Hi there friends!
This blog appeared in the Huffington Post yesterday, and then disappeared shortly thereafter. Don’t know if I offended somebody (oops) or if the gods of the HuffPost decided that I’m not allowed to have more blogs per week than anybody else, but whatever it was, it’s an AWESOME blog and you should totally read it and share it with the people you know who NEED TO read it!
Every married couple communicates in a different way. Some talk constantly to each other, some don’t talk as much but communicate on an entirely different level. Husbands and wives yell occasionally – some more than others. Notes can be a passive-aggressive way to share reminders and feelings, both good and bad. And in the past 20 years, cell phones and email have made instant and somewhat constant communication between spouses and partners a daily fact of life. But social media has added new challenges and opened up new, very public communication channels that were never intended for use as a primary means of important conversations between spouses.
The newest generation of college grads doesn’t understand this because they grew up publicizing every first kiss and heartbreak on MySpace and Facebook. Twitter is the ultimate way to snap off a nasty one-liner. Want to make your ex feel like crap? Shoot a quick Vine of you doing something that would upset them and post it. Social media terrorism plays a ridiculously large role in the dating game nowadays and I am very, very thankful that I am already happily married and do not have to play that game. I would suck at it.
However, even though I know boundaries are different for the newer generation, I am constantly shocked by what I read online. Why, in God’s name, would either half of a married couple choose to fight with their spouse on a platform like Facebook? Don’t people realize that airing your dirty laundry that way makes it impossible to make up from a real disagreement and put it behind you? What are you going to do? Delete it and it’s gone? As though you haven’t just told all of your friends, his friends, and probably both of your families that you guys had a fight. Where is your pride? Modern pre-nups ought to include a social media clause.
There’s a specific example I’m thinking of as I write this. Not a good friend of mine by any stretch – more of a former sort-of-friend who I wouldn’t have any contact with at all anymore if we weren’t Facebook friends. She’s a young, married woman with a toddler. And she’s bored (so she claims) and therefore she posts every random thought on Facebook. Along with too many selfies (imho). She lives in a small town completely surrounded by her husband’s family, and she constantly snarks, whines and “shares” on Facebook whenever things in life don’t go her way.
I cannot imagine being married to this woman – and I’m not exactly defending her husband here – because I cannot imagine being in a relationship where every time I made my partner unhappy, he posted it on Facebook. No seriously. When he’s late coming home or blows off plans, she has a public pity party about it. When she’s lonely, she posts selfies. Big surprise – he doesn’t post much. He’s probably afraid to give her more ammo.
Even with a history of this sort of social media behavior, I was shocked to see her change her Facebook status from “Married” to “In a complicated relationship” a few months ago. Mutual friends were texting me about it even as I was popping off an email about it to another friend. What did it mean? Were they splitting? Did he cheat, again? Did she? OMG who posts that stuff on Facebook when you’re married with a kid? Grow up. But thank you for giving us all something to talk about
You know what was really, really funny? When they made up a few weeks later, she fixed her relationship status and the gods of Facebook announced they’d just gotten married! Talk about adding insult to injury. And of course, the gossip went wild again. I don’t follow her on Twitter because I couldn’t handle the drama, but I’ve heard that’s almost as interesting. I’m embarrassed to admit that I’m fascinated by her Facebook. It’s like watching the “Anna Nicole Smith Show.” You want to turn it off but you are waiting for the train wreck to happen. That’s exactly what this is like. Except she’s somebody I know and there’s a small child involved.
It’s gotten to the point where people joke about it – as in, “things must be going well for her this week because she’s not flaming him on Facebook.” And then, just when I stop keeping an eye out for bizarre posts, she really goes for the gold. Super long posting about how depressing it is to see the end of your relationship coming. Which, of course, made me click on her timeline to see what else she’s posted and there’s lots of deep thoughts and man-hating shares mixed in with pictures of her child being cute. WTF? Seriously. So are you splitting up? Just fighting? What happened? No wait. I don’t want to know. Seriously, I do not. Of course, I can’t “unfriend” her because, to that generation, the act of unfriending is tantamount to saying I hate you and we’re not friends in real life anymore. Even if we’re not really that friendly. But if her life is falling apart (as it perpetually appears to be), the last thing I want to do is click a stupid button on the Internet that would in any way hurt her feelings more than she’s already hurting. When the subject came up with another friend, she pulled up her timeline to get updated and announced there was a new posting that they were splitting. Wow. Talk about up-to-the-minute reports on the demise of a marriage.
Now that I’ve been happily married for 10 years, and since I am a very active blogger and social media participant, I feel qualified to give some advice to young couples on this matter. DON’T POST YOUR MARITAL PROBLEMS ON FACEBOOK. Unless you are actually posting the words “Signed divorce decree today,” you shouldn’t air your marital laundry on social media. And even then, announcing your divorce that way is tacky. Look, I’m not telling you that you can’t rage about your ex or trash some guy or girl who cheated on you via Twitter or whatever if that’s what makes you feel better. That’s up to you. But if you are actually married – and especially if you have children – you should not be putting this sort of damaging information out into the public realm.
There are consequences to this sort of irresponsible social media relationship ranting. First, it makes it harder to make up, if you want to try to save your marriage. Publicly humiliating each other every time you fight is not good for a marriage. Second, it can hurt you in a divorce negotiation, especially if your posts have impacted your spouse professionally in any way. And if you’re posting relationship statuses regularly, you’re headed down divorce alley whether you admit to yourself or not. If nobody else has told you, I will – that’s not normal or healthy. Third, and probably most important although most overlooked, you are creating a record of the demise of your marriage that your children may someday read. Seriously. Mommy and Daddy being divorced is hard enough on a kid. Just wait til an older cousin or eventual step-sibling shows your kid how much you hated each other when you were married. Start saving up for the counseling they’re going to need after reading all the random social media vomit you spewed about each other as if you didn’t have a child in common.
For the record, you cannot talk to anyone with bad social media habits without offending them. I know because I’ve tried, and they get really defensive really fast. I think the only thing that works is actually having them suffer the consequences of a few stupid posts, and even then, some of them will find something else to blame. Never occurs to them that perhaps if they’d kept the “personal” in their “personal lives,” they might not find themselves in such a pickle with everyone around them on a regular basis. I’m not going to say I’ve never posted anything I later regretted – we all have. But I’ve never had a fight with my husband Bill and taken it to the Internet to vent. Treating your marriage like an Internet reality show is not the way to a long healthy future together.
Until next time, happy wedding planning from Weddings in Vieques and Weddings in Culebra!