Thoughts on Relationships & Social Media

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When I allow myself a few minutes of aimless searching, I read or skim articles that pop up on my FB feed. The passage below is my comment to an article “5 Reasons Why We Can’t Handle Marriages Anymore”; but the content is more a counterargument to the multitude of ire-laden comments I read after finishing the article. I felt incensed at the blatant judgment dripping off the page. Why do so many of us insist on equating our own experiences with others? In other words, what makes a person so incredibly self-centered and unaware they cannot step outside of everything they know and even entertain the notion this other person has a completely different reality? In this case, just because one or many couples have successfully worked at their marriages for decades does not mean every other person on this planet can follow the same recipe for an overworked but well-baked relationship.

I am certain I will never understand how others reach the point of such self-righteousness (or perhaps insecurity) they decide to belittle another, so sure they must publicize the “other” as wrong. Maybe some would say my mind is too open. I find it’s not as open as I would like but it seems it is far more so than many I encounter. With all of that divulged, please read on for my response. You’ll see the link to the article below.
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First, I’d like to say I wish more people would spend time engaging the concepts the author put forth rather than attacking or judging him. Second, I think there are two threads here affected by advances in technology: (1) Dating and (2) Marriage.

Dating nowadays is supremely difficult –  a topic on which those in blessed marriages cannot comment. While I am not attached to my phone, I see too many couples on dates in fancy restaurants, all of them glued to their phones rather than focused on the moment and experience at hand. Scenes such as this are heartbreaking for me (truly – no hyperbole here). I hope we don’t completely lose personal intimacy – both in romance and friendship. The way I see it, social media helps us share (EVERYTHING; and too often), but not truly communicate what matters. And so, many of the “worlds” these young millennials* create for themselves focus on posturing public profiles rather than connecting with others.

(*Yes, I realize many who know me marginally will comment I too am technically part of this crowd. However, I am certain those who know me quite well would agree my “old soul” actually aligns more closely to the preceding Generation X or an amalgamation of the two.)

Moving on…

The other thread here is about marriage. For the record, I did not interpret the article as “These 5 Things Ruined My Marriage (and will ruin yours too)”. Anyone who stops at that doesn’t appreciate the finer points of writing. These are aspects of marriage he didn’t know before and he’s trying to forewarn others so they can be better prepared and avoid a dissolving relationship and divorce. Not all of of the points will be an issue for every couple. Some manage finances extremely well, others maintain a healthy sex life – both of which rely heavily on open communication away from social media.

And now the battle of the generations. Each “generation” has its own obstacles. I applaud any couple who has stood the test of time, the ups and downs. (Even the most loving of twosomes would not shy away from admitting they saw tough times.) I’m especially in awe of my parents, who have been married over 40 years and survived a military life together.

In the most recent decades, many are claiming a rise in divorce rates (I’m not a statistician and won’t pretend to be.) Baby Boomers (and others) blame the change in moral focus – the lack of commitment when it entails hard work, less emphasis on family values, more on “me and mine”. In a nutshell, “The young ‘uns are selfish, self-centered heathens not putting in honest to god, back-breaking days to fit that elephant of a marriage into that there tin can.” [spit] (I realize all relationships need some dedicated TLC, but must we liken it so closely to…coal mining??)

I won’t spend time castigating these remarks, after all my whole message revolves around not crucifying others for opinions. I will say the exponential advancement of technology coupled with blossoming love will remain a challenge unknown to married or committed Generation X and Baby Boomers. I find it hard to compete with a shiny object buzzing every five to ten minutes. In this age of tech, everything is urgent, every text must be read and answered immediately, every email could be the end of the world. Looking back, the thirtysomethings could not have prepared for the onslaught of bells, buzzers, and jingles; the twentysomethings barely know what it was like to rely on a basic flip phone; and, sadly, teenagers seem to have been born with smartphones and apps baked into their skin. My point? It takes awareness and DESIRE to unplug, to realize the joy of human interaction, a walk hand in hand through the forest – most of which will be difficult to do. And for many, it’ll be like cutting off a limb.

All of these points aren’t excuses, rather they are the inherent truth of today. And believe as you will, it is a major hindrance to the success of marriage.

So, in response to the commentators here, who are you to judge another for choosing divorce? What if they DID find it to be a miserable life? Are YOU that selfish (or malicious) you would prefer another human being to suffer rather than take the path of happiness? Does it hurt you beyond offense that so many are getting married and “bailing at the first sign of struggle”? I would bet (and hope) there are only a few people who get married and say, “I’ll stick with it at least X years, then I’m walking.” No. The majority take a leap and hope for the best. A few years down the road, a couple may find they are lost, they’ve changed drastically, they don’t recognize their spouse, they awaken and see their paths have diverged. Couples either try to rediscover each other again and develop a new and stronger relationship or they see there’s nothing to hold onto. And they make the difficult yet right choice to move on.

(Food for thought – would divorces a few decades back not have been kept quiet, since it was even more harshly viewed? Moreover, would spouses not even consider divorce since “it just wasn’t done” and they probably had no way of supporting themselves without a husband?)

In my brief yet enlightening time in this life, I have learned everyone’s happiness develops and evolves uniquely. And each of us is attuned to our own particular set of limits or boundaries. What one person can withstand, another can’t. What you consider “all in a day’s work” may truly torture someone else. Does that make one person better than the other?

Personally, I believe the most important aspect of love isn’t marriage. It’s honesty. To others and to yourself. Marriage is a piece of paper. Sure, at one point it was glued to the church and viewed as sacred. (No offense – it’s still sacred in and of itself or as a religious union for many). But, I’d like to point out marriage has been bastardized from its original intent – a contract between nations or duchies or fiefdoms. We’ve manipulated it over the centuries, hoping to squeeze love in there somewhere, somehow. So, perhaps the concept of marriage has reached a point of a paradigm shift, a revolution, during an age when everything moves too quickly.

As for relationships and social media, I will say the most heartfelt act anyone (but I’m directing this at thirtysomethings and younger) could do would be to put the phone (and all other electronics) in a drawer and have an in-person, face to face, cheek to cheek conversation with someone. LIVE in the moment rather than letting it pass by. Listen. Speak. Engage. Forget the thoughts and opinions of the world around you. Forget the strangers you believe are so integral to your self worth and find out what dreams your BELOVED has today. Those close to your heart matter and these are the people who deserve our attention – friends, lovers, sisters, mothers – not the sleek facade of a device and what it transmits to you.

I am proud the author had the courage to write this article. More of the dating crowd and young married couples should be made aware of the modern detriments to true connections – these are real obstacles in the way expressing the love of others and the love of the self (self care is NOT selfish; it’s healthy). Otherwise, they could be in danger of never knowing the stirring feeling of deep human (not AI) connection.

http://www.app.com/story/life/family/relationships/2015/04/06/reasons-marriage-just-work-anymore/25349495/