No One's Love Is Instagram-Worthy All of the Time
With some sweatpant-material shorts I wore yesterday and my hair in a greasy ponytail, I plop some sauerkraut and hot dogs into a crock pot. When my husband gets home from work, we'll probably sit in silence eating our meal that is embarrassing to admit to let alone photograph for social media as I'm a terrible cook (I know right now the mashed potatoes are going to be lumpy and the hot dogs will probably be under or overcooked). We'll sit and play on our phones, read, play video games, and get through another Monday in mundane adult life.
In truth, it's a far cry from the swoonworthy couples all over Instagram or the #forever pictures we see on our social media platforms. And, in truth, if I thought too much about it, I might be pretty down in the dumps about the fact that our relationship's Instagram-worthy moments are few and far between....and even the ones worthy of Instagram probably aren't getting any awards anytime soon.
I'm a romance author who is married to the boy she met at 12 at the art table. We've been together ever since, and we've now been married almost 7 years. We are the typical opposites-attract couple, and he is my everything. Our simple life is truly more than I could've asked for.
Still, in comparison to social media couples, our love seems lackluster, dull, or even non-existent. Romantic getaways are few and far between, and most nights, romance is defined by a quick kiss goodnight or an "I love you" in between feeding the dog and doing dishes.
Here's the thing, though: I truly believe that no one's love is Instagram-worthy all of the time. I truly believe that all relationships, all real ones, probably have more non-Instagram-worthy moments than anything.
We all have the moments cuddled up on the couch in clothes we wouldn't go out of the house with, too lazy to move a muscle let alone make a romantic move. We've all had those classless dinners, those moments of boredom, and even those moments of sheer rage.
My husband and I are no exception.
There are plenty of times we plan a nice date or a trip and he is a total asshole... or I, admittedly, play the asshole role. There are plenty of moments we thought would lead to this picturesque, romantic scenes that led to nothing but misery in a rain storm, long lines, and a realization that the experience we thought would be revolutionary turned out to be overrated.
We've had copious weeknights of boredom, of survival, and of just trying to get by anyway we can. Romance is out the window on these nights.
In short, our lives are far from the tropical fantasy getaways, candlelit dinners, caviar, and smiling, perfect people on social media. Our love is rarely an Instagram-worthy moment.
However, I think that's okay. I think if we are all being honest, the moments we post on Instagram or Facebook or our social media of choice are just a snapshot, a blink in the true relationship we live. In reality, no one's love is perfect. No one's life is a string of perfect snapshots.
We all have our struggles. We all have our weaknesses. We all have moments in our love stories where we feel like giving up.
So just because your love story isn't always Instagram-worthy doesn't mean it's any less real.
Love isn't perfect. Love doesn't have to be a constant photograph opportunity. This is the realization that led me to writing the books I write.... ones that showcase real love, the gritty, raw, candid kind that isn't always perfect.
Because when we start to realize that no love is perfect, we can give our own love a little slack and start appreciating it for what it is.... beautiful in its own right.
Join me in celebrating candid love. Follow me on Facebook where I talk about our "real love" moments and where every Saturday, my husband and I chat love, marriage, and adult life on our show, Chapters & Checkpoints at 7pm EST.
Prince Charming Doesn't Exist...but That's Okay
From the time you’re a little girl, the image of a fairy-tale marriage clings to your heart, paving the way for absurd expectations later in life. You read stories that talk of happily ever after and grand gestures, and suddenly, it seems like love must meet this standard.
Throughout your teen years, your college years, and beyond, there’s this magical vision of marriage. There’s this sense marriage is about princes and flowers, grand balls and candlelight promises.
Real love, the kind marriages are founded on, require glamorous people and smooth moves. Marriage requires perfect compromise and moments of romance. It’s a life of wedded bliss that begins with the first “I do,” the first bite of wedding cake, the first morning you wake up in each other’s arms. Having high expectations for marriage isn’t a bad thing.
