Glimpses of Momentary Victory

by Hallie @ Moxie Wife on August 5, 2013

“I’m curious what your opinion is of using social media to talk positively about one’s husband. I love to brag about what a great he is (truly! I am blessed!), but lately I’ve been wondering if that gives too one-sided a view. We have our ups and downs like anyone and I worry that by saying only the good I’ll make others jealous or give the false impression that marriage doesn’t take a LOT of work!”

❤❤❤❤❤

This comment landed in my combox/inbox last week and I’ve been thinking about it ever since. It’s an excellent question. (Thanks, Elizabeth!)

I think this issue of blogs (and other social media updates) not giving a complete picture of the struggles inherent to life (motherhood, womanhood, work, marriage, faith, etc.) is a real one. What do I mean by that? Well, when I first started blogging years and years ago, there were a great many blogs that highlighted the lovelier aspects of life, but not so many that offered a no holds barred look at the highs and lows of life.

The problem was not (in my opinion only, of course) that “pretty” blogs are less “real” than those that are a bit more gritty, but that there wasn’t a whole lot of balance.* I’ve heard from many women who felt like they were failing as women and mothers and wives because their life felt like such a disaster when held up against the pictures they saw on their favorite sites.

I think we as a blogging community have made a lot of progress in this department over the last handful of years. I just love that we now have so many voices telling so many stories from so many different angles. There’s a little something for everyone!

I’ve always been inspired by the beautiful blogs and now am equally delighted to see the women who feel called to highlight more of the struggles inherent to our vocations baring their souls and reaching out to their sisters-in-Christ in their own unique way. Many of us — who may have at one point felt self-conscious — have learned that there is no shame in honesty. And we’ve learned that we need one another. That is a very good thing.

It’s true, though — no matter which sort of blog you favor, most of us will at least occasionally open our favorites blogs, read accounts of beauty and joy, and then flog ourselves mercilessly. I wish we could all see (and celebrate) these snapshots for what they really are: glimpses of momentary victory. Sadly, our terrible insecurities step out of the shadows and throw all sorts of ugly lies in our direction. So it is in this fallen world.

But back to the specific question above, marriage is an especially sacred (and often sensitive) area of life so I’ve always felt strongly that I want to avoid making other women feel badly about their marriages. I hope I do a decent job of highlighting both the highs and lows of married life. It’s not always easy because I’d never want to throw Dan under the bus or air too much of our dirty laundry, but I also would never want to give the impression that my marriage has been flawless. My marriage is one of the finest gifts God has ever handed to me. It is also the primary place that I’ve done battle with evil and have been refined by fire.

Off the top of my head I can think of four things I do to try to achieve balance:

  1. When talking about marriage, I focus most of my attention on my shortcomings. After all, I am talking mostly to women and women share more of my particular temptations than men do.
  2. I talk about the more difficult parts of marriage in general terms without citing specific examples of my husband’s actions. I know all too well that I view his actions through a prism of my own bias. Even if he were okay with my sharing more details about his actions (and he’s insanely humble so he probably would be), I don’t necessarily trust my own account.
  3. Everything I post about our marriage gets run by him first. He is a very private guy and I would never want to make him feel too exposed.
  4. And I do (without reservation) praise my husband whenever the mood strikes. He is a finer husband than I’d ever dreamed of (or could ever deserve) and I want him to know how much I cherish him.

If any of you have any tips for Elizabeth (and me!) I hope you’ll share them!

 

Have a lovely week, girls!

Hallie

 

 

*Edited for clarity since this has become such a hot-button topic this week.

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{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

Charlotte (WaltzingM) August 5, 2013 at 11:07 am

I started blogging as therapy. I mean that seriously, not a joke. I was depressed and in the beginning of dealing with an anxiety disorder that I still battle today. All I could see around me was the ugly, the frustrating, the irritating, the four kids under the age of 6 and I felt like I had no power to change it or do anything to make it better. Blogging made me look for the beautiful. It made me seek out the cute things my kids said and did, not focus on the crying and the wiping. It forced me to look outside of myself to see the lovely things that were around me but I couldn’t see because I was too busy worrying about how I felt today, that moment, that second. And as I came out of that funk, I made more of an effort to find the beautiful things to post about hoping to inspire someone else to see the beautiful in their life, someone who was maybe in the same kind of funk.

