Hey Facebook: I'm Married AND It's Complicated

couple at computer
Love, Self

Does a Married relationship status give the entire picture?

Next month, I will be married for 23 years and, Facebook, I've got news: as far as status goes, Married and It's Complicated are not two separate categories. Women who have been married for more than a few years, and especially those with children, know this fundamental truth. 

Complicated is not always bad when it come to marriage and children. You may find yourself, more often than not, in a situation where you are driving all over the place because one kid's concert rehearsal starts the same moment the other kid's train arrives. Meanwhile, you are also trying to talk a client through a meltdown on the hands-free car cell phone your husband taught you (patiently, six times) to use. Unfortunately, he couldn't help with the chauffeuring because he is visiting his mother at the hospital, and even though the two of you have been sort of not speaking for the past month, you still admire how devoted he is to his family. Like I said: complicated, but still pretty good.

Then there's the more hellish sort of complicated. Like when you want a break from spending every single religious, cultural and patriotic holiday for the last 24 years with his parents (yours live across the country) and every time you bring it up, it results in a protracted argument, not about his unwillingness to consider the trip, but about your meager joint bank account and the price of airline tickets for a family of four, which leads to an even more complex discussion (shouting match) about why you earn less than half what you did before you had kids, and why his business is lagging and how the hell you are going to afford college, and let's not even talk about retirement.

That's complicated, married and miserable all rolled into one.

Hey, maybe Facebook needs sub-categories under one's relationship status. That way, those who wish to can finally be honest: Married / Just Hanging On. Married / In a Rough Patch. Married / Not Speaking. And, Married / All Good (it happens). Facebook Relationship Status: What Does "It's Complicated" Mean?

I'm not complaining.

Well, yes I am. Many days, life—and marriage—just aren't fair. Many days, raising children—and continuing to speak civilly to the person to whom you are married—isn't fun. "Married" says so little about the state of a relationship, really, or at least that's what it seems like to me. Yes, I'm married. No, that's not the whole story, or even, most of the time, the most interesting thing about the relationship... even on the good days.

But maybe I've got it backward, judging from the marriage-related posts of the 250+ of my Facebook friends whose relationship status is Married. Read those posts, and everything's just dandy. Perfect, even. No complications there.

Husbands are "wonderful," "fabulous" and "the greatest guy in the word." They remember each birthday and anniversary with "the best gift ever." They do the sweetest, most romantic things. They do the unpleasant, important, dirty jobs. They help with everything, are superior fathers and are super-duper best friends to their adoring wives.

I read these posts with a mixture of skepticism and envy. Surely, if these women are living in anything approximating a normal marriage in the U.S. in 2011, they are either lying, or simply cannot imagine, having checked off Married on that blue-and-white left-hand column, ever posting anything that indicates It's Complicated. My Facebook Breakup Was Humiliating—and Helpful

But it is.

Maybe it's naïve of me to expect other sane women—those who, unlike me, don't make a good chunk of their income writing about their personal lives—to clue in hundreds of others about what makes their married lives, at times, pretty complicated.  Or maybe it's as simple as having husbands who are also on Facebook.

My husband, for one, would rather I go with the easy, simple, uncomplicated Married / All Good stance, at least in what I write in spaces like this. As for Facebook, he has no clue, since he's uninterested in social networks. Actually, he's not much interested in social life either, which reminds me of yet another complicated part of our relationship… yikes, better stop now.

One in-real-life friend thinks my inability to post lots of he's-terrific-and-marriage-is-dandy Facebook updates means there's more going on for me than a mere chagrined observation of the quirks of online revelations. In other words, she thinks I have marriage relationships issues. (Did I mention she's a couples therapist?)

She's right, of course. It's complicated. I suppose, like the rest of the Married people, I try (mostly) not to tell this to the world. Unlike them, I fail. I do. I do. I do.