Monday, March 10, 2008

Perfect?

A couple of days ago, I had a conversation with a friend who shared her thoughts about her relationship with her live-in boyfriend. They have been together for several years now, and are in general happy together. And now, my friend confessed, she is feeling pressured because she realizes it is time to make a decision – but she isn't quite sure he is "the perfect one".

She knows she doesn't want their relationship to drag on and on, without progressing towards marriage and family. She doesn't want to split up, either. Yet she hesitates, not knowing what she will do if her boyfriend proposes, terrified of lifetime commitment.

I think that's so terribly wrong with the way relationships "normally" work these days. Of course, I believe that having a physical relationship before you are married is wrong in the first place, but I'm not even talking about this right now.

Everything becomes a routine before a couple even reaches their honeymoon, before a true level of intimacy – the one that can only be found in marriage – is achieved. And then, disappointed, people move on to the next relationship, which proves to be just the same after some time goes by and the fireworks of novelty stop shooting into the air – the same, because there is still no real commitment, no stability and no dedication to a lifetime together.

Another friend asked me today whether I think my chatan is perfect. To which I responded that my very dear, sweet and much loved chatan, of course, has his flaws, just like me and like every other human being. I don't need perfection. I need someone who is good and right for me. Once we are married, it is a match made in heaven and we have a lifetime to develop our relationship and deepen our closeness and oneness.

People are chasing an impossible dream of "perfection", not realizing marriage isn't a ready-to-consume product you get the moment you meet your Prince Charming. True intimacy takes years and lots of hard work to develop. I don't think it depends on just how perfect and flawless your husband is. It's more in what both of you are willing to give.

33 comments:

Mrs. Bethany Hudson said...

Anna,
Beautiful post, as always. I just wanted to share a story that I think is relevant. I came to faith when my husband and I were dating in college. He had been a devout Christian since childhood, and he was very cautious not to get too deep into our relationship unless he knew that he was moving towards marriage with me. He explained to me that he was "saving himself for his wife", not just physically. Since I was new to all of this, I got very frustrated with him, saying things like, "Well, that's not fair to me. All you're interested in is this phantom wife; so why don't you just break up with me already?" Now, looking back, I can reflect on how foolish and ironic these feelings were. As it turns out, he was saving himself from me...for me!
The point of these story as it relates to your post is this: My husband had his priorities straight: First commit to honor and love your spouse...then, meet them. The commitment comes before the boy or girl. Or, as my pastor used to be fond of saying, love is what gets you to the altar (or chuppah), but loving sacrifice and commitment is what keeps the marriage together.
Blessings,
Bethany

Anonymous said...

beautiful post, anna! i so much agree. i have no doubt that you and your beloved will learn to be good and right for each other. i have been wondering, if you and he are comfortable with it, could you share with us about your dear chatan? what does he do, what are his interests, that sort of thing?
so excited for you,
magda

Green Eyes said...

Great post.

It reminds me of something I've said before, that love (or marriage) is not a gift but a treasure. We are the caretakers of a beautiful thing, not the spoiled recipients of a ready-made treat.

elena rulli said...

I couldn't agree more about commitment and working hard day after day towards oneness and intimacy.
As usual, a very good post, Anna.
Thank you for sharing it.

Terry said...

Well said, Anna. Why imperfect people wouldn't understand that there is no perfect person. Of course, I think alot of that talk is an excuse used to evadethe responsbility, challenges, and commitment of married life. When you're not married, you can just pack up and move out. Not so when ending a marriage relationship.

Michelle said...

What a wonderful post Anna! You are right that so many don't realize that marriage takes work. So many have a throw away attitude about it. The best decision that my husband and I made concerning keeping our marriage strong was that divorce is not an option for us. That means, we have to take the time to work on problems and to resolve them.

yoshi3329 said...

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Sammybunny said...

That is SUCH a wonderful post, Anna! Thank you for it!

Michelle Potter said...

As I was going to sleep last night, I was thinking about this very thing. I was thinking that dating teaches us to seek that perfect person with whom everything "just works," when really, marriage is about making things work with the person you married.

Krystyna said...

