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There’s a new “challenge” post circulating Facebook. It involves posting a picture of you and your spouse, stating that you understand he/she has your back even in the toughest of times.

Call me old-fashioned or whatever, but I think it’s true and pretty awesome.

My spouse has my back. He doesn’t always do dishes or help with cleaning but he works hard to provide for us, loves our children and myself, and does his best in whatever he’s doing. So I liked this challenge and chose to participate. Yes, I felt a little guilty when thinking of friends whom I wanted to challenge but they aren’t currently married for whatever reason. Still, I wanted to do it for myself.

Back to the “challenge.” I saw someone post an article on how the political ramifications of voting for Clinton or Trump would affect the author’s homosexual marriage and family. The person posting it stated same-sex marriage and the fact that many families are non-traditional was the reason she refused to partake in the challenge. I was instantly guilty because I wondered if I was offending people by posting my marriage. So I read the article. Essentially, it asked for people to vote for Clinton because a Trump vote would tear this family, and other families with same-sex parents, apart.

That’s when I got confused. I couldn’t figure out why my friend would relate the “challenge” to a political view. I’m not upset that she doesn’t want to do the challenge. I just struggle to understand why. I also know, by nature, she is a deeper thinker than I am (must come from me having too many conversations with under-8-year-olds while she has adult company) so maybe there’s a point I’m missing, like the challenge is ONLY supposed to be for traditional married couples, or something similar.

Am I privileged to be in a hetero marriage? You bet I am. Are others privileged to be in same-sex marriages? You bet they are. Are they treated the same way in society? You bet not. What I don’t understand is why it’s so wrong to celebrate your spouse, no matter what the orientation.

(Sorry, single parents, I know this is leaving you out. I also know there are a variety of reasons for being single and perhaps the challenge should be to post pics of you and your significant other because there are lots of times where we have very close, loving relationships without marriage.)

After much deliberation, I decided it wasn’t the “challenge” or her declining to participate that bothered me; it’s is how these “challenges” on social media can divide us, and it’s how we have a need to “prove” ourselves publicly.

For example, the ice bucket challenge – you were a prick if you didn’t do and support that. Yet, there were people who didn’t like how some of the ASL research uses aborted fetuses, and people got down on them for not supporting ASL by participating in the challenge. How about the 22 push-ups for the 22 veteran suicides per day? I was challenged but couldn’t post because the video on my phone didn’t work, and I apologized – yes, apologized – for being unable to post. Some people came down pretty hard on me, stating I was being negative and refusing to bring the issue to light. What? Because my phone wouldn’t transfer video? I did the push-ups, just without video proof. I continued to engage in therapy with people who consider suicide. I was as supportive as I could be without proving it to the social media world.

So there’s the underlying issue – our need to “prove” ourselves to others. Some of these challenges aren’t lived day-to-day. Many of the challenges start with people who are living the struggle day-to-day but I think it gets lost as others join. Do 22 push-ups, post the video, and go on with your day. What did you do for a veteran? Dump a bucket of ice on your head, post the video, and go on with your day. Okay, at least that one requested a monetary commitment to the ASL organization, which maybe you did and maybe you didn’t.

I like the marriage “challenge” because my spouse is supportive and I’ll shout it to the mountaintops. We are living proof that relationships aren’t perfect and take work, dedication, love, and sacrifice. WE LIVE THAT EACH DAY FOR EACH OTHER AND WE DON’T HAVE TO POST PROOF (even though I’m currently choosing to do so).

I can’t deny the love and sacrifice that non-traditional marriage relationships have. More than likely, I’m naive and conservative about the issue. I want people to get along. I want the hate to stop. I want the shaming to stop.

So I’m naive and conservative. That’s fine. I’m going to continue the marriage “challenge” because it is positive, and in our times, there’s a lot of negative events out there. For seven days, I’ll post a picture of my spouse and myself, and I will challenge two friends. It’s up to them if they want to do it, no questions asked and no reasons needed. I won’t judge. I promise. (I hope the person who reads this and knows her post sparked the thoughts in my mind doesn’t feel judged because that isn’t my intent.)

Here’s my point: After posting, I’m going to continue to PROVE my post by LIVING BY MY COMMITMENT. I’m going to take care of my spouse because he takes care of me. We’ll continue to struggle and persevere. We’ll continue to be loving and dedicated. We’ll do this, long after the “challenge” has faded. So will many of you, whether or not you choose to participate in this particular social media “challenge.”

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So God Made a Mother's Story Keepsake Journal

Jessica McCaslin

Jessica is a mom who is working outside the home part-time and who is learning to cope with the ever-changing daily challenges of full-time parenthood. She graduated with her Master's degree in community counseling from the University of Nebraska at Kearney in 2005, and works with a diverse mental health population. Jessica resides in Central Nebraska with her husband and four children on the family ranch.

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