I’m sure you’re all waiting on baited breath for the ultimate secret unveiled...the recipe for a perfect marriage. Yes, it’s quite the claim! “Perfect” is definitely an elusive little bugger! Right?? Perfect and marriage...they sort of go together like oil and water or socks with sandals in SoCal (past 1990). In other words, they just...don't. Since “perfect” is truly an unattainable pursuit, let’s maybe downgrade the target to “fulfilling”, “gratifying” or dare I tinker with “amazing”?? Oh, yes, this wheeling, dealing sort of girl will tinker!
As we all know (for some more than others) marriage is quite the puzzle. All us married folk have ridden the waves of lust, infatuation and passionate love all the way to the altar. And I know it may be unpopular to mention, but at some point we’ve likely felt that marriage was the ultimate unfair exchange; trading passion and excitement for a lifetime commitment. At some point, maybe around the second year, maybe it was 5 years, 10 or 20, one question lingered, “Is this it?”.
Now for all you who have NEVER heard your heart whisper those words or if you’re completely unwilling to admit it, I guess I’m not talking to you. Please carry on in bliss, because whatever recipe you currently have is working well enough for you, and if it’s not broken, there’s no need to try to fix it. But for the rest us, disillusionment has come a knocking (at some point). So...now what??
Throughout my nearly 12 years of marriage, disillusionment has ebbed and flowed. I entered my marriage gripping tightly to an untrue premise: “time heals all wounds”. With each passing week, month and year, I waited expectantly and then anxiously for my healing to come. But what I hadn’t been told (or maybe mature enough to understand) was that time only heals the wounds you work on. So, I married my amazing husband, truly the love of my life, while still nursing old wounds and time was doing me zero favors. In flooded disillusionment and fear.
I wondered if I’d made the wrong choice, not because my husband wasn’t right for me or because he wasn’t wonderful. It also certainly wasn’t because I didn’t love him. But after all the excitement of the wedding and the newness of our marriage dissipated, there I was...left with no distractions from myself. All the hurt from my past bubbled right back to where it had been all those years before. I wondered if I’d always feel broken and more than that, I wondered if I’d ever feel true joy and contentment in my marriage. There are only a few people who know this part of my life (now...quite a few more). But I don’t speak of it often because it was a really dark season for me and a really dark season for my marriage. Even though I’m years beyond all the hurt I felt and the hurt I caused my husband, rehashing stories like this requires either a dear friend plus a glass of wine or a considerable amount of purposefulness. Purposefulness is what I come with today. I share in hopes that my story might bring a sliver of hope, or even better, a degree of freedom to someone...anyone, who might be in crisis.
After quite A LOT of counseling and prayer and even more counseling and prayer, I felt the weight of my burdens begin to gradually (piece by piece) lift off of me. Healing was an intentional process, not the result of an instantaneous, supernatural touch, like I desperately wanted it to be.
So, I eventually got healed up (to a large degree), but that didn’t magically modify our trajectory or automatically shift us on to a bliss-filled path. We’d been focused on brokenness and healing (my healing), for so long that survival mode had become our norm. We’d forgotten how to be anything lighter. We’d forgotten how to be fun and we’d forgotten how to be in love. That was when that string of scandalous questions began to wander through my thoughts...the ones that so many of us have thought but are too ashamed to admit: “Is this it? Is this all there is? Will the rest of my married life feel this way?”
I thank God EVERYDAY that what I insisted upon was, ‘Ohhhh, Hell NO!’ I did not sign up for a lifetime of commitment and companionship at the expense of desire, passion, excitement and true connection! I understand that with time, love changes shape but I’m truly skeptical of the satisfaction level of couples who parcel out the passion, energetic love, chemistry and flirtatious fun portion of a relationship for the “early stage”, leaving only the “mature love” with commitment, kid taxiing, bill paying, companionship, habitual sex and eventually (heaven forbid) ass wiping and stocking the bathroom to the gills with Depends.
I wanted to feel vitality and life pumping through my marriage. I’m not an emotion junkie, but when it comes to love, I want to feel it! Or else what are we doing here??...we’re just friends, or roommates, or co-parents, but not “in love”.
Then finally a very pivotal conversation happened. I remember us (Adam and I) taking a long drive. It was just the two of us. So, no interrupting little voices, trickling up from the backseat to derail or frustrate the heck out of our conversation. We agreed we weren’t satisfied with the status of us; with our “status quo”. We decided to fight for each other and with all our might, fight to be better than “good”. Because on a bad day, simply “good(ish)” or “good enough” can quickly and easily deteriorate into “not good”. But if we’re aiming for amazing with every hug and every kiss and every goodbye and hello, the valleys and dips don’t seem to go quite as deep or last as long. And those valleys don’t feel quite so cold and lonely either. With that intention, slowly, over time, “amazing” just might become the new normal. And for us, amazing started to happen.
Because why have mediocre when you can have amazing?? That’s what I say!
So, at nearly 12 years in, is every day amazing?? No, but many days are and I’m sooo in love! I’m desperately, passionately, maybe excessively in love with my husband. But, I’ve struggled through many years of marriage (maybe the whole first half) feeling utterly convinced that the marriage I have today, was impossible. My marriage is living proof that change is possible!
(Commitment + Family) - Passion = Marriage, is not the equation for a fulfilling marriage. Reject that equation!! You deserve more!
So, would I say I have the recipe for a perfect marriage?? No, but one thing I offer is this: aim for amazing. Aim for amazing and see what happens. It won't likely happen overnight (it didn’t for me), but when it does, you’ll never regret aiming high.
Writer and fellow traveler on the road of life.