My blog has been criticized for being one of those “too beautiful”, “too unreal”, “too good to be true” even though I think, if people were to really take a good look at it and not just look at the pictures or the party posts or the baked goods, they would see that I have been honest. One woman that I know in real life actually said that my blog was the blog that stopped her from reading all blogs. “Nail in the coffin” was the exact phrase she used. I get told in face to face conversations that so-and-so only reads my blog when she wants to feel like a horrible mother.

You have no idea how much it hurts, really hurts to read things and hear things like that. Some of us bare our souls to our husbands, our best friends, our therapists, our confessors…we just don’t do it online So, while I get that there are some people who prefer to know that there are others struggling the same as them, there are those of us who need to not focus on the struggling so much. Because if we do, we will be consumed by it. Rather than tearing down the beautiful blogs, why can’t we just acknowledge that there all different kinds of blogs for all different kinds of people?

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Mary August 5, 2013 at 5:29 pm

I couldn’t agree more with this. I think I could’ve written it. I’ve had the exact same things said to me and it hurts and it’s not fair.

That said, I think this was a great question and I really appreciate the discussion as it’s been on my mind a lot as well.

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Meredith August 6, 2013 at 8:14 pm

I agree with your approach, Charlotte, and encourage you to keep making things beautiful and sharing the inspiration with those of us who are moved by beauty! I blogged at Like Merchant Ships for much the same reasons, until I let real life, with all its stresses, take priority.

In retrospect, I see that shifting focus didn’t make those stresses go away. It just made the pretty moments harder to see.

I learn from the Charlottes and the Simchas of the blog world. Let’s keep creating in the way that honors God and fills us up, without worrying if it pleases everyone all the time!

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Melody August 5, 2013 at 11:13 am

Very interesting question. I understand the concern and have had it myself with my own writing. My own conclusion has been this:

Marriage takes a lot of abuse in this culture. If we’ve got a beautiful story, let’s tell it. Men take a lot of abuse at the hands (and blogs) of their ladies. Let’s buck that trend and build up our husbands. There should be no shame in telling the positive side like it is. And since airing dirty laundry or talking trash about our husbands is not appropriate in a public venue (basic Christian charity), our writing ought to be overwhelmingly positive.

As for keeping it real… there are many ways to do this without dishing the dirt on our men. I love Hallie’s tips and I think the way she writes is a great model to follow. When I read her blog, I get the strong impression that her marriage can be a rocky road sometimes but that authentic and passionate love is alive and well. Being a married human being, I can fill in the blanks. Marriage is really tough… but it is also good and beautiful. I don’t think you should ever feel uneasy about writing good things about your vocation and husband. What a wonderful way to honor God’s gift to your family!
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Charlotte (WaltzingM) August 5, 2013 at 11:19 am

BTW… I did your whole post and I realize that your first paragraph was only an introduction to what you were talking about, but I just feel like I needed to defend the “beautiful blogs” because of my particular attachment to them and because it might help other people understand where they are coming from. Trying to understand each other is one step on the way to building better relationships.
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bobbi @ revolution of love August 5, 2013 at 6:04 pm

Charlotte, I’m sorry to say I was one of those people that removed your blog from my reader awhile ago because I felt so inferior to your amazing posts. But just hearing you explain why you focus on the beautiful side makes me want to hug you and say I’m sorry I misjudged you! Knowing that you have your own struggles makes you a kindred spirit and suddenly puts things in proper perspective. Thanks for sharing your point of view. (Also, I just added your blog back into my reader. :-))
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Cynthia August 5, 2013 at 11:31 am

I loved this Hallie. I agree very much with Elizabeth and also with you. I think it’s important to be real, but not to over share and to never throw your husband under the bus. Marriage, as we all know, it a TWO way street. It’s a constant work in progress, but a beautiful one at that.

