So if you’ve been on the Internet at all today, or watched any TV or listened to the radio, you’re well aware that tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. It’s as if it’s Fix-Your-Love-Life week.
The media is cooking up and serving up tips and ideas and suggestions. Find your match. A better marriage with these tips. 10 steps to a better relationship. Better this, better that, quick fix this and quick fix that. And friends, my jaw is dropping along with yours at the number of heart-shaped desserts on Pinterest.
The catch with this better-marriage, grab-a-date tizzy? No guarantees. Nothing wrong with some tips and suggestions and fix-its, and we should do our best to love and serve our spouses well.
But the longer we are married, the more obvious this truth becomes: it’s really not about us.
Mr. S. and I were married for six-ish hours when I realized I wasn’t going to be a perfect wife. We were standing outside the museum where we got married and facing a huge limo. Except we’d ordered a town car. A town car was in the budget. A limo? Nope.
Our photographer even captured us discussing this little mishap with the driver:
We still don’t know why this switch occurred. Maybe well-meaning friends or family made a call and upgraded (in which case, thank you!). Or maybe the company did us a generous favor. But whatever the case, I just couldn’t shut up about it.
We can’t afford it, I worried aloud. This is ridiculous, I said. Not necessary, I recited over and over. All I could do was complain.
First of many such moments, friends. Oh so many. Fourteen months later, I can’t think of a day when either one of us has been Perfect Husband or Perfect Wife.
There are many things about marriage that few freely share. One such lesson? I can never and will never be a perfect wife. Far beyond that, I can never and will never be a perfect person. And when this perfectionist must face her imperfections intimately and head-on, she crumbles.
We’ve had blissful, glorious moments to be sure. But both Mr. S. and I will safely say that, for us, there has been no such thing as a “honeymoon phase.” Just as often as marriage is beautiful, it is also difficult and painful. In all of it, though, it’s humbling. From day one, we’ve been made keenly aware of our brokenness and our imperfection.
The moment I expect perfect from Mr. S. is the moment I set him up for failure. The moment I expect perfect from myself is the moment I set myself up for failure. But the moment we turn towards the only One who is perfect . . . that’s the moment we set our marriage up for success.
In an odd and beautiful way, when I embrace my identity as a imperfect wife, I find myself in a wonderful marriage. Marriage gets great when we realize just how dramatically not-so-great we are. The one thing in our marriage on which we can lean: Christ. We have no fear of Him crumbling, and can place all our weight and all our brokenness there.
There are some aspects of our marriage that need work, obvious to us both. But what most of our marriage needs is grace. Grace in our imperfection, grace in our attempts, grace in our brokenness. I need grace. And in giving our marriage that grace, we experience a sliver of a bigger grace. A bigger grace that we get only from Christ.
And because of that, there exists a need to recognize and celebrate my victories. I am redeemed. Mr. S. is redeemed. Our marriage, imperfect as it is, is redeemed.
Lies about the crappy-terrible-awful wife I sometimes think I am carry no power anymore. Armed with that truth, I boldly cross out the lies I tell to myself and about myself.
Our marriage is imperfect, and it is good. I am not a perfect wife, and I am worth celebrating. It’s a truth that I am still learning and a truth that transforms me, every single day.
And so this Valentine’s Day, friends, I’ll be celebrating both what is wrong and what is right about us. The beauty of marriage happens when we look past what’s imperfect and celebrate what is stunningly wonderful.