Not long ago, I discovered that social media prenups were a thing. In the past, I’ve written about my disdain for prenuptial agreements and while I can’t say I agree with the idea of a social media prenup, I do understand why it’s up for discussion.
Countless relationships have gone awry as the result of a social media fail. Couples take their drama to the Internet rather than dealing with it in the privacy of their home: oversharers, humble-braggers, and the looming question of “how much is too much?” in juxtaposition to virtual PDA and selfies. How often have you seen a friend and his or her spouse have it out via Facebook — #whydidIgetmarried?
But what happens when it’s your job to write about your relationship? When your main tool for spreading your work is social media?
For over a year, I was a regular contributor for the Love and Relationships channel here at Babble. As I wrote columns about my marriage that were spread across the Internet, I struggled with creating personal boundaries for myself — trying to navigate a world that was all so new to me. At times I didn’t want to write about my marriage anymore, I just wanted to be married.
As wonderful as marriage is, it’s also hard work. It’s filled with peaks and valleys, but I never have to travel them alone. And whilst embarking on those travels, despite living in those moments, there was often a faint voice in the back of my head whispering, “maybe you should blog about this.”
My husband was always supportive, although seeing his face all over the Internet in conjunction with posts about the kind of spouse he was became a little awkward at times, particularly when his coworkers were calling him out on it.
I’m grateful for his support, for standing by me as I continue to tread the waters of a career that sometimes feels like happenstance. He didn’t have the slightest idea that I would be writing about our relationship when he said “I do.” Neither did I.
Social media is as ugly as it is beautiful. It has the power to provide us with knowledge, build camaraderie, and allow us to feel close to people despite having never met them or having miles in between them and us.
For some of us, it’s like a cape – we become brave and witty while using 140 characters or less. We find ourselves sharing more of who we are on a computer screen than we do in real life. But with as much building and uplifting that arises from social media, there is also a lot of division, and the building of barriers rather than breaking them. Words can be used as daggers and in a world where heroes and virtual “activists” exist, so do bullies and wounded individuals.
When we were dating, my husband and I shared our stance on finances and childrearing but never thought to talk about our social media values. And four years after our wedding, when I started writing about us, I couldn’t imagine if my husband had come to me and told me to stop. It was my writing that enabled me to work from home. Publicly sharing pieces of our story allowed me to have the very things my heart desired — time with him and our daughters.
Instead he took to reading my words. Occasionally looking somewhat embarrassed but sometimes sharing my words via social media too. Every so often he would say something about seeing his photo someplace, which prompted me to try and avoid using it as much (that way his friends in IT wouldn’t come telling him he’s on the Internet).
But he never asked me to stop writing; he encouraged me to keep writing. And in those times when I would want to write about something in particular and asked for his feedback, he encouraged me to do what I thought was best. He trusted me.
As it would turn out, my career in writing gave me more than I would imagine. Not only did it allow me to work from home and have more time with my (then) new baby, daughter, and husband but it also helped me find the courage to give a voice to what was on my heart, with regards to our relationship, whether I blogged about it or not.
Making the decision to write about love, my own love included, on a very public platform like the Internet has ultimately strengthened my marriage – both through the process of hashing out my feelings in order to share them or simply considering how my husband might feel about my writing. It’s opened up a dialogue between my husband and me, and even more so, it’s opened up an inner dialogue allowing me to see things from a different perspective than I had before. My level of self-awareness has increased as has my ability to hold myself accountable. It’s been both humbling and liberating.
That’s why I’m against prenuptial agreements, social media or otherwise. At the end of the day, no legal document is a substitute for trust, for knowing that the person you are marrying has your best interest at heart in all things. Knowing that they will handle you with care both in real life and online, and not because they fear legal ramifications.
But with that goes the realization that people are perfectly imperfect. That words, whether said or written, cannot be taken back. Taking this into consideration might urge one to ultimately post with caution and try and consider how your significant other might feel as they read your words. Allow your words to be a vehicle for growth rather than a tool for destruction.
If you marry someone who truly cherishes you, as they vowed to do when saying “I do,” their desire will be to build you up. And in the event that they slip and let out an angry tweet or Facebook post it’s likely that, because they cherish you, they will seek to make it right.
I am grateful that my husband has been supportive of my writing career. I am thankful that he trusts me to use my words for the good of our family and those that I hope are helped by them. And I am thankful for the compassion he shows me, knowing that each and every day I strive to be the best wife and mother I can be. He understands that some days I may fall short but what is most important is that I continue to show up and give it all I’ve got. A part of that involves me making a conscious effort to consider his feelings in all things both online and in the moments we share that will never be visible to others yet still lived.
The notion of this, taking into account the feelings of your spouse, is an important component of marriage. A genuine desire to honor your commitment to one another in words and in actions because love is enough.