I was scrolling through my Facebook feed the other day when I came across a particularly annoying post. A friend from college posted, and I paraphrase, “Why post about how lazy your husband is? If he was such a jerk, why did you marry him?”
She didn’t direct this at anyone in particular, so I can only assume she is friends with a lot of husband-bashers. Her post in no way offended me directly—I don’t bash my husband on any social media outlets. The most I post on Facebook is the random picture of my children in assorted costumes, funny Scary Mommy articles, or at the request (or direct order) of whatever company I’m trying to get a free sample or enter-to-win opportunity from. But even though her post had nothing to do with me, it rubbed me the wrong way for a variety of reasons.
First, it seemed like a thinly veiled attempt to brag on her own marriage. Okay, okay, we get it. Your marriage is perfect. In fact, meet us all down on Main Street at noon, as we are throwing a parade in honor of your glorious union. Sorry, but I live in a large, beautiful glass house, and I try to make a point not to throw stones at the troubles in my friends’ marriages. Nor am I opposed to hearing the wonderful stories about relationships. I’m the first one to hit the thumbs-up when friends post date-night selfies or pictures of the lovely meal their spouse just prepared unprompted. But her post just had that holier-than-thou feeling that makes even the best of us bristle. Few of us would admit to marrying lazy jerks (at least, not on purpose). We married the wonderful men we love. But that doesn’t mean one is never without complaint and venting on Facebook might be their only outlet. Alternately, if my husband was on Facebook, I’m sure he’d keep his legion of friends entertained with stories of my own shortcomings. Every marriage has its ups and downs.
Second, most people tell these types of stories to be funny. I retell stories based on real life, but I try to choose the ones that are entertaining. This typically means that something has to happen out of the ordinary to make the cut. When my husband is involved, this usually goes one of two ways—either a situation that calls for a really sweet, husband-gushing story (like the time he washed every single piece of clothing/textile/fabric in the house to help me at a time when I was extremely stressed), or of the honest and slightly bashing-variety (like the end of that same story when he decided he was done helping after washing the clothes and left them in a monster-sized pile on the bedroom floor). With my particular husband, the latter tends to be funnier than the former. So although I try never to paint a lopsided picture, I will sometimes share these stories as it serves as a humorous outlet and allows me (and others) to gain a little perspective. In the course of a marriage, is a monster-pile of laundry really that big of a deal? I think not.
Third, some people just need to vent. This process is so named because keeping things bottled inside without ventilation might cause you to explode. Sometimes putting words to your frustration releases some of the steam on a situation. Examine the source. If your friend is always bashing her husband, or never has any good things to say about her marriage, maybe she is really going through a tough time. A good friend might offer help, or at least a supportive shoulder, before shaming her before countless Facebook connections. And if she isn’t really a friend, but just one of those people you clicked through because you like surrounding yourself with a village of Facebook followers—perhaps you don’t really care about her marriage. If her bashing is causing you discomfort, I suggest you hit “unfollow.” Win-win. She continues her tirade in peace, and you continue entering contests and looking at pictures of your friends’ kids without disruption.
Her post reminded me of a few things. To me, what it seems to come down to is this:
1. Marriage can change people.
Don’t kick yourself (or others) if you didn’t see the signs—some husbands (and wives) start acting brand new after they say I do. Or maybe you were just blinded by love. Either way, if telling your friends about the time your husband drank the milk directly out of the jug is keeping you from divorce, then tell away.
2. Some people hide in their humor.
If you think your friend is telling a story just to get a few laughs, or vent—why not let her? But if you sincerely think she might need help, consider ways that are appropriate to lend a hand.
3. Most importantly, stop airing your dirty laundry on Facebook!
Because no matter how well-intentioned you might be, someone like my dear “friend” is going to make you feel like a jackass for sharing.