His Facebook status still reads “Married.”
She was referencing a friend of hers going through a painful divorce. But it got me to thinking about how we wear our marital status in public, and the extent to which it reflects reality.
My wife joined FB several months after I did. She began building her friends list by going through my list and clicking “Add as Friend” as she felt appropriate. But she never listed her marital status, and I thought that was telling… albeit not really a surprise. (My status was listed as “Married”, but did not mention her by name. At the time that I’d joined FB, you couldn’t put someone’s name in unless they were a FB “Friend” of yours. Once she did join, and I saw she didn’t list herself as married, I was reticent to up the ante by linking to her specifically as my bride.)
Now, there are other ways we advertise our marital status. Truth be told, Penny stopped wearing her wedding/engagement rings some time ago. Two years ago, maybe? For that matter, I stopped wearing mine soon after the wedding. I think some context might help to show that our similar actions conveyed different things. First, I kept losing my ring. I’m not a jewelry person, and I’m not trained to keep track of such things. I don’t wear a watch for the same reason. And so on. Plus (he said, defensively), I had begun gaining weight after we wed… you see, Penny kept saying, “No,” while Ben & Jerry never said, “No.”
Penny, on the other hand, was a person who wore rings. So, when she stopped wearing rings after eight or so years of marriage, it seemed a little more… meaningful.
[I don't know; perhaps I'm deluding myself. Maybe my not wearing a ring all that time only exacerbated her disinclination to sleep with me.]
After my wife and I had our first “Talk” about divorcing, I checked to see if discreetly de-listing (not changing, but making ‘unpublished’) my marital status would trigger one of those “So-and-So has changed their relationship status” posts. I have two accounts on FB, you see. When I first joined, I was suspicious of the whole enterprise, so I joined under an assumed name and asked a friend to “Friend me” so I could see what the deal is. Having kept that account around, I use it to test things like that. So my shadow account unpublished his marital status. No mention of it on my main account’s front page. So, I un-published my main account’s marital status, likewise.
As in the case of “imgonnabreakyourheart’s” friend, it’s a matter of acknowledging reality. While Penny and I are not yet separated, that is the path we are on. And there’s an important distinction between acknowledging your situation and advertising it. I don’t want a little broken heart icon showing up on all my friends’ FB accounts telling them I’m no longer married. I don’t want them to ask the inevitable questions after seeing my status change to “Single,” (which I’m not) or “It’s complicated” (which it isn’t).
And even if it were available, I’m not up for telling the whole world (except here, pseudonymously) that my status is, “Prepping for divorce.”
As it turns out, some other people are not so discrete about these things.
Penny has three brothers. All of them got married, starting with the youngest brother, then Penny (who, like me, is an oldest child), and then the middle two. Imagine my surprise when, one evening while FBing, I see on my list of status updates that her youngest brother (with a broken heart icon) “is no longer married.”
He was online, so I pinged him. I asked if there was anything I could do. Nah, he said. This was the second time [his wife] had been sleeping around, and he was just tired of it. So, they were going to split up.
We had a good chat. Of course, I did not go into Penny’s and my own marital woes. (Although the topic of divorce had come up at a counseling session, I had shot it down. The topic had not yet resurfaced at that point… although it was heavy on my mind.)
I can’t remember if I told Penny the news about her brother or not; he had said I should, but I think I waited to allow the possibility that someone else would tell her, instead. I think I may have eventually told her, anyway. What I do know is that I did tell her I learned about it on FB, once the subject came up.
I think that’s what convinced her to join FB — the fact that I knew more about what her brothers were up to than she did, all because I was on FB and she wasn’t.
We have had many many friends announce their impending singlehood on FB, many of whom she has (or had) not yet friended as of the time of the announcement. I’ve neglected to keep her apprised of all this split-up-itude, mostly because I didn’t want to encourage that line of thinking. Of course, now we’re there, too. So much for that idea.
I’ve been watching as friends keep changing their relationship status. “Single.” “In a Relationship.” “Single.” “In a Relationship.” Oh, just cut it out.
I think FB needs to add a few new stati for relationships. They currently have “Single,” “In a Relationship,” “Engaged,” “Married,” “It’s Complicated,” “In an Open Relationship”, and “Widowed.”
How about, “Serial Dating?” Or, “Playing the Field?”
They should also have, “Frigid.”
And, “Men/Women Suck!”
I think the “Married” status should be available in three sizes:
With a tip of the hat to Leah (who inspired an upcoming post on the subject with a comment she posted to an earlier entry), I also suggest Facebook add: “Having an Affair.”
Of course, there’s “Divorced,” and “Prepping for a Divorce.” But, there should also be, “Pussywhipped” and “On the Rebound.”
Since, it seems to me, the whole point of posting your relationship status on FB is to let people know whether you’re available or not, why not trash the current labels and just go with these?
I take heart in the comments that Nicki has been generous enough to share here, and they inspire me to think that, even given the likelihood of me and Penny getting divorced, my ideal Facebook Relationship Status would be this: