Husband & Wife Articles


 

Ending the Quest for Perfect

Working with our faults, maintaining our marriages

By Jessica Weinberger

“Perfect doesn’t live here.”

My mother clearly articulated this phrase to me several times throughout my life: after her cancer diagnosis, during my brother’s illness and death, and mostly in the small moments of marriage and family life that seemed anything but perfect. It also echoed in my heart throughout the months leading up to my wedding last October, quietly reminding me that our carefully planned day would not be flawless. And now, as a newlywed, I’m living out our vows every day with my husband, George, and reminding myself that “perfect” does not exist within marriage.

The concept of maintaining a perfect home life and marriage vanished as soon as our honeymoon luggage (lost by the airline, of course) arrived on our doorstep. Like many couples, we’re juggling careers, a home life, volunteer work and, of course, our relationship and faith life – and that’s without kids!

Beneath it all, there’s still an innate quest for perfection that manifests itself in the things we have, the things we do and especially in the people we love, including our spouse. It’s tempting to hold our spouses to an unattainable level of perfection. We all want to portray an image to the world around us that we have it all together, that we’ve overcome life’s challenges and persevered to maintain the perfect relationship. But we weren’t perfect before marriage, and we don’t become perfect by saying “I do.”

Marriage has a way of spotlighting faults and innermost struggles. This recent Lenten season allowed us to reflect on the many ways that we fail and sin. Pride, selfishness and jealousy can flare up within seconds, and in the midst of everyday life, married couples fall short. It doesn’t take long in marriage to realize that the lives we lead and the relationships we hold dear aren’t perfect.

The world silently places us on this quest for perfection, but our Catholic faith tells us that only God is perfect. It’s only through his grace that we reach an otherwise unattainable level of perfect. In each role that we hold – son or daughter, husband or wife – we should be channeling our energy into transforming our hearts and becoming the people that God has called us to be.

So how do we curb this inner struggle to maintain a perfect life with the perfect spouse?

Remember: Perfect isn’t possible. Come to terms with this fact as soon as possible to eliminate unnecessary anger and resentment. We’re human; we falter and disappoint ourselves and others. There will come a time when your husband or wife does not meet your expectations. See it as a growth opportunity, not a failure.

We’re wired differently. Hopefully you entered your marriage with the understanding that men and women were not designed to be the same. Appreciate the unique qualities that your spouse brings to your marriage.

Put it in perspective. When you become frustrated with your spouse’s shortcomings, take a step back to understand why you’re frustrated. Will this matter next week, next month or next year?

Know what you’re working toward. The call that God has set on your heart for you individually and for your marriage is not a pursuit of perfection; it is a life of love and sacrifice. Let the Holy Spirit guide your thoughts and actions as you help each other reach the ultimate goal: heaven.

Perfect may not live here, but we know the One who is perfect. Turn to him to guide your marriage – imperfect in so many ways but perfected by grace.

Jessica Weinberger is a marketing professional and freelance writer. She regularly contributes to The CatholicMatch Institute blog and Family Foundations, the magazine of the Couple to Couple League. She lives in Minneapolis, Minn., with her husband, George. Her website is JessicaWeinberger.com.