I always used to think that I knew what the "perfect marriage" was. And I could point it out in various couples that I knew. Because somehow I guess I thought I was the best judge of who had it all together? I took cues from their behavior...little details to make my own marriage that much better. And while I will be forever thankful for those wonderful little hints that have indeed strengthened my own relationship, I've since come to learn that what shows on the outside is not what is always on the inside. And that actually, a "perfect marriage" is nothing like I thought it to be.
Last Valentines Day was emotionally tough. And before you jump to any conclusion that Bryan and I were struggling, let me assure you that as a couple, we were just fine and enjoyed a sweet holiday together. But at that same time, we were being rocked to our core as we watched many of our close friends struggling in their marriages. It seemed like every few weeks we'd hear another shocking story... many from those same couples who I had labeled as having that ideal "perfect marriage." I was stunned and I was heartbroken and I shed countless tears....tears for them, tears for myself. How could this be, I wondered over and over again.
And as I put in a lot of prayer and thought, I came to realize that a "perfect marriage" is not all flowers, butterflies and rainbows. And lest you think I was too idealistic or naive...I was fully aware that love and good marriages didn't always run smooth. But a perfect marriage also isn't always holding hands or flirty and sweet comments, romantic weekends without kids, sharing the same hobbies. While those are things that will certainly strengthen a relationship, a "perfect marriage" is more real and raw than that. It's the marriage that goes through serious ups and downs...the couple that comes out bruised and bloodied on the other side of a trial meant to break you up, still stubbornly determined to cling to each other. A "perfect marriage" is not shiny storybook. It's gritty real life.
I've never doubted in all our nearly 20 years of marriage that Bryan loves me. But when I look deep into his eyes and see just how much he truly adores me...I know it comes from a long life together of determinedly clinging together through not only the good times but also and especially during our fair share of the really hard.
Is our marriage perfect? A few years ago my answer may have been no. Good and satisfying with a lot of love and happiness, yes. But "perfect"...according to my unrealistic criteria at the time, I'm not sure we completely measured up. "Perfect" was a pretty high level to attain. How ignorant I was. Marriage is hard. And unlike other goals, you don't really ever get to a place where you can lean back and say with pride, "There! I did it....mission accomplished!" A "perfect marriage" is always going to be a work in progress. Real and raw alongside of the butterflies and flowers, ups and downs working in tandem in our every day life. But with that criteria in mind...I would humbly say yes.