Thank you, as always, for your beautiful perspective!
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Abigail Benjamin August 5, 2013 at 12:16 pm

I think marriage is really beautiful. I love Kaitlin’s from “More Like Mary” who started a regular post series called “Why I Love My Husband.” Romance is all about “dating” in our culture, so it’s nice to talk about love and tenderness existing inside a marriage, instead of always before it.

I also think that marriage is much harder subject to talk about in public than parenthood.

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Sarah August 5, 2013 at 12:59 pm

You are right, Abigail. Parenthood difficulties are much easier to talk about. I always worry that I’ll make my husband look bad if I share a fight we’ve had, but with my kids, it’s not a big deal because it’s normal and expected for us to have friction from time to time.
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Kaitlin @ More Like Mary August 6, 2013 at 7:30 pm

Thanks Abigail!

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Sarah August 5, 2013 at 12:57 pm

Hallie, this is a subject that is on my mind so much! I am making an effort to share the lows with the highs, but I don’t balance this very well, and I worry that I come across as a sort of Pollyanna. And then there’s privacy. I don’t want to take advantage of my family members’ privacy. One of my biggest parenting struggles is my daughter’s special needs, but these aren’t obvious to the casual observer, and I don’t want to publish her disabilities to the world. I want her to have the option of keeping them private, especially as she gets older. But then, I do want to reach out to other mothers with children with special needs, and I want to share my experience in those circles. So it’s a conundrum for me.

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Terry August 5, 2013 at 1:25 pm

I have run across stuff like this too many times: “You shouldn’t write *that* (whatever nice thing *that* was) because my experience is totally different.” It bothers me that people are so very sensitive about things that they cannot either *skip* a blog (or post) that doesn’t resonate with their experience or take up their keyboard (starting a blog is free!) and write a contrary opinion, voice, choice, whatever. Every single blog is not for every single person.

No one’s life is just like anyone else’s. My life is not like yours, and my relationship with my husband is different at this stage than it was 34 years ago. We face different joys and much different challenges! But I love reading your blog. I like to read about happy people. And I’m old enough to know that even happy people are not deliriously happy 24/7/365.

But the Bible tells us: “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” (Philippians 4:8).

While we can certainly share our sorrows, our challenges, our concerns, to focus solely on those things would be to miss what we are *supposed* to be focusing on. And if, during a season of trial (and they come to all of us at one time or another), it may be that some of the “beautiful” blogs may not be a reader’s cup of tea. But I, for one, am glad to see younger wives who love their hubbies, love their children, and are vocal about it. Everything in the culture seems to go the other way.

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Julie August 5, 2013 at 2:04 pm

That’s a great scripture verse for this, Terry! I worry that us women let “real” mean “negative”. You’re not “keeping it real” if you’re not airing the dirty laundry equally with the clean. Ad campaigns tell us that skinny women aren’t “real”. I hear from my peers that chastity isn’t “realistic” and that in “real life” relationships always start as a hook-up. I get that it can be reassuring to remember that life is messy and we don’t always live up to our ideals but we have to be careful about not making “beautiful” the opposite of “real”. God created reality and He is perfectly good and beautiful, etc! Just because someone uses her blog to share the beauty of her life and edits out the darker parts doesn’t mean she’s in denial or she thinks she’s better than you. It’s a blog; it’s public; not everything is appropriate to be put into public like that, and plenty of problems only get worse with more publicity.

I’m a single woman so I know that some days I can’t handle reading (for example) proposal or how-we-met stories. I also know that some days looking at photos of big gorgeous houses or four-figure handbags is a bad idea too! It stings to close that browser tab, but it’s for the best.

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Andrea August 5, 2013 at 3:45 pm

