Recently, I landed on a newbie blog, and was surprised by how much its author revealed. She wrote of her husband's drinking and her feud with one of his ex-girlfriends. I'd seen new bloggers fall into this trap before: Developing a familiarity with their readers who didn't have a sense of them yet. And it got me thinking. Often I write about my husband—we've been married nine years—and to hit on real truths, I've shared some of our struggles. He's a great guy, committed and unflappably honest. But does my blog reflect that? Marriage Complaints: Take this Challenge
I recently chatted with Sue O'Lear about her blog, Mrs. Fatass. She'd begun her blog as a weight loss diary, but it soon evolved to include her life as a yankee transplanted to the South. "I was lonely when we moved," she said. "I didn’t know a soul. My husband was very supportive of the virtual connections I made through blogging."
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And they'd had an unspoken agreement that she wouldn’t use her blog as a platform for portraying him as a villain. Rather she'd made him a likeable character, one her readers identified with—and felt invested in. The Marriage Secret No One Ever Tells You
Her blog, she thinks, benefits their marriage. "He can read my thoughts about certain things and take time to understand a point of view without us being in the heat of the moment," she said.
It wasn't until she started blogging about her struggles with Social Anxiety Disorder that he worried about what she shares publicly. "But he sees a lot of people reaching out saying, 'That happens in my house!' and knows people are learning from it," she said. "He's willing to be embarrassed once in awhile if it's for a greater good."
But then she posted about a touchy conversation they'd had, and he was apprehensive. "It didn’t necessarily make him look great," she said. "But he never told me not to hit publish."
In it, she talks about how he had revealed to her that he struggled with her anxiety diagnosis. "Anxiety is something everybody has," she said. "So why does mine get the special attention?" But she felt its theme was relatable. "I think that conflict is common for any couple where one spouse has a diagnosis." He relaxed after reviewing her readers' comments.
So is it possible to take your blog to the next level, without opening yourself up and leaving your loved ones exposed?
I talked to Julie Spira, author of The Rules of Netiquette: How to Mind Your Manners on the Web, who advised me on the matter. "Sometimes blogging can be cathartic for yourself personally," she said. "And, at the same time, can give you the opportunity to share personal experiences from an authentic standpoint to help others in their relationships." She is in favor of it, "as long as there are boundaries." Julie Spira
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