The perfection thing, seconded, thirded or n-ed! The only thing I can add from myself (apart from the fact that there are no perfect people), is that living with someone like that would be very hard for a normal, faulty person. First, I wouldn't think myself worthy of them. Second, their perfection would be irritating.

I haven't commented to congratulate you on your upcoming marriage yet. So, I wish you lots of joy and happiness both on the big day and in your future life :) Good luck to you and your Chatan!

PhDCow said...

"People are chasing an impossible dream of "perfection", not realizing marriage isn't a ready-to-consume product you get the moment you meet your Prince Charming. True intimacy takes years and lots of hard work to develop. I don't think it depends on just how perfect and flawless your husband is. It's more in what both of you are willing to give."

I couldn't agree more. Is my husband my "Prince Charming?" No and that's ok because I'm sure no Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty!

I really think it's how we're socialized, even as children. My children are really into Disney animated movies right now (Cinderella, Little Mermaid, Snow White, etc.) and I HATE that they get married and then live happily ever after. I don't want either child, especially my daughter, to think that's the end of the story. When they ask "what happened to them?" I try to give them the rest of the story.

I've been married to my husband for 8 years and it's hard work. Being "in love" is not the same as loving someone and I don't think many people understand that distinction anymore.

- Angela

AnneK said...

Once upon a time there was a man looking for a wife. He wanted a wife who is beautiful yet humble, highly educated yet willing to stay home and serve him, have the house beautiful to a fault yet be always available to him, one who would possibly be a faultless mother, proficient and flawless in every way-or in other words -PERFECT. After many years of searching he found her. He asked her to marry him. She refused.

Cos you see she was looking for the perfect husband.

Kelly said...

Very wise Anna. Part of it is that people are looking for "perfection". It wasn't until after I gave up the idea of perfection that God brought my spouse to me. Neither if us is perfect. It's all about commiting to each other. Making that choice each day to love and care for the other person before yourself.
Married 7 years this september I can say that it really is the journey. Not the end result. I KNOW my husband will always love me and I him because each day we make the CHOICE to love.
Kelly

Courtney said...

Well put Anna! Ive found that perfection only arrives in a relationship when both parties can look past eachothers flaws and love the person for who they really truly are. Only then can you call it "perfection". Hope you are well!

USAincognito said...

I never understood why people wanted to move in together before deciding to get married. You either liked the person enough TO marry them or you didn't.
Two of my friends lived together for 7 years. Last July they were married. December they divorced. Sad.

Rebekah S. said...

I couldn't agree more with you, dear Anna!! You're so right, and the cycles of dating that so many people find themselves in makes me sad, and I often feel sorry for these poor people who feel like they can't break free. And, then, even if they do break free, they oftentimes carry so much guilt with them. It's truly a really sad thing, and my heart goes out to each and every one of them.



You're so right, Anna! We cannot expect our future husbands or children to be perfect, because they won't be! At times, they will let us down, because they're sinners just like everyone else.

Great post as always!! :)

Lady-in-the-Making said...

True, true, true! Having been happily married for 21 years, I can say this is absolutely the case. You have a good head on your shoulders, Anna. I am certain God will bless your union. I am thrilled for you.

Anonymous said...

"True intimacy takes years & lots of hard work to develop". Yes, indeed. :o)

Brenda

neuropoet3 said...

Anna,
I think the way you ended this post sums the subject up perfectly:
"I don't think it depends on just how perfect and flawless your husband is. It's more in what both of you are willing to give."

This is so true - no man is perfect or flawless - everyone messes up sometimes - even the most wonderful guys. :) I mean, think about it, if we take an honest look at ourselves we'll know that we aren't perfect. :) We are all human, and all marriages are human marriages - the idea is to grow together...

~Jenny

LisaM said...

I like your point of view and how you express yourself - and I am so glad that your blog is so widely read with this wisdom. Praying your wise words continue and that you have older wise women to lean on too. :)

Jessica Denise said...

Yep. I completely agree. It breaks my heart when I see that happen, too. And it's happening more and more and more these days. I am always amazed that people choose to put up with my weird flaws, but then I remember that none of us is perfect and that grace is for those times. And love is a choice.

Karen said...

If you're really called to marriage, you can be happy with just about anyone as long as they share similar morals and beliefs. I think that is the number one thing.

