Not Perfect … Forgiven

I was talking with a friend the other day and she said, from my blogs, I must have had the perfect marriage.


A perfect marriage? No, definitely not perfect, although given our naivete and youth, our divergent backgrounds and baggage, I would say it was about as close as you could come. And it took lots of patience, practice, compromise and downright hard work to work our way from youthful idealism to realism and from lust to love.

No, no, no. Neither Karen nor I were saints, although I know she’s wearing her crown right now and is probably shining mine up.

We were as opposite as you could get. She was outgoing; I was shy. Her family struggled (single mom, two girls); mine was stable. She was virtually unchurched; I went to Mass every week. She had a clear vision for her life while I was more aloof {although once I started on my career path that changed}.

But we made a commitment that hot August day in 1968 … to each other. And we worked very hard to live up those words we spoke before God, family and friends. Sometimes, it wasn’t easy. No, most of the time it wasn’t easy.

The easy part was forgetting why we got together in the first place. When you’re courting {do people even say that anymore?} or are first married you live to please your mate. But as the routine of marriage settles in, it’s all too easy to settle in with it. You start taking each other for granted or stop listening or — worst of all — stop kindling the excitement that drew you together.

Before we got married, Karen and I could talk for hours, either in person or on the phone. It didn’t matter what we talked about. It didn’t matter who did most of the talking {hint, it usually wasn’t me}. But it was through these conversations I could cipher what was bothering her, what made her happy, what made her sad. And I reacted appropriately.

As we “matured” in our married life, long conversations often were replaced by sound bites. Nagging and sulking {for both of us} replaced that intimacy of conversation. Work, child rearing and homemaking limited “alone time talk” even more.

Karen could be, well, opinionated and stubborn. She could remember hurts for … ever. When she got mad, she got mad and everyone knew it. She wore her emotions on her sleeve. She tended to see the glass as half empty.

I, on the other hand, am also, well, opinionated and stubborn. But, I tend to get angry at hurts, internally explode when I’m alone and move on. I hold my emotions in. I tend to see the glass as half full.

So the journey of two personalities on the same road led to some heated “discussions.” But after the verbal sparring, she often would let the hurt last for days on end, while I couldn’t tell you what we fought about the next morning. That, in itself, would drive the poor woman crazy.

We didn’t “fight” often and we never went to bed without a kiss and an “I love you.” But there were times she would also add, “But I don’t like you right now.”

We fought about the usual things. But the common denominator was always a lack of communication and/or taking each other for granted {I say as I raise my hand admitting it was mostly me}.

We just didn’t realize what was happening. We just knew something was amiss and each of us, in our own way, longed to go back to the days of wine and roses and get away from dirty diapers and a sink full of dishes. And we made a concerted effort — especially in our later years — to invest in each other. We learned each other’s strength complemented our weaknesses. It was Karen’s realism that tempered my dreams, as much as it was my aloofness that quieted her fears. Or, as Karen would say, we approached life “right brain … left brain.” We never really decided whether the glass was half full or half empty. Instead, we both became grateful we had a glass at all.

And we started doing unexpected things that became trademarks of our marriage. She started a tradition of three kisses every time we either left or returned home. The first kiss was for all our yesterdays, a remembrance, if you will, of our first kiss and the ones that followed. The second kiss was for today and today’s moment. We savored it. The third kiss was a promissory note for all our tomorrows.

I contributed cartoons. Probably for half our married life, I gave her a cartoon every morning — through thick and thin, when happy or angry. Her favorite was Helga and Hagar, those Vikings facing age-old relationships and life problems with humor.

Karen was complex and needed my undivided attention. She was sometime child-like and other times speaking with the wisdom that came with maturity … vulnerable yet strong … compassionate and passionate … anxious yet content … realistically optimistic …unconditionally loving and caring … satisfied yet restless … accomplished … relaxed and stressed … insecure yet secure … self-effacing yet confident.

I was {am} complex and needed her undivided attention. I am sometimes child-like and other times surprise myself with the wisdom that comes with maturity … vulnerable yet strong … compassionate and passionate … anxious yet content … realistically optimistic … relaxed and stressed … satisfied yet restless … accomplished {?} … relaxed and stressed … insecure yet secure … self-effacing yet confident.

We complemented each other. That’s what made it work … and that was the root of problems when it didn’t work. Fortunately, it did work more than it didn’t.

Perfect? No. Forgiven? Definitely!

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: We all need someone to believe in us more than we believe in ourselves, to see our potential, to look beyond where we are now and guide us to what God has planned for us.

About wisdomfromafather

I'm just an ordinary guy walking along the journey of life.
This entry was posted in life & love and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Not Perfect … Forgiven

  1. Beautifully put. I loved your “Thought to Remember.” A wise uncle of mine always said “Marriage isn’t 50/50; it’s more of a 60/40 relationship if you really want it to work. Each partner always has to give more. Well done.

  2. TamrahJo says:

    Another good read – so glad I found your blog.
    I, too, loved your thought to remember and wanted to share my dad’s thought on marriage:
    “Marriage is like a team of horses – if you pull together, headed in the same general direction, then the hills are not so long or hard and there’s someone to swipe the flies off ya when it gets to hard to swipe them yourself and you have someone to kick up your heels and play with once the day is done. Halve the burdens, double the joys.”

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this subject!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s