Thursday, February 21, 2013

A Perfect Kind of Love

I’m double-dipping again today and linking up with Bigger Picture Blogs and the Hearts at Home Third Thursday Blog Hop. In honor of the release of Hearts at Home CEO Jill Savage’s new book, No More Perfect Moms, the Hearts bloggers are teaming up to bring you a candid look at some of our own imperfections. Last month we all shared about our imperfect homes, and this month’s topic is “no more perfect marriages.” Enjoy!
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Matt and I started dating almost eight years ago during a time when our lives were all about us, and we had all the time in the world for each other. Two kids, multiple life-changing decisions, and many miscommunications later, I’m finding that I need to adjust my image of what I always thought a good marriage was supposed to be. 

I realize that makes me sound like my marriage has failed to meet my expectations or that I've somehow been trapped into something I didn't sign up for. Let me clarify. Our disagreements are many but our arguments are few. Laughter is fairly constant and anger is rather rare. Quality time is a priority (well, at least as much of a priority as it can possible be with a toddler and an infant in the house), and "just because" cards are a common gesture. We are similar and different in all the right ways and our daily prayers reflect our gratitude to God for leading us to each other.

When I lay it out like that it sounds pretty perfect, right? Well, as much as I love him, I still roll my eyes when I see his side of the closet in its perpetual state of disarray. I get annoyed when he chews too loud, and I don't understand how he never gets tired of watching ESPN. And even though I can count our big fights on just one hand, we still bicker regularly about things like who should give Allie a bath, who left the garage door open all night, and who should get up with Reese at 6:00am.

As normal as all that may seem, I do find that the little annoyances and repeat areas of disagreement combined with our constant lack of energy have begun to transform our once-perfect love story into a run-of-the-mill tale of two boring old married people. So I've decided that I need to deconstruct my perfect image of the perfect marriage before I mistake contentment for apathy and forget the bigger picture of what true love really is.

I won’t lie. I have questioned my marriage. It’s not a notion I entertain willingly, but more of a fleeting invasive thought that creeps up after I’ve stormed out of the room and muttered something like “you just don't get it;” or when I realize that we haven’t kissed in two days and I start to fear that I might someday understand what people mean when they say, “I love him, but I’m not in love with him.” 

Maybe it’s because I grew up reading Danielle Steel novels and watching movies like Titanic and The Notebook – stories that either completely omit the less glamorous parts of love or glorify them in a way that make you believe that perfect harmony really does exist. After all, in a world where the timing is always perfect and no one ever has morning breath, who wouldn’t find everlasting love at first sight? 

Or maybe it’s because I live in a society that portrays real love as easy and automatic, causing the belief that the need for intentionality and effort signals the permanent loss of “the spark” or that the inevitable switch from passionate excitement to quiet contentment means that you must have “fallen out of love.”

When those thoughts creep up, I always remind myself that it’s only the perfect image of easy love talking -  an image based solely on the fantasy world of Hollywood and brief encounters with other couples whose miscommunications and marital flaws are so hard to picture that they surely must not exist. And then I remind myself that no perfect image – whether it exists on a movie screen or in the pages of a novel or even in our own minds – could ever capture the depths and dimensions of real love in real life. 

Because real love burns beneath the surface of the sparks that fly in the early years when falling in love is easy, and it doesn’t waver even when it discovers that staying in love is hard. Real love comes from cleaning up each other’s vomit and knowing that you really did mean “in sickness and health;” and from holding each other’s hands in your darkest hours and knowing that you really did mean “for better or worse.” Real love doesn’t bat a concerned eye at occasional arguments, breaks in affection, or lulls in excitement. It stands by you even when you’re wrong, forgives you even when it hurts, and says “I love you” even through silence and distance and death. 

More than anything, real love knows that the moment when you’re wondering if you’re falling out of a perfect love is really just the moment when you begin falling into the only kind that really is.


This is a Bigger Picture moment. 
Join us at Hyacynth's place today!
 

10 comments:

  1. Movies and popular culture do real, long-term love a disservice with the idea that it is all roses and fireworks. Sparks can die down, but embers still burn hot and can flare up whenever we fuel them!

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    1. So true, May! I think pop culture has a huge hand in the divorce rate. People grab onto that stuff whether they actively realize it or not, and then they go out into the world looking for what can only be found within.

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  2. Love most certainly is undefinable at times because it means different things to different people. The same goes for marriages. We "become one" but not one person is the same, and not all marriages are the same either. There have been times that I've doubted my marriage, not my vows, but the entire unit. Then time and time again I see that we are one united front with different souls- combined. Real love is the love that you have for yourself, for your husband- for your united front. Real love is ever-changing. It is only natural to be curious about those changes.

    Than you for sharing these thoughts. I enjoyed reading this!

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  3. I think the longer I've been married to John, the more I've fallen in love with him as I've fallen more in love with Him. I see more clearly now every year how my husband tries to emulate Jesus and how that doesn't always mean roses on Valentine's Day ... nor do I want it to. It's the moments of vomit clean up, as you said, that really give us a picture of what love really means. At the heart of it all, is service. Beautifully put, Lisa. Thanks for sharing yourself so vulnerably today.

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  4. I blogged about little frustrations building up to destroy as well. Real love is a choice not a feeling. Thanks for sharing your story.

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  5. Before my husband and I got married, we went through a period of complete heartbreak that totally disillusioned us of Hollywood love. It was in the rebuilding that we constructed what "real" love meant for us, what commitment means, and how it would shape us as individuals and as a couple. It wasn't an easy process, but I'm SO grateful for it because we learned so much, and it gave us such a strong foundation to stand on when we finally did exchange vows, that we can have disagreements or even arguments and not have it shake the trust we have that we'll find a way through it.

    I think Hollywood does us one other disservice when it comes to love - and that is that it subtly perpetuates a notion that to belong to one another is to, in some way, own that person. And that is such a mistake to not allow the other person to be who they are, but rather to push them to conform to some idea we have of who they should be. We fear change in life, and often times we fear the other person changing because what will it mean for us? Will they become someone unrecognizable? Someone we don't even like? Will they no longer love us? But the truth is change is inevitable. In 20 years I will not be the same person I was 5 years ago, and neither will my husband. It's scary to let go of control, but I've found in the 12+ years we've been together, that the greatest strength we have is in the freedom we give each other to try new things. Being flexible, rather than rigid, keeps us strong and it keeps the magic alive too, because there's always something new to discover about each other.

    Marriage is indeed work. With kids, it's even more of a challenge. But the rewards are beyond compare. I really appreciate you baring your soul here with us, and I love your parting line.

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  6. I, too, read way too many romance novels in my youth and had a distorted version of what love and marriage were about! As you said, marriage is definitely work and doesn't come easy, like in novels or movies. But it's worth the effort!

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  7. Isn't it unfortunate that we can feel as if we're the only ones that are "old and boring" or that have failed based on our sometimes shallow view of what love is supposed to be? You are absolutely spot on that the love that you find through all the "un-hollywood" times is the deeper truer love that comes from God and is manifested in "true-love" filled relationships. Well said and thank you for sharing what many of us are afraid to share.

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  8. Lisa this is so true, Love is not what you choose to show friends to see, its all the little things that happen every day that make it perfect. Being married 30 years myself I personally think anyone that says they have never had a doubt or a bad day with their spouse is a Liar. Its inevitable and as you said its what makes a marriage stronger. Great job of keeping it real!!
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