Growing up, my mama’s advice to me was to have friends who spoke well of their husbands.
I loved your post, Hallie, about not husband-bashing on social media, but I did find myself wondering “who does this?!” Because, my friends speak highly of their husbands. I speak highly of my husband to others, including online, because that’s how I really feel. If I don’t feel something nice, I don’t say it.
I suppose that if I had a real issue in my marriage, that I have a girlfriend or two that I *might* trust enough to share with, in a respectful way, but that would take something extreme for me. My marriage is sacred. Even though we do have our moments and hard times, I feel no obligation whatsoever to share that stuff on my blog or in real life. In order to be “real” I don’t need to talk trash about my husband, and because it’s my blog, my space, my memories, it delights me to share about how awesome Charlie is. And oddly enough, those are some of my most popular posts. In addition, it makes me happy to see and hear about other people who have happy marriages. It’s such an important witness. A specific example is Elizabeth Foss. The way she wrote and continues to write laid the groundwork for me as a young wife, the way she respects him and her tone when referring to him always touches my heart so deeply and inspires me to love my own husband better. She never pretends everything is perfect. But she is unquestioningly loving and respectful.
General marriage advice is important, like you offer here, but for those of us with blogs that aren’t specifically about marriage, I don’t like to see a lot of negative talk about husbands.
Also, Charlotte, I love your comments. Your blog is lovely, and how wonderful that it’s been such an important part of your ability to see the beauty! What a lot of beauty you share with your family. :-)
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Barbie August 5, 2013 at 4:03 pm

I am going to rant a bit. As Catholics, our families should be of paramount importance. In my experience, there is little more tiresome than sitting in a group of Catholic women who start husband-bashing. I cannot believe that Jesus meant for us to white-knuckle it through marriage, and I don’t find my peers saintly when they play victim of their husbands’ cruelty (many times I feel they are not examining themselves enough). I cannot believe that’s how the Holy Family lived. Obviously, we can’t expect zero conflict, but forgiveness and overall harmony should be the goal. I feel even more uncomfortable when I read husband-bashing on blogs – it’s pretty low to gossip to complete strangers about one’s husband.

I usually don’t talk to others about conflicts with my husband out of respect for our relationship, but occasionally, when I am very disillusioned, I do. I have a few Catholic women confidants who know that he is a good man and that we mean to continue our marriage, no matter how I feel in the moment. These women don’t take sides, unless it’s sometimes to knock me out of my funk with evidence of how unreasonable I am being. I appreciate this.

I can understand people feeling made of fail when they read certain blogs. I sometimes feel that way. When I’m feeling that way, I take it as an opportunity to examine myself. Am I not doing enough? Am I not happy with the woman God created me to be? Am I too much of a perfectionist? Because, really, if there are human relationships, it should go without saying that there is conflict. I would absolutely hate for those blogs to end because I sometimes feel bad after reading them! They add so much to my life, just giving me cool ideas and seeing other, different happy homes in action.

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Amelia August 5, 2013 at 4:20 pm

I think as both writers and readers, it is important to focus on the positive because what we focus on becomes our thoughts and to a certain extent our reality. Not trying to be all New Agey and say that our thoughts form our reality or that positive thinking can outweigh any difficulty or anything like that. But, I notice that at least for me, if I focus too much on the negative…read blogs that are too negative, listen too too many negative stories, I start to focus on the negative and SEE the negative, instead of the positive. I hate to admit this, but I honestly do think that reading too many stories about bad in-laws or in-law problems, made me view my in-laws in a more negative light, made me focus on the negative and ultimately harmed our relationship.

I love reading about good marriages, because I think it helps my marriage be better, it inspires me to focus more on the positive and the good things I love about my husband, instead of on the negative or on his flaws.
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bobbi @ revolution of love August 5, 2013 at 5:59 pm

I think it is important to have a balance of the good and the bad but I will not write negative things about my husband on my blog. I usually mention things from a general point of view – that my husband and I had an argument and highlight how I dealt with it. Or I’ll talk about how I deal with my own negative tendencies that can put a strain on our marriage. That way it highlights that all marriages take work but still maintains respect and privacy for my husband. (And if I have failed to do that in the past I will certainly be more aware of it in the future.)

