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If you're married and on Facebook, there's a good chance you've been nominated by a friend to participate in the wildly popular "love your spouse challenge."
The challenge encourages its participants to post a week's worth of photos to Facebook, along with a post about a special memory they have shared with their spouse, or a sweet anecdote about why they love their partner.
But the Facebook phenomenon is inspiring some moms to speak out about the grittier moments in marriage — from arguing over directions to staying up all night to care for a sick kid — saying it's those moments that end up making them feel most connected to their spouse.
Danielle Guenther is a lifestyle photographer who has created two photo series showing the realities of pregnancy and parenthood. Seeing friends post glossed-over moments as a part of the challenge inspired her to tackle what she calls "common moments" in marriage, creating the first image in what she hopes will become a series of "real marriage" photos.
"I'm digging the idea of the 'love your spouse challenge' and everything it embraces — love," Guenther told TODAY Parents. "But what about those moments when you're bickering or disagreeing and those loving memories are a thing of the past?"
"I think there's so much humor in those common moments," Guenther continued. "It's awful when you're in the disagreement, but most of the time, you look back and laugh at how incredibly infuriated both of you — or at least one of you — were."
Guenther says she hopes to take more "real marriage" photos, in hopes of capturing the honest moments that make up a marriage, and ultimately lead to a stronger relationship.
"Living with someone day in and day out can be incredibly fulfilling, but often makes your head explode at times and there's humor in that," said Guenther.
"The real challenge is knowing that there is more to life than perfect pictures and anniversary gifts," Masony wrote in the post. "The real challenge is knowing that the person who is sleeping next to you, snoring like a Mack truck, has your back no matter what. They are there for you even when you yourself want to give up."
Masony has been married for 13 years, and says she shared her feelings about the challenge because she believes in being real with her readers about marriage and parenting, making sure they know they are not alone in their daily struggles.
"It is important to remember that it is not a competition, and that marriage itself is the real challenge," said Masony. "Perfection can be the undoing of a relationship, so we do not strive for that."
Melissa Bowers, who blogs at Michifornia Girl, wrote a post that went viral earlier this month titled, "I cannot in good conscience participate in the 'love your spouse challenge.'"
Bowers speaks candidly about the struggles she has encountered in her own marriage, and expresses concern that those sharing "perfect" photos in the challenge are only revealing the best parts of their lives, rather than being real about the struggles they face.
"We have the airbrushed wedding pictures and the beaming, sparkly selfies," Bowers wrote in the post. "But I’d have to post something beyond our best five percent, because that’s not really how our union looks a lot of the time."
To show how her marriage often looks, the mom of two posted a series of photos showing marital struggles, such as her husband having to work late while the kids are driving her crazy, and the exhaustion parents feel each night once the kids are in bed.
"When this particular challenge started trending, everyone's photos were posed and 'sparkly,' as I put it in the post," said Bowers. "I actually really enjoyed seeing my friends' pictures — especially the throwbacks to when they first met, so young and in love. But it quickly became clear that no one has photos of the other stuff, and for good reason."
Bowers says she and her husband, like most couples, have hit their share of "rough patches," and wanted to show that real marriages are not always polished and perfect the way they are portrayed on social media.
"I wanted my post to serve as a lighthearted, comforting, gentle reminder that imperfection is more than okay: it can be celebrated, too," said Bowers.
"We shouldn't compare our lives to anyone else's, but we do — consciously and subconsciously, no matter our age, and we always have. Magazines and the media are forever under fire for showcasing stick-thin, Photoshopped, ninety-pound supermodels, and I liken social media to that. In essence, we are all promoting a 'reality' that is unachievable."