Marriage should make you happy, should fulfill you, should help you achieve your life goals. There’s nothing wrong with holding out for your own version of a fairy-tale marriage. The problem comes, I think, when we let society dictate what a perfect marriage must be.
So many times, I hear women who are upset because their husbands don’t act like the men in the movies or in romance novels. There are no passionate kisses at 6 a.m. or bouquets of roses on a random Tuesday. There are no jets to Aruba on a whim or couture gowns to wear to a fancy club. There are no carriage rides or silver platters. Thus, we feel like our marriage is flawed. It doesn’t meet the standards we’re taught from a young age.
Marriage without this dazzling sense of romance is clearly a failure, right? The problem with the fairy-tale marriage is it lessens our appreciation for what we have. This impossible, unreasonable standard we hold our marriages to can prevent us from seeing the happiness we actually have right within our grasp.
Again, this is not to say marriage should be something you settle for. I believe every woman has the right to pursue her version of the fairy-tale marriage if she chooses. If caviar and romantic trips to Aruba and couture ballgowns make you happy, then find a marriage where this will work.
However, if you don’t necessarily want these elements in your perfect vision of marriage, then don’t feel pressured into wanting them.
At the end of the day, no marriage is flawless. The perfect marriages of television and romance novels are just images and snapshots. They do not capture the true, day-to-day living of a genuine love. Real marriages are forced to weather unromantic storms, tedious routines, and the exhaustion of adult life. Thus, sometimes a trip to a private island isn’t practical. Sometimes lighting a single candle in the bedroom is risky because of a pesky cat and the risk of a fire hazard. Sometimes a gourmet dinner on a silver platter turns into a fast food bag because there are just too many appointments and meetings this week. I
In the past six years of marriage, I’ve learned one thing for certain: There is no plot diagram, no equation, to the perfect marriage. There are so many versions of marriage, of happiness, of romance.
The key is to figure out what works for you, what fulfills you. If sweatpants and takeout bags fit into your fairy tale, own it. As I’ve said before, Prince Charming doesn’t really exist in real life…but neither does Snow White. No love is perfect because no two individuals are perfect. Each relationship will have its ups and downs, and the wedding cake never truly tastes as good a year later. The bliss from the wedding day will wear off and, when you’re left with “real” life, the kind involving bills and work and household chores, romance may change its appearance.
This does not mean the fairy tale has turned into a Brother’s Grimm sort of tale, however. It simply means your version of the fairy tale has morphed into something more appropriate for the real world.
It might be impossible to achieve the ultimate fairy tale-like marriage, at least in society’s eyes—but I think that’s okay. At the end of the day, you can still find happiness in an imperfect marriage.
You don’t have to have a knight in shining armor, a prince riding in on a white horse, or any similar image to make your marriage successful. Real marriage takes work. There is no fairy godmother to make all your wishes come true, and your prince charming may turn into a toad occasionally.
Happiness, though, is a choice in marriage.
It is a choice to say the man you married is worth your time, your effort, and your devotion.
It’s a choice to say the reality of your love together is worth more than some fantasy love society tells you to chase.
The fairy-tale marriage might not really exist—then again, it is possible to achieve a magical level of happiness in marriage if you’re willing to be imaginative and realize all is not what it seems.
Bigger Isn't Always Better When It Comes to Love
He got down on one knee at King's, our favorite restaurant at the time.
We'd gone there for late-night breakfast dates. We'd gone there after prom, on random Saturdays, on lunch dates.
And so, on a Friday, he got down on one knee in the middle of King's while we ate dinner. There was no fanfare, no clapping, no flashiness.
It was just me and the boy I met at the art table, in the middle of a sleepy restaurant, thinking about forever.
I said yes, and he slid the ring on my finger. We continued on with our date because in reality, nothing had changed. We were still the same people we were before he got on one knee. We were still the couple who argued over stupid things, who laughed at the same jokes, who could know what each other was thinking with a single look.
We were still the couple who had been through ninth grade social, two proms, graduation, first dates, first dances, and first kisses.
Yet, we were also different. Because in that moment, we realized that the boy and the girl who met at the art table