As for other general positive posts I try to mention some of the behind the scenes moments that took place. For example, I posted a recipe and a pretty picture of a cake but admitted I had to use lots of extra frosting to cover the gaping hole on one side if it because I forgot to grease the pan. Or I write out a post of great parenting advice but admit that while I was posting it my son climbed up on the kitchen sink and dumped out a container of milk so there went my mom of the year award. I think a little pretty with a little reality is a great combo. ;-)
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Joy @ Caspara August 6, 2013 at 12:54 am

Wow, once again you’ve brought up something I have just been considering too! My husband is also very private, and yet as a writer, I’ve pulled back the curtain on our lives more than he would prefer, I’m sure. And while I don’t criticize him on FB or air our dirty laundry, I do say something about him getting me flowers on Valentine’s Day, for instance, even when that happened to be one of the most insanely stressful days of his job. I guess I feel like there’s enough crap in the world — enough examples of snide, sarcastic marriages, and not enough “laying down your life” for your spouse — that I can say some good things about my husband in a public forum.
I also would have to say “ditto” to the first comment — that my blog was started with the clear goal about being what I love and learn, even in the hard times. And if that’s “too much goodness” — gosh, do I really need to apologize for that? I think there’s plenty of reality on my blog, too.
Anyway, thanks for more thought food! :-)
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Joy @ Caspara August 6, 2013 at 12:54 am

Wow, once again you’ve brought up something I have just been considering too! My husband is also very private, and yet as a writer, I’ve pulled back the curtain on our lives more than he would prefer, I’m sure. And while I don’t criticize him on FB or air our dirty laundry, I do say something about him getting me flowers on Valentine’s Day, for instance, even when that happened to be one of the most insanely stressful days of his job. I guess I feel like there’s enough crap in the world — enough examples of snide, sarcastic marriages, and not enough “laying down your life” for your spouse — that I can say some good things about my husband in a public forum.
I also would have to say “ditto” to the first comment — that my blog was started with the clear goal about being what I love and learn, even in the hard times. And if that’s “too much goodness” — gosh, do I really need to apologize for that? I think there’s plenty of reality on my blog, too.
Anyway, thanks for more thought food!:-)
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MelanieB August 6, 2013 at 12:59 am

I love the phrase, “glimpses if momentary victory.” That is definitely what I try to capture with my writing. I often use writing as a way to process so for me writing itself can be a way of snatching victory out of the jaws if defeat. I sit down to write about my heartache or struggle and in the writing find the beauty, the glory, the triumph of the cross. So I see that in my writing the dark exists side by side with the light but I also appreciate those bloggers who gave a knack for capturing the beauty and the high points while turning their back on the ugly or mentioning the struggle only in passing. We are all seeking the beautiful, the good, and the true because beauty, goodness, and truth are of God. That anyone should feel a need to apologize for finding beauty just goes to show how the devil can use anything to twist our hearts away from God.
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Kate August 6, 2013 at 4:11 pm

I’m an introvert, so I don’t share much about my husband (or myself) in general. It takes me a long time to open up to someone. When my husband and I first met each other, and then began to date … it took well over a year before anyone even realized either of us was no longer single. We just … don’t share. Anything, lol. This sometimes drives our respective families nuts as they find out, for instance, that their first grandchild is on its way … in 6 months. Yes, we waited 6 months to tell anyone with our first. I have a friend whom I have known since we were 5. And I can tell her anything. But, with more recent friends, whom I have known “only” a few years … I don’t really share much. Truthfully, whenever I do share, it’s always positive things. We’re a team. I can’t stab my teammate in the back! I know he won’t, so I can’t do it to him.
Having said that, I do enjoy reading blogs like this one and others. I like hearing the good and the bad! I can relate. It’s just my introverted nature gets in the way of my own sharing.

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Kate August 6, 2013 at 4:12 pm

Edited to add – oops, I meant waited until I was 6 months pregnant, due in 4 months. Not that I had a pregnancy that lasted for 12 months!

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anna lisa August 6, 2013 at 6:44 pm

I finally figured out why I don’t have a blog. I find that it is easier to be honest about my more serious struggles with life, motherhood, and marriage when I can write under a name like “wife” or “mother” in a com box, to try to reach out to someone who is also struggling. I try to give enough info so that I have credibility (number of kids and years married for instance), but think it would be unfair to expose a family member in an unflattering light.
I’m afraid that blogs, by their nature can become like “reality” shows. I think we all end up questioning how *real* reality shows are, even if they are entertaining or in the rare case, edifying as well.

