24 October 2016

Share Your Real Marriage, Not Just the Highlight Reel

My little family had pictures taken this past weekend with the talented Mallorie Keck. She assured us she captured some amazing photos of us, and from past experience I know it will be great! I can’t wait to see the final product! I’m sure our outfits will look perfectly coordinated, yet not too matchy-matchy, just like we planned, all of us will be smiling like we don’t have a care in the world, and no one will guess that we just had complete chaos getting ready and a tears-filled car ride there. Our house had an explosion of fresh laundry on every surface since I wasn't quite sure which outfits we should wear. My daughter threw a tantrum wanting her pink boots instead of the brown ones I had set out. My hubby asked if he should just put those on her instead. I told him those do not match her outfit and reminded him (not so nicely unfortunately) that WE are the adults, and bigger than her, so we will put whatever shoes on her that we want. Then the baby pooped through her outfit just as we arrived. Of course. Before we knew it, Mallorie was saying “One, two, three, CHEESE!” and we were capturing a smiling picture that was (thankfully) not at all reflective of the before or after of that moment. Beautiful pictures that I’m so excited and thankful to have of our family! 

This is the reason why you need people that you can be real with about your marriage and family struggles. We all see these pretty pictures on social media and we can’t help but compare our real life to a perfectly curated glimpse of their life. And we think we’re lacking. It's because “we’re comparing our behind the scenes to everyone else’s highlight reel” as Steven Furtick so eloquently explains. 

We see a friend posting a picture of her and her husband all dressed up for a nice steak dinner celebrating their 10th anniversary. We wish we could have a marriage as great as theirs, but we fail to see that they just had the biggest fight of their life the night before. We see a picture of a beautiful one month old baby with the mom smiling lovingly at her. But we fail to see the deep post-partum depression she is struggling with. We see a guy posting about his new promotion and we wistfully look at pictures of the huge new house they bought, but we don’t see their pain that years of struggling with infertility can bring. Or we see a family at church with tons of kids who all look completely put together and happy, while we are struggling with just two kids, one crying, desperately needing a nap, and the other one throwing both of her shoes off and running the opposite direction  (yep, that last one is completely hypothetical, ha).

I’m not saying it’s bad to post beautiful pictures on Facebook. I love capturing photos of my family so I can cherish those memories of how they looked in that moment of time. I love being able to easily share it with our extended family that live all over the country so they can feel involved in our lives. I love celebrating the wins in our marriage (yay for our 5th anniversary!) and milestones in our children’s lives. And through that all, I do try to post a balance of #reallife pictures, more for my own sake to be able to laugh at the craziness. But we also have people who we are close to that we can share our burdens, our struggles, our pain, and our tears. 

It is extremely important to have people in your life with whom you can be authentic. It’s exhausting if you are constantly trying to act like you have the perfect marriage, obedient kids, and always-clean household. Everyone has fights and struggles with their spouse, kids that don’t always listen and want to grow up too fast, and I haven’t met many people who truly have a spotless house at all times (if this is you - please come help me with my house!). 

It’s also great to have a glimpse into another couple’s reality so you see that they too have messy lives and crazy kiddos. There’s something oddly comforting when I see another mom struggle with her toddler. I know that sounds horrible, and I do feel badly for her, but it makes me feel less alone since I know how much I struggle with my kids. It's the same with marriages. When I get to know couples that have made it to the 30+ year mark, they often reveal some pretty dark times in their marriage. Yet they fought to preserve their marriage and they made it through to the other side, not only surviving but thriving more than before. This is incredibly encouraging to me!

This week for Marriage Monday, take a moment to reflect on this with your spouse. Who, if anyone, in your life do you have this type of authentic relationship? Who knows the real you? Who can you and your spouse call up when you are trying to work through an issue and hit an impasse? Who do you text for prayer when you both are struggling? Do you perhaps have an older couple that has been married longer than you that you can ask for wisdom, direction, and encouragement? If the answer is no one, use this time to talk with your spouse about how you can pursue a more authentic relationship with a specific couple. You never know, they could be desperately hoping for this as well! 

For group discussion, what are your tips for others to begin to pursue this type of authentic relationship with others?

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