? Do they ever doubt?" An article posted today by a blogger who refused to participate in the challenge said something like we know and see one hundred percent of our lives, but Facebook only shows five percent. And we compare that real-life one hundred percent with everyone else's five percent of perfection. She then went on to post pictures of her and her husband fighting, driving in the car while lost and late, sleeping on the couch while trying to watch a movie because they're so exhausted. It was funny, but it was also more accurate. This girl was a young mom in the throws of nursing and sleepless nights with babies. She was tired and feeling real.
After reading that article I thought about my friends who posted. It occurred to me that I didn't have many young friends who posted. Most of the posts on my feed came from older couples. Not old in age, but more seasoned in marriage. They posted pictures of their marriages years earlier and of more recent trips and current activities, and all with appreciative comments. Why were most of my friends who posted more seasoned couples? I have a theory.
The good stuff, the really good stuff comes later in the journey.
The true appreciation we gain for our spouses comes later. It comes after the honeymoon years, after the kids are nearly grown, after illness, the loss of parents, the gut-wrenching, drive-you-to-your- knees trials...after refining experiences that help us see through different eyes. I see many young people declare that they married their best friend. I didn't. But he became my best friend on our journey. He's had my back through some difficult periods, and I've had his. When I look at that cute (very young) couple in the picture posted above, I no longer think, "young love birds," or "what a beautiful couple," or any of the idealistic things we think about the couples in wedding photos. At this stage in life I think, "They had no idea what the journey would be like." And I see how far they have come. I don't even feel like that girl in the photo anymore.
To sum up my thoughts I would give the following advice--As you look at those "Love Your Spouse" challenge photos, remember that they are not perfect couples. That they've been through some tough trials. They argue like you do, they cry like you do, and they've been on their knees many, many times just like you have. The joy is in the journey, and the reward comes later on.
After twenty nine years of marriage I can boast that we've hung on. We've stayed together through doubt, discouragement and despair. Our faith is the reason that we keep walking. We both have loyal personalities, but we both have strong testimonies of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We keep trying because we want to make it. We also love each other deeply and appreciatively. I can't imagine going through life with anyone else. I married the person that was going to challenge me to grow, although I didn't know that at the time. He's funny and sweet, hardworking and diligent, resilient and compassionate, and the best partner in parenting. I learn from his example, and I am lighter because of his sense of humor and positive personality.
Next time you come across one of those challenges and look longingly at the perfection, remember that there's ninety-five percent of that story not showing. Don't compare. Do your best and keep walking forward improving yourself and your relationship wherever you can. Appreciate your journey and embrace it.
I'm a wife and mother of two of the sweetest girls ever. In my former life, I was an elementary school teacher. I love learning and sharing experiences, and the chance to journal for posterity. I wish I knew as much about my ancestors as my posterity is going to know about me!