One of the most profound, life changing words of wisdom I ever heard about relationships was spoken by my then girlfried, Jennifer, who is now my wife. On one of our many drives back and forth between her house and mine, I turned to her and asked the question that most boyfriends (and girlfriends for that matter) ask their mate at least once in their relationship: “Would you ever cheat on me?” Her answer: “I don’t know.” Wow, that was a shocking answer. I didn’t expect that. But I learned somethings that day.
Let’s speak of it:
1. We’re human and imperfect.
Truth be told we all know this, but somehow we think that in our relationships the fact that 100% of humans are imperfect don’t simply apply to our mates. Jennifer followed her statement that day with, “I’m human. I don’t know what I’m capable of doing.” It shocked the “perfection” out of her for me. It put me on edge. It made (and makes) me realize that faithfulness doesn’t just happen. Faithfulness is a daily choice. There are too many “unknowables” and human commitments are not perfect. I made up my mind that day that I must continually give her reasons to be faithful to me. I must help maintain her happiness with her decision to be with me. Marriage needs daily effort (and your spouse needs your daily help) because people are routinely imperfect. Helping your imperfect spouse stay committed to you will go a long way in having a fulfilled marriage.
2. Love demands work.
People who get married thinking that life will now be perfect are in for a shock – perfection does not come after “I do”. I think it is this notion of “perfection” that really do couples in. Getting married will not make you or your spouse perfect. Since that conversation with Jennifer, I realized that the only real perfect love comes from God. For us human beings, “perfect” love is a maturing love – one that grows especially in challenging times. Marriage will actually reveal hidden imperfections in people - lack of patience, pride, selfishness, etc. To maintain a strong marriage takes perfecting – a process of growth by acceptance of weaknesses while fortifying your’s and your spouse’s strengths. Just make sure you work on yourself every time you think your spouse needs to work on him/herself.
3. I have to be on guard.
I remember sitting back in the driver seat staring at the road ahead of me as I tried digesting what Jennifer just told me. My “perfect” girlfriend and wife-to-be just shook my “perfect” world. How could she say that? I thought. Then I felt the Spirit of God share to me: “You must be aware of your weakness so you can be on guard”. My God! That was life changing. As long as I see myself (or Jennifer) incapable of messing up, I am defenseless against the attacks of my flesh (or the struggles that she faces). If I’m not on guard, I can get sucker-punched. It was liberating. The thought put me on the offensive. Married people can do well if they know they are capable of the most terrible, heart breaking things. It’s not that you will do it, it is enough just to know your capable of doing it. That awareness, in proper perspective, can keep you proactive, vigilant and forgiving. Love is not blind. Love is perspective. Love is understanding and forgiveness.
Every married person still sees the world as it is. Marriage will not change what is innately human. Beautiful people will not all of a sudden disappear because you got married. Your husband or wife will still have emotional responses to sensual stimuli. There will be attraction to someone or something else. There will be egos. There will be conflict. It doesn’t mean you love each other less. It just means that you are both still human. So be on guard. Never say “never”.
It is your commitment to each other and the work that you both put into your marriage that will make your marriage fulfilling. Any “perfection” in your marriage will depend on your way of seeing yourself as well as your spouse. Walking around expecting God-type perfection from an imperfect man/woman is unfair and overreaching; it can leave you heart broken and your spouse exasperated. So don’t expect perfection, but do expect effort – first from yourself. (There must be a daily pursuit of personal growth in you if you expect it from your spouse.) Like I have said many times: happily ever after only comes if you’re both willing to work at happily, daily after.
What do you think? Should we expect perfection from ourselves or our spouses after marriage? Or do you feel that perfection is impossible. Please let me know in the comments below. God bless you and thanks for the input.