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Amelia B. August 6, 2013 at 9:02 pm

As an unmarried woman, I appreciate the honesty! As I discern and prepare for marriage, mommy blogs are (for better or worse) some of my only real views of what mommy-life-in-the-trenches looks like. In a better world we would all live near our extended families and have wise old aunties to tell us how to live… but for some of us, the only Catholic families we “know” of childbearing age are virtual ones. So for those of us surfing the mommy blogs and slowly building up our hopes, dreams, and expectations for marriage, thank you for your honesty! If it were all sunshine and roses that got reported on the Catholic blogosphere, I think a lot of young people would be afraid of getting married – consciously or unconsciously comparing real-life relationships to virtual ones. For better or worse, this is something that happens, so the honesty is really important in my opinion!

(Obviously I don’t want anyone ruining their marriage by being too honest for the sake of strangers. Hallie’s tips “focus on my shortcomings” and “speak in general terms,” etc, are well put. I don’t need to know “I feel so isolated because my husband said ___ to me today and I just can’t take it anymore!,” but it is nice to hear something like “we’re in a busy season at work right now, and it makes keeping our relationship alive very difficult. When I’m tempted to despair, I _____ instead, and choose to continue to love this man in good times and in bad.”)

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Katy Morgan from Katy in a Corner August 8, 2013 at 7:56 pm

This is wonderfully said! And funny that something so simple (clicking/looking away) is so difficult for us as fallen human beings. Thanks for your insight!
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Aja August 9, 2013 at 9:14 pm

Thank you for this post. This is something I struggle with often as a blogger. I don’t get into the gory details of our arguments, I will usually only use a disagreement to expand on what I took from it. At the same time, I don’t do a lot of “look what my husband did for me!” I think that’s more because although I’m a blogger, both of us are pretty private and I like to keep some things for us and not the rest of the world. I would say that my thought process when thinking about sharing about my relationship, or anything really, is what value is it bringing to the person reading it. If it is to share an insight, I’m more inclined to share it. If it is for no other reason than to say “he’s bugging me” or “he’s super cool,” I keep it to myself.
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Teresa August 10, 2013 at 7:58 am

Can I ask an honest question? What is the purpose for praising a spouse on a blog? I don’t mean things like “It was a rough day, I was so happy when my husband came home and did the dishes for me”, I mean things like “My husband is the best husband in the world” and then list everything helpful and romantic he did that day. The first seems like an honest interpretation of the day whereas the second sounds, braggy, and that is where I think people get upset. I remember growing up my cousin’s parents bragged about her and my parents were not braggers and I always felt insufficient so I understand the feelings of insufficiency.

I always thought the purpose of praise was to thank the person you are praising so I have always assumed that was a personal, face-to-face sort of thing. I would be interested to hear everyone’s reason for praising your spouse on a blog! I like Aja’s interpretation that if it is for a specific insight it makes sense.

I firmly believe you should never say something bad about your husband on a blog, in a group, anywhere. Of course, it is ok to have a very few choice friends or family that you can bounce problems off of, but saying negative things about your spouse is a different story. I have held that that comes down to both taking the blame when someone is late, forgets something, etc. I think it is awful when at a party and someone says, “Oh, I’m so sorry, my husband forgot the food we were supposed to bring.”

I like Anna Lisa’s honesty about blogs turning into reality shows, I think that is good insight.

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Emily Davis August 12, 2013 at 10:30 am

Frankly – I’m happy for those who have great and positive attitudes. It’s something we all strive for.
It is such a bummer to me that women who are struggling would disparage another blogger because her life is positive. Positive is the best medicine for someone feeling down. I would much rather read a positive post than a whiny and negative one.

I would never judge you for it. Because as a mature woman, of a certain age (Ill be 50 in two months) I know that we all have bad things happen and chaos in our lives.

I agree, marriage is sacred. Apart from an occasional sarcasm, which my husband is aware of, I don’t speak about details of an argument, etc. why would I??? I applaud you for not speaking badly about your marriage.

And anyone who thinks someone’s life is perfect because they blog about positives needs prayer.

Blessings,
Em
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Elizabeth August 12, 2013 at 3:47 pm

Sorry it took me a few days to respond, but thank you for addressing my question with a whole post! It gave me a lot to think about (as did the comments).

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