A Thought About Writing About Your Marriage Online

Was reading elsewhere someone noting their opinion that when people are posting online about how great their marriage is, that marriage is probably in trouble in some way, in the manner of how our online presentation of ourselves is highly mediated and controllable, unlike our real lives, which are messy and not always great.

I’ve been online long enough to take as a given that the online versions of our lives are the edited versions. I have always been open to people who read me online that they’re getting a version of me tuned to the medium, and I don’t feel obliged to share everything that goes on in the day-to-day of my life. Certainly that can cross over to the aspirational (presenting our lives as better than they are) or defensive (presenting them as different to counter a growing reality). With that said, I think it’s also the case that we can be cynical about how people present their lives online, and why.

I frequently write about being married to Krissy and how lucky I feel that I get to be so. It’s not because our marriage is in trouble, otherwise it would have been in trouble for close to a quarter century now. It’s mostly because I just genuinely *like* my wife, as well as love her, and because I am aware of just how different (and almost certainly lesser) my life would be without her. I think it’s good to publicly acknowledge that and to appreciate her (as well as, of course, let her know privately, away from the rest of you).

I suppose what I’m saying here is that when people express love for each other online — whether it’s to a spouse, or a parent, or a child, or a friend — consider that it’s not fake, or an inverse relationship, or a harbinger of trouble for that relationship. It is possible for people to be sincere online. It’s not all fake relationship news. And if sometimes it *is* fake relationship news, it’s okay to hope that by presenting that aspirational picture, the people involved are putting up a signpost for where they want that relationship to go, and will find a way to get there.

Krissy and I in London, earlier this year.

36 thoughts on “A Thought About Writing About Your Marriage Online

  1. Editorial note: I originally posted this on my private Facebook page and then ported it over here for archival purposes. I do that sometimes.

  2. Thumbs up!

    I never thought you were insincere in any way. It’s great for people to acknowledge how much the loved ones in their lives make them who they are. Self-made people don’t exist, unless they are Olympian gods

  3. I agree completely. The way I see it, if I’m not writing or talking about how great I feel being married, then I’m probably not bringing it up in the first place.

  4. I don’t totally disagree. However, it’s been my experience that when people post often and effusively about how GREAT their spouse/marriage is, it’s not uncommon for these posts to be a cover for real problems.

    I like your idea of thinking of these posts as “aspirational.”

  5. Wishing you and Krissy many years of wedded bliss. One reason our household are fans of Old Man’s War is that the Perrys come across as real people who like being married. Which I think is more common than is portrayed in popular culture or in social media. Love and family can really be great things.

  6. Perhaps it’s my age showing, but I tend to find that this is more the case when people are writing about their relationship (not just marriages) on social media as opposed to a more thoughtful and reflective medium like a blog. I’ve also observed that the stereotype of effusive expressions being indicative of problems tend to be more accurate when the participants are a) very young, 2) have only been in the relationship for a brief period or also) when their patterns of expressions suddenly change radically. I have no scientific data to back this up, but I suspect facebook does.

  7. It isn’t hard to see that the two of you are happy. My wife and I have been happily married now for going on 27 years. Everyone should be so fortunate.

  8. Well jeez John, that was a completely lovely, thought-full and kind spirited post. Very much enjoyed. And, it’s quite true that it’s uplifting to witness the genuine affection for your wife.

  9. EVERY picture of you and Krissy together, you are wearing an expression that seems to say “I am the luckiest man on Earth!”

  10. To second Dsayko, that is a lovely necklace and I too would love to know where it’s from!

  11. I find there to be a difference between the “hey, this person is part of my life and I am blessed for it as they have made my life better in these ways” kinds of posts and the “my spouse and I are so superlative, we’re a signpost for how you should be doing it” kinds of posts.

    What I don’t know is whether there is a correlation between those kinds of posts and the relationship is good/relationship is in trouble axis that people are apparently postulating.

  12. I could tell how close you are to your family in that they made time to drive over to Dayton a couple of years ago during one of your book shop tours! That speaks highly of your wife and daughter as well. My son, who was embarrassed to come in, spent two hours in a cold car while it was raining while you spoke. I guess it speaks highly of him in that he drove two hours each way so I could see you. I did not make him come, though he read OMW while I was inside.

  13. LOL. Eric Raymond’s blog is just before yours and reading this post I thought it was ESR writing it. Got to the picture and thought “That’s John Scalzi and Crissy!”. Re-read the post a couple of times looking for snark. Went to reply to ESR and, well, here we are.

