The PR of Happiness (or “Disneyland Nightmares”)

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Part 1: In the months before my wedding, I had nightmares about visiting Disneyland. Since Disney was our honeymoon destination, it was something thought about constantly during my waking hours. In my dreams, I would always arrive late or forget my ticket and the whole day would be ruined.

I soon realized that my dreams had broader implications. On a deeper level, I was worried that all my marriage plans, not just the honeymoon, wouldn’t live up to my expectations. I was making a lifelong commitment and it didn’t matter how confident I was that I’d picked the right person, there was no guarantee my plans for happiness would pan out. Would I arrive at my “happy ever after” only to realize I’d forgotten my ticket? 

Luckily, our Disneyland trip was awesome and so was our marriage. And then a year later, the Disney dreams came back, but different this time.ticket_to_happiness

Part 2: Lately, I’ve started dreaming that I’m introducing Disneyland to my parents for the first time. They’ve never been big fans of Disneyland, but I’m convinced I can show it to them in a thoughtful way that will make them love it as much as I do. If I just keep a relaxed pace, then they won’t get tired out…except that something always goes wrong.

The broader meaning here? Well, now that I’ve gotten my “happy ever after”, I’ve been struggling to share it with my friends/family. Since we moved to Texas, the only way to stay in touch with them is through facebook and phone calls. I worry that constant “I’m so happy” posting on facebook will become annoying, or worse, not believed. When I tell my mom anecdotes from my life, I’m worried she’ll think I’m censoring out the bad stories.

Because everyone knows that marriages aren’t actually happy, right? All that stuff about marriage leading to happiness is a hollywood myth and couples who look happy are just good at hiding their misery. Anyone who buys into “happy ever after” is delusional, so I feel like a fake whenever I tell people the truth: R and I get along amazingly. Or I feel like I’m rubbing my happiness in their faces. So I try to tone it down–limit my mushy gushy posts, balance them out with tales of little frustrations we’ve encountered because it sounds more grounded. 

Now, please don’t comment with “Don’t worry what other people think” because that’s not my point. I’m just trying to be both transparent and sensitive to my audience. Sometimes it’s just more complicated than others. 

Part 3: So what I’m trying to say is, “I swear I’m not lying about being happy.” And if you’re a close friend or family member reading this, I can promise that I wouldn’t try to hide it from you if my relationship with R did sour. That doesn’t mean I’ll complain about it on facebook because that wouldn’t be fair to R, but I won’t stuff my troubles under the bed…errr, in the closet…err…under the rug! Hopefully rugs don’t have any innuendo in them…

As a counterpoint to this post, here is a breathtaking article thread about relationship envy and how we publicly present our relationships. I have re-read about 6 times in the past year because it’s so relevant. Essentially the bottom line is “don’t compare your insides to someone else’s outside.” But it goes even deeper than that. Check it out: http://apracticalwedding.com/2013/04/relationship-comparisons-online/ and then the writer’s followup later: http://apracticalwedding.com/2014/04/everyday-kindness/ 

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