Honesty is Still The Best Policy: Marriage Sucks

A woman stood up, and introduced herself.  We all knew her anyway.  Tracy and her family, including her husband – a chief resident at the hospital – had been attending the same church as us for a while now.

She said very plainly, “I would really appreciate some prayer for our family.  Our marriage has sucked lately.  We have been fighting a lot, and it’s just been hard.”

Blunt. To the point. And…

… refreshing…

Here this couple was.  Leaders in the church and the hospital.  A role-model family that most of us looked up to, particularly being a medical student at the time.

How should I process what she was saying?  They were struggling?  Was residency going to be that bad?

The Struggle is Real

When Tracy told us that she and her husband were struggling, this was the first time in a long time that someone was so brutally honest about their life that it hurt to listen.

The emotional response was strange.

It was a similar feeling to how you feel when you watch a movie that is so embarrassing for the main character, you can barely keep your eyes on the screen.  You just want it to go away. Of course, that is until the end when the resolution makes you feel all warm and fuzzy.

Except, this time, there was no warm and fuzzy.  This was real life.

Just cold hard reality.

The raw honesty was like reading a post from RMD.  Her posts tug at your heart strings, and then teach you a simple and honest reality about being human.  The reason it resonates so loudly is that you can relate to it, too.

As someone once told me, “Humans will be human.”  As such, we all suck sometimes.  We are all terrible at something. All of us are addicted to something or know someone that we love who is.

When Tracy shared her story about battling for her marriage, I didn’t judge her.  My wife and I could relate. Marriage and raising kids are two of the hardest things – and the most rewarding – that I’ve ever experienced.

To Err is Human

At the end of the day, being human is hard.

Let’s not feign perfection. Let’s stop pretending that life is perfect. And, by God, we all need to stop judging other people that are struggling. If you haven’t been the struggling one yet, you will be someday.

It’s okay to celebrate when life is good, but we need to be honest when it’s not, too.  Our facebook posts, tweets, instagram pictures, and real-life conversations should reflect both the mountains and the valleys.

Being a pretender doesn’t do anyone out there any good. Including yourself.

Instead, let’s speak the truth. Let’s tell it how it is.

When someone asks how you are doing, and you’ve had a tough time, don’t say, “I’m good. How are you?”  Tell them how you are feeling.  People’s reactions might surprise you when you tell them “I’m really struggling right now.”

They’ll probably tell you that they’ve been having a hard time too, or ask how they can help walk along side you in this journey called life.

Back to the Story

Tracy and her family ended up being fine.  They got some help, and hashed it out using some counseling with friends and some prayer from the church.

That would not have happened, though, if they weren’t open and honest about their struggles.  Often times, people in medicine view asking for help as weakness.

I am here to tell you today that the weak thing to do when you need help is to NOT ask for it.  We are all in this struggle together.  People can’t help you, if they don’t know that you need it.

Take Home

Life is hard.  It can be tough sometimes.  There are people out there who care and want to come along side you to help you with your struggles.

Remember, it is perfectly fine (and expected) to ask for help!  You, your family, and your patients deserve a healthy you!

And when you do ask for help, you might find – like Tracy – that there are a lot of people just like you who are struggling, too.  And they’ll probably lend a helping hand.  All you have to do is open up.

Have you ever experienced something like Tracy’s story? Do you struggle yourself?  How did you help, or get help?  Leave a comment below.

TPP

12 thoughts on “Honesty is Still The Best Policy: Marriage Sucks

  1. Love this post TPP.

    You are right that because of social media it seems like everyone is living amazing lives as they only post pictures of amazing experiences or great meals. It seems like they are living the perfect life which then makes you question why your life is not going that way (really gives you a false measuring stick you are comparing yourself too).

    Last year a friend of mine told me that he was filing for divorce and it blew my mind because none of it seemed to mesh with what was going on with his social media prior before, it looked like the picture perfect couple, but in truth he was not doing well in a bad marriage.

    When I was going through my awful divorce I sort of withdrew from everything and did not want to tell even my close friends about it because I was ashamed. That made the beginning journey that much harder. When I finally did open up to a few close friends, the support I received was amazing and made the journey that much easier.

    • Yeah, I’ve had similar experiences with people in “real life” versus their “social media life.” It always blows my mind. I am not asking people to air out their dirty laundry, but I think there is a whole lot of people for whom it makes matters worse as they think everyone else has it put together while they don’t.