  14. All of this. Personally, your obvious esteem for your wife and daughter are part of why I like to read your blog.

  15. I passed the two of you in the hall at Worldcon last year and you looked like teenagers in love, out on a date. We should all be so fortunate!

  16. Anniversary coming up soon! I feel so sorry for people who think the way you describe. I wish everyone who wanted to be in a good relationship could be. I wish everyone who wanted a significant other could have one who is as good a fit for them as mine is for me. I am so lucky and give mental thanks every single day. #blessed

  17. I never of your relationship with Krissy as anything but genuine. May we all be this lucky.

    That anyone might think it is somehow fake or a cover for a relationship in trouble IMO speaks more to our current online environment which contains highly curated feeds of social media “influencers” that portray lives removed from reality.

  18. The media seems to delight in showing people breaking up so I think it’s great to see people happy together. Congratulations to you both on achieving your quarter century.

  19. Blanket statements generally fail on closer inspection. I added generally because this is a blanket statement. Here is one that I think will hold up under close scrutiny. Not only are our online personalities edited to our audience all of our personalities are edited for the intended audience. How I behave at work with my boss is different from how I interact with coworkers which is different from how I interact with my family. This is a product of being social critters and the changes can go from subtle shift to fundamentally dishonest.

  20. Even disregarding your written words re your marriage, every picture you’ve ever posted of the two of you, or of Krissy, screams connection, love, respect. And yes, even like. Unless a video somewhere of you two in a massive late-night blowup outside of Spago shows up on TMZ, that’s what I’m going with.

  21. While I have occasionally wondered if Krissy’s opinion of your wonderful relationship is the same as yours (as seen here), and while I understand (as you’ve mentioned now and then) that online you isn’t exactly real world you, I have never leapt to the suspicion that it’s ENTIRELY fake. As your virtual friend, I’m happy for your virtual relationship, and confidently hopeful that your real one is just as great.

  22. What’s this? You posting a picture of you WITH Krissy? Thanks for sharing and I’m glad you’re both still pleased. The respect you have for her comes through in your writing, which is something that’s often missing from the faux-brag posts. They have to brag when things go well, because the rest of the time isn’t so pleasant.

  23. From the time that I first read one of Mr. Scali’s odes to his wife, I have been certain that he would agree with me that “uxorious” is the quality of a highly intelligent male.

  24. You had to put the word “almost” in there, didn’t you, John?

    “almost certainly”

    Dude, just say your life would be different and lesser (without qualifiers) so you never have to find out.

  25. Verisimilitude
    Your posts, esp about your wife, daughter and family always feel right. The right amount of self-deprecation. The right amount of openness. The right amount of bragging. The right amount of we know that there is more, but you would never say.

    Your personal essays, The Child on the Train, Being Poor, and so many others; can you imagine an author who could write those as fiction? They tear at the soul.

    And in every action that we have ever seen out in the real world, they reflect your words. Egosurfing – you never hid that you did it, you talked about it. When you blew something in an essay, you owned up and moved on.

    And the people that attack you? They always ring hollow. FFS, attacking you for being a SJW?? How do you attack someone for fighting for justice?

    We have never seen your tax records, but we can trivially imagine the charities that you donate to, the causes that you support. I can imagine donations to your HS or similar scholarship funds. Paying it forward.

    Your wife?
    DUH

    I have always felt that the parents are reflected in their children.
    Why would we think anything else of Krissy?

    We are just lucky to get to vicariously share in this life.

  26. Am writing after not reading one other damned post, but you two are freaking adoooorable.

  27. The contrary can also be true: “it’s complicated” or “no comment” can just mean “none of your business” rather than OMG it’s all falling apart. I’m not a public figure and anyone who knows me/us can either see what our relationship status is or they don’t need to know. So on antisocial media our status is the least informative option.

  28. There’s a line. You don’t want to cross over into “Wife Guy Meme” territory. Personally I tend to avoid both praise and criticism of people I know online, both because getting it wrong is easy and mawkish, but more improtantly because I sincerely don’t care what random strangers think about my marriage. Praise in public, crticise in private is great advice for face to face interaction though.

  29. Some actor (cant remember who) said his wedding well wishes was always the same: “Congratulations, youre a very lucky guy.”(then turn to the bride) “And YOU could have done better”.

    Still makes me chuckle.

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