I have been blessed with a close group of friends who I get to journey through each stage of life with. We all met our husbands around the same time, got married within six months of each other and became parents for the first time within six months of each other as well. I appreciate this group of women and love getting together with them for girl's nights, group dates and family fun time, but I've also learned to look for community in other places. Thanks to the internet, it's easy to find community pretty much anywhere. There are chat rooms and Facebook groups, those who make a connection with someone through their website or social media profile, etc. I've found a lot of great groups and formed great friendships in all sorts of places on the internet and in person. A lot of my friendships have overlapped from the internet to real life and vice versa.
While online community can be great, I've seen a lot of ugly as well. I've been part of a few different marriage and newlywed wife groups on Facebook over the years and I've left the majority of them because of the negativity I read and how the community in general seemed to feel about marriage in general. I'm sure this same thing is true for all types of communities both online and in person (blogging, mommy groups, etc.), but it's always been the most apparent to me in different marriage focused groups, probably because of my interest in the subject. Instead of being a place where wives come to lift each other up, seek encouragement and share success stories that help others who might be struggling, a lot of these groups seem to focusing on surviving marriage and finding sympathy in their frustration and annoyances.
It's taken everything I have not to start commenting on a lot of the things that I've seen posted in groups like this. For about 99% of things posted, I've wanted to yell type, "This is not the place for a discussion like this! Go talk to your husband, a professional or a trusted spiritual leader!" but I've bit my tongue, or rather held my fingers and left the groups instead. I'm all about these groups that form community and provide a place for wives to connect with other wives, but in a much different form. Rather than moaning and groaning about the not so glamorous sides of marriage, the community you seek out should be uplifting and encouraging each other through your tough times and successes. (Think searching for grounds for marriage vs. searching for grounds for divorce.) While seeking out community in your life (whether for marriage or something else), look for these three things.
- Positive Encouragement and Support: If you were to talk to your group about a struggle that you are going through, would they share their own similar experiences that ended in success and encourage you to keep going? Would they help you look at the situation from a different angle or from the other person's point of view? Or would they encourage you to continue to be frustrated, annoyed and bitter about the situation that you are in and toward the people involved?
- Meaningful and Inspiring Discussions: If you were to ask a question, looking for advice, in the group that you are part of, would their answers encourage you to make healthy changes? In one community that I was part of, a wife complained that her husband would never pick up his dirty socks or put them in the hamper at the end of the day, and then she asked for advice. Rather than encouraging her to communicate her expectations to her husband and have a conversation with him that helped them both come to an agreement, wives were sympathizing with her frustration and saying things like, "Husbands!" or "I had the same problem and started doing something that bothered him in return until he stopped". Are the suggestions and advice that you get from your group healthy and mature or are they feeding your fire and encouraging you to fight back?
- Similar Goals and Values: Is the group that you are part of striving for the same outcome that you are? Do the other members of the group value similar things as you? For marriage communities specifically, I search for others who are constantly striving to make the relationship that they have with their spouse better. We may not all prioritize different marriage building activities at the same level, but our ultimate goal is the same and we feel similarly about the things that can help or harm a relationship.
If you're looking for an uplifting community of wives to join, check out the Wife Support Facebook Community. This was started a couple of years back as a book study group and has evolved and changed into what it is today. Just a few months ago, when I'd let the group fall into inactivity and was considering closing it, I was talking to Charlene from Enduring All Things about my decision and she offered to tag team the content and help me bring the group back to life. We've had a lot of fun sharing inspirational quotes, tips and resources for marriage, hosting discussions and getting to know the other wives in the community. We encourage other wives to share their successes, ask for advice and request support in their struggles. We do not put up with husband or marriage bashing, complaining about marriage or tearing each other down. We're excited to see what this online community evolves and grows into and we'd love to have you join us! Click here and request to join, or come back to my blog at any time and click the button on my sidebar.
Do you have a great marriage community that you are apart of? What makes it so uplifting for you?