      I agree that opening up to close friends and having a network you can depend on and trust to talk to about this is super important. My college roommate taught me that. One of the many lessons I learned from him.

      TPP

  2. Social media is double edged sword.

    It’s a great medium to share ideas and connect with people. But then it can also lead to the extremes of judgment. While I think the mountains and valleys of emotions should be displayed to give people and accurate snapshot of life and to show people that they are not alone, I don’t think it’s the best medium for someone to seek help if needed.

    I think if somebody was truly seeking help, real life friends and community are more vitally important and can generate more impactful change/help.

    I am guilty myself for highly curating my best experiences on my social media accounts, especially instagram. This is mostly because I want to spread inspiration and positivity to others.

    Knowing that most people are like me who curate the best moments of their lives in social media, I take everything with a grain of salt. 🙂

    Great post!

    • Yeah, taking everything with a grain of salt is definitely the way to go. You have to have a “Social media filter” through which you view all of that stuff.

      I am just a proponent of going through both the mountains and the valleys with people. Social media makes that tough as people pretend to only have “mountain moments” and no “valley moments.” Not saying everyone needs to air it out there all the time, but pretending is no good either.

      TPP

  3. Ah, social media. It’s hard to not get sucked into the comparison game when everyone is out there apparently #livingmybestlife. I’ve been a little more active on Instagram recently because it’s a better forum for all my pictures, so I’m in the thick of it, drowning in rainbows and butterflies.

    I’m not going to lie – it makes me question whether or not I should publish most of my posts because I don’t want to be that person bringing down the room. But I do it anyway because of the “thank you’s” for being real (so thanks for the shout out!).

    Ultimately, the first step is admitting you’re struggling, but the second is to find your tribe who is going to support you. There’s nothing worse than opening up to someone who isn’t willing to walk with you – that can actually make the isolation much, much worse.

    The internet can be a double edged sword – it can foster a sense of community, but it’s still not quite the same as having a heart-to-heart in person. There is still a role for it, but when people reach out to me through the blog, I typically tell them to also reach out to their existing support networks.

    • You should definitely keep posting on these tough topics. It keeps life real and allows others to see the ups and the downs. Now, its just as important to celebrate the victories (And not dwell only in the valleys), but sharing both messages is important.

      I completely agree that an in-person network is critical to people’s success in tough times.

      TPP

  4. Very poignant post. I can relate very well. I’ve always argued that people only share the bright side of their life on social media. But like you point here in this post, we are all broken. Every single one of us. We all have our hills and valleys and it’s ok to say you’re not doing ok. Healing comes when we’re this honest about life and willing not to judge people. Beautiful post TPO

    • Thanks! And completely agree. We all need to recognize that we are humans and as humans we tend to err. We don’t need to celebrate our errors, but we do need to recognize them, admit to them, and work through them together.

      Thanks for the encouragement,

      TPP

  5. Good stuff Doc, and I agree about social media of course. Everyone is realizing it and I think the backlash has started. But like any addiction it will be hard for us (in this case half of humanity) to stop.

    Brene Brown basically says be vulnerable, which solves most of your problems. I recommend her books,.

    • Completely agree. It’s gonna take some time for society to adapt from this problem (if we ever do). It’s necessary to change the landscape, or – like I have – to ignore it.

      I rarely look at any personal social media accounts that I used to have. All I have now are The Physician Philosopher social media accounts that hopefully stand to help with solid and honest truth.

  6. Great post TPP.
    I enjoy reading your blog because you are a positive person but you also don’t sugar coat things. You tell it like it is and your posts are highly relatable.
    Marriage and kids are hard. Being in a sandwich generation w/ older parents makes it harder. There are ups and downs and I’ve had my share of struggles. But I think sharing the struggles help other people a great deal because they see that they are not alone. Keep up the good fight.

    • Thanks, MD. I really appreciate that. Truly.

      I have the same personality in real life. It either makes people love me, or hate me 🙂 When someone asks my opinion on something I always ask them if they want to hear the truth, or not. If they do, I am a great person to ask – gonna tell you the truth either way (good or bad). If not, I just keep my mouth shut 🙂

      Having older parents would make that tough! But keeping it real while sharing our struggles is super important. Helps everyone realize that we are all humans in this mad journey together.

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