Over my years of mentoring men on marriage and parenting, many have had the thought, but only a few have had the courage to say it out loud. “That’s easy for you to say, you have a perfect marriage.” To which I quickly respond, “dude, you have no idea how screwed up my marriage is. I don’t have a perfect marriage.”
I hope this comes as no surprise to you. My marriage is just like every other marriage on the planet – flawed. In many cases, I don’t offer advice based on some gnostic wisdom, but rather based on learning from my own mistakes.
Jennifer and I had a perfect marriage. It lasted about ninety minutes. The image you see above was taken by our wedding photographer as we left our wedding reception. Up until this point, we had a perfect marriage. We survived the stress of the post ceremony photos. We managed the overwhelming crowd as we mingled during the reception. We even soldiered on through the barrage of birdseed as we left the reception. But then it happened.
The photo above was taken immediately after we got into our car to leave the reception. It was taken just before Jennifer and I looked at one another and simultaneously asked, “where are the keys?” Each of us thought the other was in charge of having the keys for our ceremonial drive away at the end of our wedding reception. What ensued next was the first argument of our young marriage. Our perfection lasted all of ninety minutes.
I had expectations of Jennifer – that she had the keys. Jennifer had expectations of me – that I had the keys. Both of us were disappointed in our expectations of each other and thus our first argument as a married couple followed. This brief spat was also captured in photo, but I’ve decided against sharing that photo in order to make my point regarding your misconceptions of other marriages. Let’s explore those misconceptions.
Marriage isn’t what you see on Facebook
You surf Facebook just like I do. You see all those wonderful family adventure photos and date night selfies just like I do. If we aren’t careful we can create the misconception that every other marriage is full of wonderful date nights, fabulous adventures, and great joy. And with all this greatness in other marriage, there can’t possibly be room for discord or strife. All those other marriages are wonderful, while my marriage is full of struggle. It just isn’t true. Most people naturally put only the best of their relationship on Facebook. You don’t see all the struggles that don’t make it onto Facebook. You won’t find a perfect marriage on Facebook.
It should also be noted that the opposite may be true of Facebook. For whatever reason, some feel it is appropriate to air all their dirty laundry on Facebook. Sure, they try to be covert by not naming names. But at times, it’s clear they are bashing their spouse publicly on Facebook. This is wrong on so many levels. And it can create the misconception that all marriages are miserable. Again, simply not true.
Marriage isn’t what you hear at the office
The workplace isn’t always about work. A healthy workplace will actually invite a bit of life into the office. When life does enter the workplace, the topic of discussions can linger around marriage. The conversations may range from accounts of the week long cruise your coworker just returned from to reason another slept on the sofa the night before. Like Facebook, some will only talk about the best aspect of their marriage and others are all too quick to describe the horrific details of their marital arguments.
Whatever the case, you must understand that you aren’t getting the entire picture. You haven’t heard both sides of the story. You haven’t heard of the anger that filled the couple as they tried to navigate all their luggage onto the ship before it set sail. And you haven’t heard of wonderful ways the other couples makes amends after their arguments. And thank the Lord so, we do need to keep the workplace professional and PG after all. You won’t find a perfect marriage at the office.
Marriage isn’t what you hear in small groups
We often recommend small group settings for making deeper relational connections with others in similar places of life. This is exactly why I’ve been involved with small group Bible studies for years now. Most of those years I’ve served in a leadership or teaching role within the groups. As transparent as I try to be, there are certainly aspects of our marriage that even this group of very close friends doesn’t know.
And I know this is true of other couples within our groups also. I know this because, unfortunately, I’ve experienced couples within our groups end their marriage with divorce and no one saw it coming. No one knew these couples were even struggling in their marriage. You won’t find a perfect marriage in small groups.
All this said to try to encourage you with the reality that you are not alone. Every marriage on the planet experiences the same struggles and successes that you experience. Every couple argues. Every married person experiences disappointment and unmet expectations. But also, ever marriage has those moments when you realize exactly why you married your spouse – those moments when you’d rather be no other place than with your spouse.
1) Stop comparing your marriage to your perception of other marriages.
2) Acknowledge your struggles and work together to resolve them.
3) Take special note of those times filled with marital joy.
4) Read 5 Steps To A Successful Marriage
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Date Night Ideas
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