Imperfect Perfection

Malia pictureOne of my favorite features of NPR is the essay series called, This I Believe. Last week, an essay by a journalist from Athens, Ohio caught my attention. The title of the essay, A Marriage That’s Good Enough by Corinne Colbert, was intriguing to me since I try to regularly write about marriage here. I had to read it through a few times to really let what she was saying sink in. (I encourage you to go read it especially since the rest of this post probably won’t make much sense unless you do!). My first read through left me feeling a little sad and a little sorry for the author. But as I read it through a few more times and as I read some comments about the piece at Sk*rt, I was impressed more and more with the wisdom in her words and the maturity she brings to her marriage. While the circumstances and dynamics of my own marriage are quite different from Colbert’s, I can see how there is a certain truth to the settling she writes about.

I tried to think about how I would define a perfect marriage. Surprisingly, all the things I kept coming up with seemed so far-fetched and ridiculous. For instance, how exactly does one achieve a perfect level of communication? Being able to read each others thoughts may initially sound appealing since it takes the guess work out many scenarios but if you really think it through, do you actually want someone (besides the Almighty) to have access to all your thoughts? I certainly don’t. And always saying what’s on your mind leaves little room for discretion and tact. Or how do you define the perfect sex life? The answer for one spouse can be vastly different for the other. Of course, in perfection you’d find the solution to fit both needs but still…I think that would get boring after awhile.

The sixth thing I want to teach my children is that relationships, whether they be couples, friends, co-workers, church family, etc., are not perfect. There is no “happily ever after”, there is no fairytale (because if there is, where’s my team of mice to help with the dishes and the laundry??). What there is are flawed, imperfect, humans who must “settle” for each other and show each other grace and live by “The Golden Rule”. Those who constantly chase this elusive concept called perfection only end up getting burned out and disappointed with others and even more so with themselves.

In almost twelve years of marriage, I’m beginning to realize that all the imperfect things about me and David have been woven to together to create a marriage that works but is most certainly not…perfect.


Filed under by Malia, love & marriage

5 responses to “Imperfect Perfection

  1. Pingback: Nashville is Talking » defining the subjective

  2. Very interesting–I totally agree with you–and what a healthy thing to teach (by example!) our children. I suppose I might rather use the word accept rather than settle–but that would just be a personal prefernce. Two imperfect people, cannot make a perfect relationship. We might as well be honest about that!

  3. I think it’s ESSENTIAL that we teach our kids that! I couldn’t agree more!!! Excellent post.

  4. Lisa

    I enjoyed the post, and the essay you linked to. Her essay resonated with me right away, and I didn’t feel sad for her, like you did. Of course, I don’t have the same experience in my marriage that you do. I won’t go into details, but I had to come to the realization that I can be happy in this imperfect marriage, and I needed to quit hoping for “the greener side” to come to me. I was always nitpicking & looking for ways to make my husband the bad guy — it took a lot of growing up for me to realize I had just as much improving to do as my husband did! Out of seven and a half years, the last year has been our best year together yet.

  5. I read it. And yeah, at first I thought “well, that’ kinda sucks” then I realized she’s right. We romanticize marriage in this society. I think that’s what gets a lot of us into trouble. We think what we have is never good enough…but in reality it is. There are always ways to make your marriage better, and stronger….but enjoying what you have , a.k.a. settling, is very important.

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