Happy Anniversary – My “Perfect” Life
All you married couples, have you ever felt the pressure? You know what pressure I mean, the pressure for a “perfect” relationship. And “perfect” is defined in many different ways by many different sources. It starts when we are very young, watching all the Disney movies where the characters find their “one true love” and live “happily ever after”. Every young girl grows up looking for her knight in shining armor to sweep her off her feet. The pressure continues to be applied by romance novels, romantic comedies, TV sitcoms, reality TV like the Bachelor, and every other form of media you can think of.
By the time we are young adults we’ve been convinced that there is one true “soulmate” out there for us and like Jerry Maguire we want the one person that “completes us”. Once we meet that special someone our attention turns to the “perfect” proposal (captured on video and spread over all forms of social media), the “perfect” wedding with the “perfect” dress, etc., etc., etc. As newlyweds we expect every day to be filled with romance and excitement and adventure and passion. As we live our lives and experience the reality of hardships and struggles, the “perfect” relationship continues to be thrown in our face by all our friends on Facebook who have better houses, better vacations, better kids, better cars, better, better, better.
We live our lives buying into this illusion of the “perfect” relationship, wondering what is wrong with us or with our spouse. We might even start playing the game ourselves, presenting our own relationship as some fairy tale story where every day is better than the last. Unfortunately reality will eventually overwhelm the illusion and that is when many people quit, get divorced, and start looking for someone else…their new true soulmate that actually completes them…this time…not like last time…it will be different…you’ll see.
19 years ago, on August 2, 1997, Kristine and I were married in Livonia, MI. Over the last 19 years I’ve learned a great deal about the “perfect” relationship and I’d like to share my insights. Let me start with a little transparency, at the risk of TMI, and shed some light on Kristine’s knight in shining armor.
- I’m pretty disgusting. For example, I can go for a long run in 90 degree heat with 65% humidity and be perfectly content not showering for the rest of the day. I know some of you gagged when you read that.
- I’m pretty sure I’ve got ADHD. At any given moment I’ll have 5 or 6 projects going that I’m “really, really excited about” and I’ll usually complete at least two of them. Kristine is constantly putting up with my “passion of the week”. I’m like a squirrel on crack.
- I sure can be a big moody baby. I’ll be going along all happy go lucky and one thing won’t go my way and I can turn into a little spoiled brat.
- I’m a bit of a control freak. And when I say “a bit” I mean I really, really, really like to be in control. You can all imagine how much fun that is to live with.
Now I could go on and on, but you get the picture. I could also list just as many of Kristine’s more “charming” characteristics that are such a joy to live with (sarcasm intended), but I’ve already told you I’ve been married 19 years so I’m not stupid enough to do that. In addition to listing some difficult personality traits, I could tell of fights and arguments and struggles and sin and selfishness and bitterness and all the other experiences that make up a marriage with any mileage behind it. But with all that being said, we still have the “perfect” relationship and let me define that for you.
Our relationship is perfect because no matter how bad the fight or how big the disagreement, I know that even if we have to walk away for a bit that we will come back together and work through it. It is perfect, not because every day is warm and fuzzy but because every day is filled with the little sacrifices that demonstrate love.
I see perfection when Kristine takes a deep sigh and cleans my crumbs off the counter even though she’s asked me a thousand times to clean up after myself. I notice perfection when she’s had a rough and chaotic day and I stop what I’m doing to do the dishes and sweep the floor because I know that those two things will bring a sense of order back to her life. The perfect relationship is when we laugh during the mundane routines of life and we turn a trip to the grocery store with no kids into a “romantic” date night.
Our relationship is perfect because we are learning to let go of ridiculous expectations and show each other grace. Our relationship is perfect because when I look back over 19 years I see failure and sorrow and disappointment and frustration, but most of all I see growth. Our relationship is perfect because Kristine loves God more than she loves me. Our relationship is perfect because I love God more than I love her. Our relationship is perfect because we are committed to Christ and to each other no matter what comes our way.