Why is it so hard to admit that our marriage isn’t perfect? It’s easy to complain about our spouses. Sooooo very ridiculously easy. But to say that the relationship isn’t perfect is another matter.
Occasionally I go to see a therapist, whenever I feel like I could use a little help in the sorting out emotions department. So the other day I dragged my husband along with me. There were a couple of reasons, none of which were for “couples counseling”. The appointment went great for everyone there. But as I told a close friend later that day — a beautiful woman who is older than me that I go to for wisdom about life’s trials on a regular basis — I felt the need to emphasize that it wasn’t couples counseling. Before she even responded, I suddenly got defensive and tried to tell her that we were doing great and it had nothing to do with our marriage.
This sent up a red flag for me. Why did I care? Why did I feel the need to assure her that my marriage was okay? This is a friend who I message my sensitive prayer requests too and talk to her about all of my life struggles. This is a friend who I could tell if I had marriage problems or frustrations. But my natural instinct was to be defensive, to assure her my husband and I’s relationship was a match made in heaven.
My marriage has to be perfect. To appear like it wasn’t, was upsetting. As I tried to figure out my defensiveness, I realized I was fighting some misconceptions that I didn’t realize were even there. I don’t think I am alone in this.
Here are some myths that keep many of us (some? a couple? or maybe just me…) from admitting our relationship isn’t perfect.
If my marriage isn’t perfect…
1) …it means you weren’t “meant to be.” When you are getting married, you are all in love and in this joyous phase of “I’ve finally found the one!” Then reality hits. Sometimes it takes longer than others, and sometimes it hits a bit harder than some. But the fact is there are no perfect people. There are perfect moments and perfect situations, but because you and your spouse disagree doesn’t mean you were wrong. It doesn’t mean you were not soul mates. It doesn’t mean you don’t have the match made in heaven you’ve always wanted. It just means you are human.
Women take pride in that they have “caught” the perfect guy. That this amazing man actually loves them and wants them for life. The fact is, he’s not perfect, just like the women are not perfect. We put marriage on this pedestal that it should be better than a Disney movie if you are “perfect” for each other.
By being human, having bad days, and not being 100% all the time does not take away the romance of you have. It doesn’t take away your epic love story. It just means you have to work to keep your epic love story going.
2) …it must mean I am doing something wrong. This one is simple. You don’t want to admit your relationship isn’t perfect because you don’t want to admit you are not perfect. But here is the thing: your relationship problems or struggles may not be because you did something wrong. But it is still your relationship. It’s okay if it’s not perfect, and guess what? It’s okay that you are not perfect either.
3) …is an insult or disrespect to your spouse. I fall into this one many times. I don’t want to admit our relationship isn’t perfect, because for some reason it feels like an insult to my husband. But it doesn’t have to be. You can admit imperfection without insulting, bagging on, or gossiping about your spouse.
The key is just that many people, especially women, don’t do it that way. Whenever they talk about struggles it turns into a bash fest against their spouse. Because of this we tend to fall into two categories: pretending we are perfect or hating on our husband. There is a middle ground where we can be honest, but still loving about our relationship. It just may take a little extra effort to regulate ourselves.
4) …it means we are going to get a divorce. In today’s world, people get divorced. It’s just a reality of life. Some reasons are legitimate, and some reasons may be viewed as less so. We never know what happens in someone else’s relationship, so I don’t want to assume to know who is right or wrong for the population at large. But to admit that not everything is 100% may mean that we are going down that road. False.
The fact is, relationships are hard. They take humility, forgiveness, hard conversations and sometimes outside help to keep going. Just because you have to put in the work just means that you are married, not that you are heading towards divorce.
I think the key to all of these are the fact that people, including you, are not perfect. Relationships take work. Some days, months, even years are easier than others. Put in the work, and all goes well. But other times it’s not true. It doesn’t matter the work you put in or the sacrifices you make it’s still just hard.
We should not hold ourselves or anyone else by the obligation of being seen as perfect. If your marriage is great, you should say so. If your marriage is struggling, I am not saying advertise it, but it’s okay. We need to be okay with saying that our marriage is not perfect. We need to not have the expectation that it should be.
In my mind, perfect, in marriage, means both people are putting in the work. You both are managing the ups and downs of life together. You ask for forgiveness when you need it (because you will need it), you try to consistently date and pursue your spouse, you are encouraging and supportive even when it’s hard, and above all God is the center.
Maybe if more people were honest about their relationships, less people would feel so discouraged about their own. If over coffee with our friends we talked about how to forgive our husbands as much as we complain about them not helping with chores, things would be different. True honesty. It’s a unique concept.
I battle so many myths that somehow get put in my brain and heart. As I have expressed before, I want to use this blog to be honest about them. To hear your feedback. And to work through the little intricacies in this thing called life.
Have you found yourself struggling with admitting you have problems in your marriage? Or even that your marriage may not be 100% perfect? Why or why not?