I became a bit incredulous yesterday when a woman on Twitter proclaimed that her marriage was “perfect” once she found a compatible partner. You see, not only do I not believe in perfection (except in the obvious exception of the first sip of hot coffee on a cold morning), I don’t trust it.
Sometimes perfection is a cover.
In many ways, my first marriage was perfect: we rarely disagreed, we shared many views and ideas and we worked together seamlessly. But underneath that facade was a husband who was playing a role and a wife too afraid to turn on the stage lights.
Sometimes perfection is a phase.
In the early stages of a relationship, it is completely normal to place your partner on a pedestal and to casually whitewash over any red flags (or even areas of discord). It’s easy to be perfect when reality hasn’t had time to intrude upon fantasy.
Sometimes perfection is boring.
There’s a reason that artists add a jarring element to their work and writers give their protagonists a flaw. Perfection isn’t interesting. It doesn’t hold our attention or stimulate our thoughts. It demands nothing of us and offers little contrast to prompt gratitude and attention.
And sometimes perfection is protection.
It’s scary to truly accept your partner as an individual with his or her own views, perceptions and decisions. It’s terrifying to see that no marriage, no matter how seemingly perfect, is infallible. It’s much nicer to see your vessel as sink-proof rather than acknowledge the weakness inherent in its construction.
Perfection is illusion.
None of us are perfect in our own right. And when you join two together in a day-to-day venture with long-reaching goals? That imperfection can easily be amplified. Marriage is not a fairy tale. Happily ever after is not a conclusion; it is a choice.
But that doesn’t mean that they should be a source of constant struggle or endless fear.
There is a wide span between dysfunctional and perfect.
A world between bad and flawless.
Aim to be there.
But that’s not the end game.
It’s just the beginning of a relationship that requires intention, attention and adaptation.
I don’t want a perfect marriage.
I want a marriage that encourages two imperfect people to become better.
I don’t want a husband that always agrees with me.
Sure, it’s nice to hear that you’re right. It’s validating to have somebody echo your perspectives and pat you on the back for your insight. But it’s also limiting. If you surround yourself with “yes men,” you will never have your assumptions challenged or be forced to confront your own incorrect beliefs and conclusions.
I want to be called out on my B.S. Not because it feels good, but because it forces me to face it. I want to have to defend my thoughts. Not because I always seek debate, but because it requires that I think about a topic rationally and thoroughly. I want to hear other perspectives. Not because I always agree, but because seeing all sides of a thing adds to understanding.
I want a husband that always believes in me.
Although I don’t want a husband that is a sycophantic parrot who agrees with my every utterance, I do want a spouse that believes in me. That sees my potential even when he disagrees with my approach. That trusts that my intentions are sound even when my tactics may be less than ideal. That sees past the noise of the moment and sees the person beneath.
I want a husband that believes in me even though I am far from perfect and that believes in our marriage even when that marriage requires work.
I don’t want a partner to complete me.
I am whole on my own, thank you very much. One of the ironies of a good relationship is that it starts when neither partner needs the other. I’ve lived the life where I experienced a constant fear of losing my spouse. And I don’t want to ever live that again.
I don’t want a person that molds to my every weakness, filling in the areas where I lack. I don’t want somebody that always takes over when I am lacking, shifting all of the burden onto his shoulders. I don’t want dependence. I want interdependence.
I want a partner that complements me.
I want a partner who shares a life vision and philosophy with me. Who has the same overall goals even when the approach may differ. I want my husband to model ways of improving my weaknesses and act as a cheerleader and coach to help me strengthen those areas. I want to do the same for my spouse, not enabling but encouraging.
I want a partner that does the jobs I don’t enjoy or that don’t match my skills. But I also want my partner to teach me how to do them. Even if I never excel, at least I know that I am capable.
I don’t want a relationship that always makes me feel comfortable.
It’s nice to be comfortable. There’s a reason most of us live in conditioned spaces furnished with upholstered pieces. It’s relaxing. But it’s also limiting. Because when you are too comfortable, you become afraid of change.
And change is inevitable.
Growth is optional.
Our adult relationships are often the place where we play out and hopefully resolve the wounds of our childhoods. Common themes of abandonment, codependency and addiction often follow us into our marriages, forcing us to confront uncomfortable truths.
We don’t learn when we’re comfortable. But we also don’t learn when we’re panicked.
I want a relationship that makes me feel safe.
I want a relationship where I feel safe. Not just physically, but emotionally. Where I feel like I won’t be shunned for stating my feelings and I feel able to express my emotions. Where it is understood that a disagreement does not mark the end and that a different view does not represent a different intention.
I want a relationship that may not always be the upholstered chair but that is always a sanctuary to return to. Where I know I’m okay even though I may be a little uncomfortable.
I don’t want a partnership where I never have to compromise my choices.
It’s unrealistic to believe that two people can coexist without some compromise. Whether it be the color on the walls or the number of children, there will be times when one or both partners have to adjust their desires. When the good of the marriage is more important than the good of the individual.
I want a partnership where sometimes my spouse caves in to my desires. And when sometimes I have to subdue mine for his sake. Part of playing nicely is learning how to share.
I want a partnership where I never compromise my core self and values.
But I also want a partnership where I feel at peace and connected to myself. Where I hold true to my values and basic beliefs. Where I am not lost under the weight of the marriage, but serve as one of the foundations of it.
I don’t want a marriage that is perfect.
I don’t want a perfect marriage. A perfect marriage doesn’t have the ability to grow and change as life changes around it. It doesn’t serve to challenge its participants and teach them how to improve. A perfect marriage is a risky marriage; there is no practice in facing adversity from within. When a perfect marriage fails to be perfect, it fails.
I want a marriage that accepts imperfections and grows and adapts. And that encourages me to do the same.
I want a marriage that accepts me as I am. I want a marriage that challenges me. I want a marriage that is exciting and a little uncertain. I want a marriage that requires attention to grow. I want a marriage that looks different in ten years than it does today. I want a marriage that adapts and keeps me on my toes.
I want a marriage that is real.
And real is rarely perfect.
As for the woman on Twitter with the perfect marriage?
I ended the conversation by saying that I am happy for her.
And I am.
I just hope that she doesn’t get cut too deeply if that perfections shatters.