They say, “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover,” and yet we do. A lot.
We guide ourselves by the appearance of what we see, failing to consider the truth of what is hidden.
As human beings, we use defense mechanisms to protect us from showing our vulnerabilities. We wear masks that allow us to partially hide behind them and portray strength to ensure survival. At times, our realities are so painful that it is safest to conceal it behind a deceiving made-up face: the Face-book.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Facebook… and Instagram! When my kids are teens, I may even get into Snapchat.
Social media has allowed me to feel close to my loved ones who live far away and connect with old friends. It has been an amazing tool to find resources and obtain information.
From a business standpoint, social media has represented a powerful form of marketing and a way of spreading my message.
At some point in my life, Facebook was also my therapist…
It would listen to me without interruptions and then reply with inspiring advice in the form of comments and likes.
Facebook was my connection to my beloved daughter in Heaven. It was as if she could get my notifications and messages, and I received hers through the peace that God granted my heart through writing. Facebook is the bomb!
But beware… You don’t want the bomb to explode on you!
In the past decade, I have witnessed the alarming impact that social media has had on the people I serve.
Facebook has gone from being a book of faces to being the face of our book of life. We look in the mirror of social media to determine how we look, where we are in our lives, and even how we feel. It has become our point of reference.
We evaluate the “face” we see and define ourselves, our success, and our relationships based on it.
My heart cringes every time I hear my couples say:
He’s not serious about us because he hasn’t changed his profile to “In a Relationship.”
She’s ashamed of me or has something to hide because she never posts our pictures.
If he was proud of me and loved me enough, he would want to publish those beautiful messages that my friends’ husbands post.
She’s constantly arguing about our financial struggles because she sees everyone else on social media traveling and buying new cars, so I must be the only loser in her eyes.
There must be something wrong with us because I don’t feel as happy and fulfilled in my marriage as my friends look on Facebook.
I could go on and on…
We choose what we post
Facebook (and other social media platforms) is not a reliable frame of reference when it comes to defining ourselves. Our human need to feel safe will almost always prompt us to hide our vulnerabilities and painful truths.
I am yet to hear about a wife posting that her marriage is falling apart or a husband doing a live video in tears because his wife was unfaithful.
Instead, these two publish a beautiful picture of them with a loving message that reads, “I chose you 10 years ago and I choose you again. I love you.”
Then, of course, they tag each other…
Secretly, yet publicly, they’re communicating hope to each other, but the rest of us don’t have the inside information to think anything else but, “Awe, what cute love birds! I wish we were more like them.”
Do you really?
Not all that glitters is gold
Just last week, one of my clients, in tears, shared that everyone thought her and her husband were fulfilled and happy. They have all the money in the world, the best cars, a gorgeous mansion, two beautiful children, and intact health.
All this is inevitably portrayed in her social media platform.
What she won’t share outside of therapy is that her hubby gets home at 3am every day, is completely uninvolved with her and the kiddos, and has been emotionally abusive.
As she sat across from me in session, she described her anguish with such intensity, that I couldn’t help but feel her pain myself. I had to hold back my tears…
I don’t get the same emotional reaction when I sit in front of her Facebook profile.
The point is that social media was not designed to share the “dirty laundry” that should be aired at home. Marital conflict is too sensitive a topic to be shared publicly. Finances and other life challenges fall in the same category.
It’s not that people post lies about their relationships and lives, it’s that they don’t (and shouldn’t) publish all their truths. Hence, the true “Face” is hiding behind reasonable #filters.
Why then, do we insist on comparing our natural beauty to a disguised one?
We all have features that make us stand out.
We also have flaws that make us vulnerable. The combination of both creates the unique and imperfectly perfect beings God made us to be. The same applies for our relationships. Don’t compare oranges to apples because there is no other couple like you…
Maybe she doesn’t post pictures and long messages about you, but she’s the most loyal and proud wife, and you’re failing to see it because you’re too busy looking at the wrong “face”. Perhaps he’s not as financially successful as your friend’s partner, but gosh is he an amazing dad and loving husband!
Think about it. You may be richer than them after all.
You can be your own version of a “Facebook couple”: the true-face-of-the-book kind. These are the relationships that others look up to, even when they know the real truths.
Become one by:
1. Giving yourselves positive affirmations
Using your own posts as positive affirmations that give you the strength to be the partner you want to become.
You don’t have to think, feel, or believe what you tell yourself. You just do it; and the faith, thought, and feeling will soon follow. Start now: “I am the luckiest wife on Earth and I live to make this man happy.”
2. Looking for inspiration
Getting inspired by others’ posts and use their ideas to better your relationship. Forget about what you want your spouse to do for you and focus on what you can do for him/her.
True love is selfless and unconditional.
3. Asking for help
Seeking advice from those on Facebook you feel got it down packed and would look out for your wellbeing and that of your marriage.
Sometimes these are not friends or family members, but rather a coach/therapist, spiritual director, or the wise person that God put in your path.
4. Taking a social media break
Taking a break from social media when you feel it’s having a negative influence on you (or your relationship). You know that’s the case when you spend time dwelling on what others have that you don’t, and you let it further damage your feelings and interactions.
If your relationship is toxic or dysfunctional, you won’t need social media to help you figure it out.
5. Being better NOW.
If you are unsatisfied with your relationship, change it. Assume responsibility for where you’re at with your spouse. If you have something to do with why you’re not happy in your marriage, then you have the power to change it.
Humbly acknowledge your flaws.
• Do what you don’t feel like doing.
• Give him/her what he/she doesn’t deserve.
• Have unwavering faith in your relationship.
• Take initiative… NOW!
• Become the couple whose profile you so admire…
But do so in a true-face-of-the-book kind of way!