Before you got married did you ever envision what marriage would be like? Did you ever envision long walks on the beach holding hands, late nights lying beside each other talking about everything (and never arguing), trips to the store to pick out your favorite ice cream, cuddles and hugs every time you reunited at the end of the day, endless laughter and smiles, constant success and no challenges with your best friend and lover at your side, and much, much more!?
Doesn't that sound absolutely dreamy?! Doesn't it sound completely blissful?! Doesn't it sound... perfect?!
We all dream of the perfect marriage, of happily ever after, right?
Well, guess what? I hope your marriage isn't perfect in that sense of the word. Really, I do. And not because I would be jealous or envious if it was.
In fact, I hope your marriage isn't perfect for quite the opposite reason.
I hope your marriage isn't perfect because the imperfections in marriage are what make it so wonderful! If your marriage is perfect, then I'd love to talk with you. But if I had to guess, I'd say your perfect marriage would be pretty boring.
Think of all the incredible experiences you would have missed out on if your marriage was perfect? For example, a gentle kiss to say, "I'm sorry." A bouquet of roses to say, "Can we start over?" Falling asleep in each other's arms after "one of those days." And of course... make up sex!
Where's the adventure in perfection? Where's the stretching, the growing together, the becoming?
You see, marriage is all about reaching for perfection. It's about dreaming of perfection. It's about working towards perfection, together!
I'm pretty sure that if and when we ever arrive at perfection, we'll look back and realize that the journey towards perfection is what made life wonderful. That it was holding hands throughout that journey and walking side by side that made marriage special. That it was sticking with each other through thick and thin and coming out victorious, despite all odds, which made us truly happy.
That's because life is a journey. Marriage is a journey. And we should enjoy that journey - imperfections and all - while it lasts.
There's a great quote by Jenkins Lloyd Jones that expresses this idea very well:
"There seems to be a superstition among many thousands of our young [men and women] who hold hands and smooch in the drive-ins that marriage is a cottage surrounded by perpetual hollyhocks to which a perpetually young and handsome husband comes home to a perpetually young and [beautiful] wife. When the hollyhocks wither and boredom and bills appear the divorce courts are jammed. ...
"Anyone who imagines that bliss [in marriage] is normal is going to waste a lot of time running around shouting that he has been robbed.
"[The fact is] most putts don't drop. Most beef is tough. Most children grow up to be just people. Most successful marriages require a high degree of mutual toleration. Most jobs are more often dull than otherwise. ...
"Life is like an old-time rail journey-delays, sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders and jolts, interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling bursts of speed.
"The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride."
Imperfect marriages are much like that old-time rail journey. They are interspersed with fairy-tale moments, with beautiful vistas, and with near-perfect days. So enjoy your marriage - all of it! Enjoy the hard days, and the happy ones; the stressful ones and the sad ones; the fulfilling ones and the trying ones. Enjoy the perfectness of what marriage is meant to be - a growing, trying, refining, and beautiful adventure.
So, despite how annoying, frustrating, demanding, or difficult all your marriage imperfections may be at times - just remember that those imperfections are what make the marriage journey so satisfying, fulfilling, and wonderful.
The bottom line is to enjoy the ride! Take it one day at a time, and work on becoming your best self, and encouraging your spouse, as well. Make today a little more meaningful by kissing your spouse, telling him or her how much you love sharing this journey of life with them, and thanking him or her for sticking with you through the ups and the downs. Let gratitude for the journey fill your heart and motivate you to be and to do better today and always. And keep working on nurturing your marriage. You're making more progress than you realize.
This article was originally here. It has been republished with permission.
Aaron & April are the founders of Nurturing Marriage, a website dedicated to strengthening marriages. They enjoy playing football with their two little boys, watching sports, eating cereal late at night, and going out for frozen yogurt.