The Killer of Relationships

How is social media influencing the joy you have in your marriage? We no longer set expectations concerning marriage based on marriages we see in our church, in our homes and in our communities. We are setting our expectations based on what we see in social media. The problem is, social media does not reflect reality. I want to share two resources on this subject. One is short (3 1/2 minutes) and is an excellent summary of how social media has become the greatest challenge to a joyful marriage. The second is a podcast from NPR’s Hidden Brain. Both are secular resources but both are spot on accurate and should be considered as we search for joy and meaning in our marriages.

The first video is from Steve Bartlett, a young entrepreneur who provides some fairly sound advice concerning relationships from the few videos I have watched (This is not a blanket endorsement). Watch the video and then come back for another resource.

A second resource is a podcast from NPR called Hidden Brain.  Yes I listen to NPR.  No, that is not grounds for excommunication.  This seven minute podcast provides additional perspective concerning how social media creates an environment where we are always comparing our lives to others.  With the average person spending 4 hours a day on social media, that is a lot of comparison.  Click here for this podcast and come back when you have finished listening.

One of the things that interested me the most was the fact that Rachel Leonard knew that what she was watching on Facebook concerning her friends was not reality.  People understand they are watching a “curated” version of someone else’s life.  However, exposure still resulted in dissatisfaction, disappointment, depression and difficulty in relationships.

Stop Comparing

I used to compare everyone else’s relationship to the relationship Patty and I have.  While we don’t have a perfect relationship, over the years God has provided us with a sense of purpose, common values, passion, fun and adventure.  My thinking was that if you had a healthy relationship it must look like ours.  NOPE.  Mature marriages have some commonalities,  but how they present is very different.  The reality is you have to create your own real, vibrant, passionate and purposeful relationship and it will not look exactly like any other relationship you see elsewhere, especially on social media…and that is OK.

A 30 Year Marriage Takes 30 Years

If you are expecting to have a 30 year marriage in the first 10 years of marriage, you will be disappointed.  It literally took decades before Patty and I learned to communicate effectively, find a common purpose, and grow into a mature couple.  Of course, I am a little slow so some of you  may be able to get to a mature relationship sooner.  But no matter what, it takes time to get to a mature place in your marriage.  However, I will share a secret; Work on the horizontal relationship between you and God, and the lateral relationship between you and your spouse will mature exponentially faster.

Never Give Up

Finally, if your going to give up on something, give up social media.  Never give up on your marriage.  It may take time, coaching, counseling, or just simple hard-headedness.   Simply commit to never giving up on the covenant relationship you have entered into.   Recommit to loving your spouse with the same ferocity that you love your children (or will love them).  We love our children regardless of how they act; regardless of what they say; and regardless of their attitude; and we do so despite not being in a covenant relationship with them.  In most cases, there is a sweet relationship on the other end of the challenges you may face today.  Stick with it, trust that God is at work in your marriage, and love with his love as your source.