RACHEL HOLLIS AND THE MYTH OF THE PERFECT MARRIAGE
June 16, 2020
Let’s talk. Social media is currently abuzz with the news. Rachel Hollis, mommy blogger, author, and self-proclaimed ‘relationship coach’, and her husband, Dave, just announced their divorce.
I’ve loosely followed Rachel online, as I suspect many of you may have as well. Her post announcing their split went live the evening of June 8th and within hours had over 6,000 comments. I fell down the rabbit hole of reading some of those comments. Folks are shocked. Some are angry. Some feel duped. After all, the Hollis’ built their business around telling the rest of us how to have the perfect marriage, right?
Despite what I’ve seen and read, the truth is I never knew her real marriage. None of us did, really.
What we see on Facebook and Instagram about Rachel’s marriage, about our neighbor’s marriage, about anyone’s marriage is just a small piece of the real relationship. Most of us don’t post about the messier parts of our lives, including Rachel and Dave.
The problem with public figures like Rachel, is they perpetuate the myth that a good marriage is supposed to be easy. Idyllic even. And when those relationships publicly unravel, we get cynical and disillusioned.
But here is what I know.
The “perfect marriage” isn’t perfect and there is no perfect spouse.
Be leery of anyone portraying a perfect marriage. The very best marriages are still made up of two flawed people just trying to figure it all out. Even relationship therapists who have good marriages, frequently have hard marriages. That is certainly true of my own marriage, one that is certainly far from perfect, but one I wouldn’t trade for anything.
A perfect marriage is simply two people who are willing to be transparent, vulnerable and work it out. They remember their commitment and, at times, trade immediate happiness for a lifetime partner who they can trust to be there and with whom they can raise a family – through the easy seasons, where less effort is required, and the seasons that are quite frankly, hard as hell.
That’s a “perfect” marriage.
Is there hope for us?
“If Rachel & Dave can’t make it, is there any hope for us?” YES! Listen, it’s not about the size of the problem. It’s about the level of your motivation. If you want a better marriage, you can’t quit working on it. You may feel angry, hurt, or self-righteous in the moment, but do you remain committed to working on changing it? Couples that have great marriages, argue, and fight too. The difference is their steadfast commitment to each other and to improving the partnership. [Here is where I always feel the need to put the disclaimer: Abusive relationships are the exception. If you are in an abusive marriage, working on it is likely not the answer. Your safety is the most important.]
Trust the experts.
All too often we take our relationship advice from those that aren’t trained professionals, whether that be family and friends or famous relationship bloggers. I’ve seen far too much of this “good advice” – well-intentioned or not – cause great damage to relationships. Be leery of anyone who sells the fairytale relationship.
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A lot of the therapy work I do is helping couples and partners understand what their contributions to the relationship are, and how they can start making changes for the better, specifically with communication. Specifically, when communicating with your spouse, it’s important to make sure that you are not part of the problem, but part of the solution.
I bet many of you have already seen the recent Brene’ Brown video making the rounds where she calls out the myth of marriage being a 50/50 partnership.
I get asked a lot how to save a marriage when one spouse is leaning out or is contemplating divorce. Everybody’s situation’s different, but what I’m seeing a lot lately is very concerning to me.