Intelligence has been humorously defined as an adjective used to describe people that agree with oneself. The wisdom in that joke is very applicable to this entry in our marriage series: our perception of perfection will be based on our imperfect understanding of the world and our desires. With that in mind, before we seek to improve all the weaknesses of our spouses as though on a religious crusade, it is good to remember to keep our own imperfections in check in the following ways:
Realize that weaknesses are often closely linked with strengths.
If your spouse is someone who really sticks to something, you may find in her or him stubbornness, or you may find dedication. If your spouse is someone that shows little emotion, a possible word to describe that attribute would be, well, emotionless—but if you analyze that attribute you may see that calm would be a better description. As such, be grateful for what your spouse contributes to your marriage and find out how to work as a team despite the difficulties that may be associated with his or her strength.
Don’t be unrealistic in your expectations.
Perfection should be defined according to one’s capabilities and efforts rather than against an unrealistic standard. One unrealistic standard is expecting to have at the beginning of your marriage everything your parents have after years of marriage. It is likely that the only way you could have all the tools, toys, and luxuries they have would be to go into considerable debt, which is not a good financial decision. You may not even have enough extra cash for more than a monthly ice-cream cone, as my parents did when they started out.
See what is really important.
You may be bothered by little imperfections every now and then. When this happens, consider if they are really important. If not, move on with life. If they are important to you specifically, communicate about that need and see what you can work out together. For example, if you can’t live with your spouse’s bad breath, you might be able to keep mints on hand. And if he or she doesn’t like mints, maybe you can take a toothbrush and toothpaste everywhere. Whatever the specific circumstance, you can work through it, as long as you do it together.
In summary, dealing with the imperfections of our significant other is likely to require dealing with our own inability to judge perfectly and doing whatever is necessary to improve that judgment as much as we can. This might not be an easy task, but with that special someone that committed specifically to be with you in the good times and the bad, it should work out.
By Austin Tracy
This is the fifth post in a series about making the transition from single life to marriage. Each post will highlight a topic about marriage that begins with a letter in the word. As we work our way through M.A.R.R.I.A.G.E, whether you have been married for a while, are a newlywed, or are just preparing to get married, we hope that these posts will help you to make a smooth transition.