ChelB said...

Hello Anna!

Congratulations on your upcoming wedding!! I'm very happy for the both of you. I'm new to your blog, also newly married (9 months), and we don't have any children yet. I do work 2 days a week (part-time) as a pre-school teacher.

This posting was excellent! : )
I 100% agree with what you wrote about how things work when 2 people are in a marriage. Bethany, the story you told about your and your husband is so sweet! It actually makes me think of my husband and what he said that was similiar when we first met. Michelle, my husband and I also made the same decision regarding divorce as well. I honestly feel that if more couples made the same agreement there would be a lot less divorces.

Lillian the Ponderer said...

"I don't need perfection. I need someone who is good and right for me." Well said Anna, while we are imperfect ourselves, how dare we desire perfection in others - apart from anything, how could we live up to the comparison.

I am glad for you that you do not have too long to wait now - just 2 weeks. I know it probably feels like it is dragging by but that at the same time you are racing round to get "everything" done, keep your focus on God and everything that needs to be done will be done.

Zeljka said...

A agree!
Zeljka

Jeannie said...

I think love and marriage are a decision you make, every morning when you wake up. Some days loving my spouse are easy, some days are harder. I know that loving me isn't always easy either. But we made a decision to get married. We make the decision to stay married every time we choose to love, even when we don't feel a lot of love.

Buffy said...

Yes, you have raised an interesting dilemna that many women (and presumably men) face: what if I'm not sure they're perfect for me?

I think sometimes Hollywood sells us this story that you meet the right person and everything immediately falls into place as you know with every fibre of your being that you are meant to be with this person who is so perfect for you, and you have an instant happy ending. Actually marriage is more like a day-by-day growth for both of you and your relationship. Of course, sometimes you know someone is definitely *wrong* for you but if you're looking for a true "soul mate" connection it takes years of being together and *working at it*.

Maggie said...

PhdCow

"Being "in love" is not the same as loving someone and I don't think many people understand that distinction anymore."

so very true. And sometimes we learn that distinction the hard way.

Anonymous said...

I was just listening to a friend at work today talk about her upcoming marriage. She and her boyfriend have lived together for several years. When I asked about how the plans were going, she said, "They are sort of on hold till we get more money. But it is really no big deal. We feel married already."

I immediately thought about you, Anna. (I read your blog daily, but never comment) I thought about how excited you are to get married and to become a wife. What a contrast. I sent some kind thoughts and a smile your way.

=) Regina

Ways of Zion said...

So true!

Sue said...

Anna:

Your opinion on this subject is spot on, as are those of your posters.

Speaking as part of a married couple who will celebrate our 22nd anniversary on May 31st, I think this is what has kept our marriage alive:

(1) A very firm commitment that divorce is an absolute last resort -- only a possibility in cases of physical abuse toward adult or children, drug, alcohol, or gambling addiction, serial adultery, or a long-term affair, where the "guilty" spouse shows no inclination to change.

(2) Realizing that marriage isn't 50/50; it's 100/100.

(3) You can choose to let your "issues" or physical, financial, or health problems bring you together or tear you apart.

(4) Don't expect perfection.

(5) Don't be afraid to seek outside help (from a religious counselor - pastor, priest, rabbi -or from a professional marriage counselor who shares your values).

(6) Keep smiling.

My .02,

Sue

Coffee Catholic said...

Did you know that when a man and woman have sex, the woman releases a chemical (oxytocin) that powerfully bonds her with her sexual partner. (It's the same hormone that bonds women to their babies...) I'll bet that this is the reason so many women stay shacked up with the same guy for so long - and then they can't seem to bring themselves to leave. Why is it that girls and women are not taught about this phisiological *fact* that would enable them to choose their lifestyle with much more insight and care?? So much for our "choice" culture...

Anonymous said...

Coffee Catholic,
I'm a young, female university student studying science. I can assure you that at least at my university, we have learnt about the effects of oxytocin. Funnily enough, oxytocin levels also increase significantly when an individual receives a prolonged massage. Last year a documentry analysing oxyytocin's effects was aired nation wide on the national broadcaster. The information is out there, but no one can force someone to listen to it. People have the intrisic right to remain ignorant.