Don’t lose hope, because it’s possible to turn imperfections into authentic advantages for your relationship.
I got married thinking I would find true happiness. The loneliness of my younger years was finally going to come to an end. With my husband — a young and very caring man when we were dating — I was convinced we were the most marvelous couple in the world. I was sure that we would share everything: our hopes, our thoughts, our projects, our faith. Now I feel very disappointed … It is important to tell young people that marriage is not paradise … What I found was not what I had dreamed of.
This account reflects a frequent reaction in husbands or wives after the initial excitement of marriage wears off.
Why is it so complicated?
Certainly there are times I’ve heard different words: “I got married thinking that it would be fine, but it was much better than I expected!” or “I got married with my eyes closed and I don’t regret it.”
However, the evidence points to a fact we must accept: the perfect marriage does not exist. The human heart never says “It’s good enough!” Love promises fusion, but the couple is still made up of two different people, with a wall of differences between them. There is the promise of sharing, of dialogue, but the day-to-day weighs down on us. There is the promise that the other will always be available, but the other is a free being who belongs, first, to him or herself. There is the promise of knowing our loved one, but they remain a mystery with an inner dimension that belongs only to God. There is the promise of happiness, but sickness comes, and the decline in desire. We say “for always,” but hanging over our head is Damocles’ sword of death. The couple is inevitably disappointed, even if it’s just a little bit.
There are several reasons for this dissatisfaction: the perfectionism that puts the bar too high, the myth that the other will completely fulfill all our needs, the myth of fusion where the couple dreams of a marvelous, conflict-free union, the idealization of the couple blinded by the discovery of love, etc. Indeed, the considerable role that the imaginary plays in the marital project explains the disappointments in the life as a couple. Even though the couple says they are realistic and clear-thinking, there is always a secret hope of being a couple that is “different from the rest” … united in relationship to and against it all, facing the challenges of time wearing things down.
How can we deal with the monotony of everyday life?
To manage this inherent dissatisfaction, first we need to stop being surprised by it. Imperfection is part of the human condition, in every aspect of it, and love does not escape this finiteness of the human being. Accepting our own limits, and the limits of the other, means abandoning the dreams of adolescence.
Becoming an adult means managing these imperfections, understanding that true perfection, true greatness, consists precisely in living the daily monotony: going to work, filling up the fridge, cleaning the house. Then it is important to avoid certain temptations, like dreaming of a place where the grass grows greener or making comparisons (“If only I had a husband like yours …”), or negating anything positive and marvelous about life, or simple and directly giving up.
Imperfections can become a good thing
Above all, it is imperative to give a positive connotation to the imperfection in order to see what is positive and useful about it. An imperfection can become a vital push that forces us to advance, to improve. It can instantly yank us out of our monotony: “If my husband were perfect, I’d get bored!” says his wife. Once accepted, the imperfection allows us to see the other as they really are and not as an unreal prince or princess. And knowing that, just as they are, they are still worth it.
It is inevitable that the other will never be able to nullify that absolute level of anguish, that longing for God that is at the base of all hearts. If we ask for too much love, we unavoidably end up disappointed. However, love—with all its vicissitudes, its ups and downs, and its weaknesses, but also with its charms and treasures—is exactly what human beings need to polish and give shape to their heart, insatiable because we are destined, one day, to be united with the absolute Love.
Father Denis Sonet
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