Ruth Longoria-Kingsland and her husband, Mark, celebrated their 7-year wedding anniversary on Thursday.
They met online and talked for months over the phone before Mark came out to California from Illinois to meet Ruth for her birthday.
“It was one of those love at first sight things,” she told Healthline. “I looked in his eyes and that was it.”
They continued their long distance relationship and were eventually married in Southern California at a park overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
Longoria-Kingsland still loves the way her husband smiles and the little things he does because he knows they make her happy. He goes to church with her. He’s her biggest fan.
Those little things accumulating over seven years of marriage gave Longoria-Kingsland plenty to post to Facebook during the 7-day Love Your Spouse Challenge, which encourages married couples to share photos that illustrate, as the name suggests, why you love your spouse.
“I did the challenge because I believe in marriage, and I think it is important to celebrate it,” she said. “I waited most of my life to marry someone because I wanted to marry the person I truly wanted to share the rest of my life with.”
Sharing all aspects of your life is the cornerstone of marriage. Now with social media so prevalent in today’s society, sharing parts of your marriage online is often part of it.
But why feel the need to take something so private and make it public for a week?
Doesn’t showing your spouse love and affection privately have more meaning than posts on social media?
Why not keep some things private?
Rhonda Richards-Smith, a psychotherapist and relationship expert in Los Angeles, says people can have mixed feelings about digital public affection.
Some spouses may participate as a way to connect with their spouse during the workday, or merely to convey to others that "all is well," she said.
“In many instances, participants have been challenged publicly to participate, which may put some pressure on them to thoughtfully determine whether or not they will participate,” Richards-Smith told Healthline. “Does opting out of the challenge mean you don't love your spouse? Absolutely not.”
Some took the challenge in jest to point out that marriage isn’t always Hallmark card-worthy bliss.
Melissa Bowers, who writes on michiforniagirl.com and other sites, didn’t post about refusing to participate in the challenge in the typical manner. Instead, the couple illustrated the realities of marriage, including, fighting, getting lost on the road, raising kids, and how date night has turned into taking naps.
Marriage, Bowers wrote, “is not just a glittery fairy-tale.”
“Marriage is hard. Marriage takes work. Marriage is a choice you make every day, not just one sun-soaked, euphoric wedding day, and it is a whole host of other clichés that are only overused because they are so, so accurate,” she said.
Sharing for the sake of marriage?
Others, some experts speculate, may be doing it not just to celebrate their marriage, but the idea of marriage in general.
Monte Drenner, a licensed mental health counselor practicing in Florida, says couples have many reasons for participating in the Love Your Spouse Challenge.
Many, he says, see marriage as a dying institution and are attempting to keep it alive.
“Others see their own marriage as dying and are trying to breathe life back into it by sharing fond and positive memories from the past,” Drenner told Healthline. “Others are proud of their accomplishment of being married for multiple years to the same partner and participate to give hope to other marriages that may be struggling.”
Struggling marriage or not, some experts say spending the time together every day could be enough to break up a routine.
Dr. Doug Weiss, executive director of Heart to Heart Counseling Center, says the Love Your Spouse Challenge is a positive thing for couples, especially if they chose to post a new photo every day.
“Any time couples do anything together, whether it's cooking, shopping, playing Pokémon Go, or posting photos on social media to keep up with a challenge, it's all good,” he told Healthline. “Smiling once a day for seven days straight with your spouse is a great way to bond and spice up the routine. Showing that love can still be done in the 21st century — with all of our added technologies and social media pressures — is a great thing for couples everywhere.”
Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D., (aka "Dr. Romance") psychotherapist, and author of “How to be Happy Partners: Working It Out Together,” says the challenge allows couples a chance to share good feelings without feeling like they’re bragging.
“Any time couples remind each other of their good times and positive moments, it’s helpful to their relationship,” she told Healthline. “Even if only one partner is on social media, it can give the relationship a little lift, because the one partner is reminded of the good times.”
That’s what the Love Your Spouse Challenge meant to Longoria-Kingsland, mainly the excitement of reliving the adventures they’ve had together.
“Pictures are good like that, they can be slipped in a drawer, old photo album, or even in Facebook archives, but when you pull them out and look at them they manage to bring back a whole slew of memories that couldn't possibly fit on the back of the photo,” she said.