I guess it would be ideal, and perhaps make me more “readable,” to tell you all the things that are perfect about my marriage.
But I try not to lie.
It seems to me in the ways of “good” marriages and “bad” marriages, good is perfect, sweet, and easy. Bad means, well, you don’t talk about bad.
After all, especially in Christian circles, we should all get along and Jesus can fix anything.
Until He doesn’t. Which is baffling.
And early in my life, I heard from lots of folks about the perfect Christian marriage. First, I learned from a very young age, you never, ever married a non-believer because your yoke would have bad juju. However, one of my closest friends is married to one, and while she prays he will come to know and love Jesus, they are doing just fine.
Second, your perfect Christian husband should be the head of the household, a spiritual leader, and have a “servant’s heart.”
So, when I fell hard and fast for Justin Gene Amerine, I convinced myself we were equally yoked by converting to his religion. And then, I went to work on Justin to seal the deal. When I kept getting pregnant, I believed I was a more devout Catholic than him, cause of my suffrage and all, which messed up our yokes. So, I figured I could spiritually lead him into being the spiritual leader of our household, like that AMAZING choir director, who later turned out to be a serial adulterer with a strange fetish for prostitutes with big feet, named Clarice.
And Justin could never be that choir director, and not because he can’t croon like George Strait and not because he isn’t a fan of my size 9 ½ ski feet.
But because he is Justin.
Good and decent, kind and gentle… Justin.
So, we say all the things… you know, for better or for worse, and how love is this and that. And I believed so strongly in the fairy tale, I was totally sideswiped by the reality of life ever after with someone, much, much, much, different than me.
Therefore, I come to you with a confession, one that I think many other people can identify with.
I do not have a “perfect” marriage.
And the biggest negative factor in my marriage, for many years, was me.
I would have told you it was him. Actually, I believed it was him. But it was me.
Me, with my lofty ideas of who Justin should be, instead of trusting who he already was. Among the elite and “perfect” marriages, there is an ideal guy. One that says grace before dinner… sometimes after. And he made all the financial decisions, was the disciplinarian, and the guide on “our” spiritual journey.
Furthermore, I believed that any bad that would befall us, was my fault because I had failed to make Justin more spiritual.
I know, I am exhausting.
But this was the truth. I believed that if I was a good enough wife, with strong Christian beliefs and a collection plate full of exactly 10%, nothing bad would happen to us and Justin would morph into the perfect Christian husband.
I need only stay in my prayer pose and beg God to make Justin do all the things to make God have favor with Him, (which Justin already had, you know because of the cross,) and we would have the perfect marriage.
However, I have since come to know and believe, expecting someone else to be your perfect everything, is wholly setting that person up to fail. And I am left with the question, why would you do that to someone you love?
I propose that one of the greatest detriments to any marriage is the lie of perfection. The second is comparison.However, I have since come to know and believe, expecting someone else to be your perfect everything, is wholly setting that person up to fail. And I am left with the question, why would you do that to someone you love?Click To Tweet
At one point in my experimentation with “Project Fix Justin,” a role model in my life suggested that a perfect marriage meant that we would never fight. Her application was that if I submitted to Justin, as head of our home, there would never be any strife. That simply by agreeing with him, no matter what, made me a better Christian wife, reinforced his role as paterfamilias, granted us favor with the God of our design, and totally negated the need for argument.
If I truly disagreed with Justin, I need only smile, nod my head, bake more cookies, and take all my complaints about my husband, directly to the Lord.
Unfortunately, I believed this. And so, for the better part of 20 years, I worked tirelessly at faking perfection, so onlookers would think we were perfect, and Justin would get better.
Let me toss this gem out, stop looking at my marriage and I will stop looking at yours.
Recently my daughter’s friend learned that someone had started an Instagram account for the girl and her boyfriend’s relationship.
Someone opened a social media account celebrating this young couple’s “perfect” courtship. I submit that the author of this account is either a 48-year-old fat guy living in his parent’s basement or a desperate and misguided 15-year-old girl with braces and daddy issues. But, the fact remains, we want to witness perfection.
We want a piece of what we believe is the perfect relationship. Furthermore, by even dipping our toes in the raging waters of comparison, we are setting our mate up for failure.
And this is paramount, why do we look to others and what they have to magnify what we do not?
Why do we bother with the sliding scale of perfection, instead of focusing on what was once so enticing, we forged into it with the passion of forever?
Long past the fancy wedding dress and lofty vows, Justin became my family. Beyond the burnt casseroles and “firsts,” came the reality of living with someone who was nothing like me. And yet, he is my friend.
This handsome man is my polar opposite. I like to spend; he likes to save. He says stuff like, “Jami, think like a millionaire. Millionaires eat bargain tuna fish and drive used Fords.”
And I retort with, “Justin, millionaires drive used Fords, their wives drive Cadillac Escalades.”
Justin eats one plain cake donut for breakfast and, brace yourself, he buys one taco from a roadside stand for his lunch.
How sick is that?
Justin is meticulous and organized. And he is quiet, which goes against nearly every ordinary instinct in my creation.
And while our differences go beyond food, he will also only eat two Oreos, because y’all,… that is a serving.
Beyond the fact that he obviously might be clinically insane, we do fight, and we do make grand mistakes in communication. But I fully believe that is the manifestation of living well with someone who is nothing like me and is entirely, the love of my life.
Not only can you not have a marriage like mine, because you are not Justin and Jami, why would you want one? Why would you want the façade of living a life of “perfection” if that perfection wasn’t the perfection you were designed for?
The greatest gift I ever gave my husband, besides half a dozen children to carry on his name, was to stop comparing him to anybody else’s husband. And the greatest gift I have entertained in my marriage was to focus on what I respect about him more than what I “love” about him. In marriage, there will be times that I don’t feel warm and fuzzy.
But I respect Justin on a dozen levels.
When I am weary, frustrated, discouraged, or need more than one taco, I respect Justin. When he exasperates me with no response and fewer words, I respect Justin’s ethics and his dignity. And when I need space, to unwind or spend money, I am motivated and inspired by his commitment to us, his children, and our future.
I will still yell. We will still butt heads. He will not eat his feelings, and so I will eat his… and mine.
Bur with my entire focus on Jesus as perfect, Justin as human, and us as an ongoing work, this marriage is far from ideal, but for Justin and me, it is just perfect.
May your floors be sticky and your calling ordained. Love, Jami
With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Ephesians 4:23
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