(I okayed it with Sean first, and he graciously offered this title).
Does it sometimes mildly annoy you to see all the perfect pictures of happy-to-the-moon-and-back couples everywhere you look on Facebook and/or Instagram?
My heart is not made of stone (although sometimes I don’t feel it and I wonder) and I am genuinely happy for the people that are really happy.
But what those perfect pictures created in me is a sense that no one could relate to, understand, or empathize with Sean and me if they knew we occasionally face trouble here in paradise (shocking, I know).
Those pictures seem to imply that everyone (but me) is infinitely loving, forgiving, and mature. They wake up and go to bed at the same time every day wearing big contented smiles on their blissful faces with perfect skin.
A friend once shared that if she could turn back time, maybe she would have married a better man than her husband. And objectively speaking, her husband is a very nice guy.
I used to have those thoughts here and there myself (Sean says he never did. Wow). But recently, I realized that I don’t think I could have found a better husband.
He would have been different, yes, but not better.
Of course, there are cases where better might mean not together. Like if there is abuse, etc. But that’s not what I’m talking about.
I am talking about expectations. Everyday life, routine, taken-from-romantic-chick-flicks expectations of each other. Or expectations from experiences with your parents, relatives, and friends.
My different-but-not-better realization pleasantly surprised me. Especially in the light of recent unfavorable weather in the abovementioned paradise.
My gratitude goes to those friends of mine (you know who you are) that chose to be respectfully and brutally honest with me about their marriages. They helped me put into perspective and understand (again) that life is tough. That no one is without issues, even the most wonderful people.
That we all make mistakes. Some very big ones, some small. But mistakes nevertheless. That there is nothing wrong with wanting a very good marriage. That our deepest hearts’ desires come from the way we are created — to love and be loved in our nakedness and unashamedness.
Can you imagine the crowd’s collective facial expression if, after exchanging passionate vows, a bride and a bridegroom went on with declaring their low expectations of one another? Professing how, in the future, they expected to treat each other with unlove and disrespect, comparing their marriage to others and wishing things were different?
Wouldn’t that be something?
Well, nuttiness like that never happens because madly in love couples never go into their marriage thinking stuff like that.
Then why does eventually this happen anyway??? Why do so many people, with time, act so unlovingly and selfishly towards each other?
I am just thinking out loud. Years ago, I was totally at a loss when people that I knew got divorced. I thought: how can you hate someone after being so in love you thought you would die?
I get them now, you see. No, I don’t hate Sean. I love him and he loves me. But with years of experience and watching other people make bad choices and us make mistakes as well, I understand how freaking complicated this all is. And how little anyone prepares you for this. And how you really don’t know what might happen in the future.
What an incredibly difficult job it is to have a (good) marriage.
For those of you intending to start a family, I know I am probably freaking you out. But, hey, listen. I am telling you this so that you can go into this insane adventure called a “committed relationship” with a sober mind and understanding that life is rough. That you will be tested and you will fail, over and over again.
But also that there is… grace. And forgiveness, and empathy, and tears of pain but also joy (I don’t know how it all works, but that’s how it is). And love that grows after you get married. And storms and harsh winters just make it stronger (I have no idea how it all happens, but it does).
And after many moons of living with your spouse, after seeing them in their best and in their worst, after laughing and sobbing together, and giving up and then hoping again together, you start to have an itsy-bitsy tiny glimpse of what real unconditional pure untamed Love is.
You are welcome.