On social media and anniversaries...

I scour my phone for an image… one in which I look pretty and we look happy. That, ostensibly, is more difficult than it sounds, despite the limited criteria. My clothes, as of late, tend to be of the yoga pants variety and my hair? Typically, a sweaty braid or the ubiquitous top knot. We go on dates, sometimes monthly; which really means we go to a restaurant with our 11-month-old daughter while my parents keep our boys. I don’t think to get a picture with my husband. If we have a date night, and I don’t post it on Instagram, did it happen?

It never fails that our anniversary falls during a hard season of marriage. Maybe, just maybe, that’s because marriage is one continual hard season. It ebbs and flows, as things do. It’s doing dishes and changing diapers between passive aggressive comments and tear-inducing laughter. This is what building a life is. Yet, I can’t help but think it should be more…

It’s that time once a year… when I pick the picture (usually one from my wedding since it fits the necessary criteria: I like how I look and my husband is in it… never mind that it’s several years old) and stare at the blinking cursor on Facebook. What do I write? I’m supposed to acknowledge this day with gushing platitudes for all to see. It’s true, I love him and he’s my best friend. I could write that. It’s true we have three children together and our shared love of Jesus. Are those things enough?
I see what everyone else posts… about traveling and laughter, about all of the Big Events, documenting their past year, hitting the highlights.

I think back over my past year… we had a baby. We fought a lot. We laughed a lot. There was so much laundry and so many loads of dishes. My boys are incredibly disrespectful and we often disagree on how to address that. We have slung insults like mud and held each other when the pain couldn’t be expressed in mere words. My husband has wiped hot tears from my cheeks and ushered me out the door when I needed to not be needed one more second. We’ve commiserated over politics and ate too much and not exercised enough. We’ve raised our voices and winked over our children’s heads. He’s eaten my experimental dinners and I’ve stolen his French fries.
Is this what building a home is? Building a life? A thousand small moments that seem meaningless that add up to make a family, a sacred safe space?

Should we have vacationed more so I could share a picture of us on some mountain or a beach? Should I plan my years with the Facebook anniversary post in mind? If I could just remember to document a SINGLE date night.

My husband isn’t even on social media, so who is this for? Who do I need to convince that my marriage is amazing?

The biggest revelation from this past year is that my husband and I are so different, and I continue to realize that regularly. So different in every way possible, yet so similar in all the ways that will outlast our physical prowess.

So, to my social media followers: my marriage is one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. But it is supposed to be difficult. We are not the same. I love to be outdoors and he wants to veg and watch a movie. I forget to take pictures of the two of us, but it doesn’t mean I don’t love him and it doesn’t mean I don’t love our relationship. We love Jesus, but not always in the same way at the same time. When he is feeling stagnant spiritually, I hit my knees to pray. When the Lord seems distant, my husband ministers to me. We see needs and meet them, neither of us relegated to certain household duties or expected roles. I have taken out the trash filled with diapers he’s changed. Anniversaries are supposed to remind us to return, I think. A sort of communion, a sacrament. Remember what has been done.  Remember where you have been. If expensive vacations and sparkling new homes held a marriage together, no celebrity would divorce. It is here, in the day to day of life and hard decisions and miscarriages and arguments and inside jokes and dirty floors, that we build a home and sustain a marriage.

I close the browser, assuring Facebook that I do, in fact, want to leave the page despite being in the middle of a status update. I don’t need to reassure myself my marriage is solid by reassuring anyone else. It is solid because we both come home every day and come to bed every night. I may not have any pictures or words to document it, but it is our safe space, the home we have built, this marriage. It will be our safe space when our children have moved out and it will be our safe space when our bodies begin to fail us. This marriage will be our home, the home we have built, whether I take the picture or share the post or not.


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