Do you look at your coupled friends on social media and wonder about their relationship? Of course people only see what they want you to see on online, so the updates you are likely to see most are vacation pics, date-night excursions, or perhaps the concert selfie. You know, the good stuff. Sometimes we may even compare our relationship to our online friends. I tend to look at those happy couple moments and roll my eyes. I'm like Fox Mulder, I want to believe, I just have my doubts.
There are a few puzzling Facebook couple behaviors that are hard for me to understand. One is the dual Facebook account complete with the smiling couple profile picture and the account name that fuses the two peoples' names together. This smells of lack of trust. Another one is when people continually provide updates about their children, but seldom, if ever, mention their spouse. Strange. It's as if they are planning ahead for divorce or they're ashamed they are married. Then there are those who like to "shout from the mountaintops" about their deep love for their partner, but when those only occur on anniversaries or birthdays, they seem obligatory. Sometimes online, we actually know that what we see is not what we get because we have the inside scoop. "Love Hypocrisy" is alive and well on social media. Are there any gold standard couples on your FB feed?
I try to limit my Facebook friends to people I actually know. I'm not a "friend collector" and I regularly cleanse my feed of people that seem mad at the world or play the victim. My Facebook feed is very pleasant. There is only one guy who is a FB friend of mine whom I have never met. He is a sports writer for my favorite baseball team, and he usually links his articles to his FB account. It's an easy way for me to keep up with the latest team news and happenings. A few years back, I noticed he got married. It wasn't too much later that the happy married life updates began appearing on my news feed. Good for him, I thought, but I was curious about the real life of Evan and Gina. Was all this for real? So, I asked him to lunch to see if he would tell me his love story. Graciously, he accepted and we met over barbecue and fried chicken. When we were finished several hours later, he had sold me.
Evan and Gina had a true Facebook romance. Evan was in his late forties and had never been married. Gina, divorced with two kids, had no interest in starting a relationship. So here we have a guy who's been single his entire life and single mother of two starting down her path at her second chance on life and love. Seemed like a long shot. They had met before, in middle school. I'm not sure that counts, but at least it was a foot in the door for Evan. All that said, a friendship slowly grew. Isn't that the best place to start?
If there is a blueprint for online love, perhaps Evan found a useful tool; letter writing via email. Listen, most of us know that the best romances start out on the friendship level. It's easier to fall in love than to actually like one another. "Falling in like" is rare. So Evan wooed her the old fashioned way, by courting her with his words and laying the groundwork for a friendship. But Evan is a guy, and like so many of us, it's sometimes easier for us to write down how we feel rather than coming up with the right way to say things out loud. Like Jim Croce said, "Every time I tried to tell you, The words just came out wrong, So I'll have to say I love you in a song." Truer words have never been written; and it worked. Evan and Gina fell in love and were married.
Flash ahead a few years. This is where I was sure Evan would tell me that things were going "okay". Real life would have surely set in and taken over, replacing the fun of dating with why didn't someone unload the dishwasher? But not so much. Evan looked me in the eye and seemed happy, really happy. What was the secret? He hit on a few key things:
- Don't sweat the small stuff. At the end of the day, the little things may bug you, but they are not worth the effort of a conversation. Don't turn little things into big things. (My wife never screws tops back on anything. Laundry soap, seasoning, peanut butter...nothing. She just sets the screw cap on the top of the container and walks away. Used to drive me nuts.)
- Take joy in the little things. It's not lost on him that he is a really lucky guy.Trips and fancy dinners out are nice, but they don't happen frequently enough to keep anyone happy every day. Crawling into bed at night and fitting in the curves and bends of your lover's body is worth more than just about anything.
- Communicate. This is often the hardest thing to do, but it shouldn't be. Evan is an only child and married for the first time in his late 40's. He is feels more comfortable expressing himself on paper than out loud. How is he able to keep the lines of communication open? Well, he just wants to. He told me that with good communication, nothing lingers. Poor communication creates scar tissue. You need to talk things out so there is blood flow to the relationship.
- Grow. Evan wants to be a better person for his wife. There is nothing more selfless than that. Honestly. He wants to be a better person in the lives of his stepkids; he's crazy about them. Something he said he wasn't fully prepared for, but sharing their lives met and exceeded his expectations on every level. He's proud of them.
Whether you're from Mars or Venus shouldn't matter here. The secret is the same for all of us. Relationships aren't "work". I hate that phrase. If you're working too hard on your relationship, you may be with the wrong person. The real phrasing is that real love means growing and evolving and being open to that transformation together as a couple.
I'm sure there are plenty of other happy couples sharing their lives on Facebook for me to see. And, I don't want to slight them. But this one had me very curious for some reason. I think because I wanted their relationship to be solid so I had to find out for myself. I doubted it was legit, but I was hoping it was. Remember, "I want to believe".
Here's to Evan and Gina. May they grow old and happy together. You have to hand it to this baseball writer. In matters of love, he may have knocked this one out of the park. (Evan, sorry for the cheesy baseball reference. I could not resist.)
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