The “D” Word. Perfection, part 3

Continuing with my series on exploring Perfection, and how it affects our lives, I’ve been thinking a lot about what makes a “perfect” marriage”. So far, this is what I’ve come up with… 

In our quest for being properly prepared, D and I have been working on our pre-marital training. We haven’t quite enrolled in an “official” pre-marital counseling program, but we decided to start reading up on marriage. Considering both of us are rookies at this, it’s safe to say we’ve got some learning to do.

Perfect marriages don’t exist.



D & I splitting a Margarita. What’s mine is yours…


Shocker. But plenty of books will tell you all the secrets you need to know to make a marriage last. The books talk about communicating and being respectful, knowing each other’s love languages, and seeking professional help when necessary.

One of the books we are reading has a chapter on banning the “D” word. D = divorce. GASP, it even makes me cringe a little just spelling it here. I’m not supposed to use it, yet lately,  it feels like I hear it everywhere. “Oh you’re getting married,” said a random stranger I was chatting up in the elevator one day, “good luck, I’m divorced. I’m sure yours will be much better,” he said sarcastically. And off he rushed to a meeting, leaving me to choke in his bitter dust.

Most people seem genuinely happy when they learn we are engaged and say encouraging things to us about marriage. I say most because even some people can’t pretend long enough to be encouraging to us. They smile and congratulate us, but I can see it in their eyes that they are thinking, “Oh my God please save yourself the trouble and run.” Of course, we take that with a grain of salt because we know everyone has their own experience with marriage and one person’s happiness, might be another’s misery. So you can’t compare. But I can’t help wondering if they know something we don’t.

My guess is they do… Every day people get married, only to get divorced a few years later. Sometimes before the kids come, sometimes after, sometimes long after the kids have left. And the reasons are so random you can’t even predict it anymore. Someone cheats, how cliché. Someone turns out to be have killed their first husband years before, excellent Discovery ID material. Or someone becomes abusive, that’s always a good one for Dr. Phil. “My husband beats me, I don’t know what to do…” GET THE FUCK OUT! Because one day he will go too far. Or because you don’t want your children to grow up and beat their significant others too. Or worse, become victims themselves. I digress…´

The point is, The D word is all around us, so how are we supposed to block it out? What the advice really says is that we should not use the D-word as a threat or a solution to our relationship disagreements. However difficult they may be. But the book doesn’t tell you how to solve those disagreements, it mostly talks about how to avoid them. So avoidance is good. Like the old saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. Thank you, Ben Franklin. So how do we prevent strain in a marriage? This is the question that led me to snatch up Time magazine’s special edition in the grocery aisle lane the other day. The headline: “The Science of Marriage,” pulled me in and $13.99 later I was ready to tackle the issue – no pun intended.

Here’s a paragraph from the magazine that resonated with me: “One constant {for a healthy marriage} is to avoid contempt at all costs.” Such as making derogatory remarks. Contempt “is also communicated by constant interruption, dismissal of their concerns or withdrawal from conversation”. And check out what therapists say happens, when you allow contempt to breed in your marriage… “It kills vulnerability, among other things. Vulnerability is a prerequisite for intimacy. Without intimacy, commitment is a grind. And without commitment…” well you get the point.

Avoid contempt.

Got it. But isn’t getting off to a great start also important? I think this thought is the reason why brides go crazy trying to plan the perfectly executed wedding. Oh yeah… the wedding, it all comes back to that. But outside of the rose petals, music and drinking, weddings are supposed to be taken seriously. Is that really happening?

The whole purpose of the wedding ceremony is to make a vow out loud in front of witnesses, so that they can help hold you accountable for your promises five, ten, or thirty years later when you’re ready to poke your eyes out rather than see your partner ever again. These witnesses are supposed to remind you of your wedding day promises and hopes and make you feel obligated to keep working at it. But do they really? I’ve been to many weddings and I’ve never been witness to a disagreement between these couples, at least not a serious one, where I could help mediate and remind them of their promises. Because that would be super awkward and who wants to do that?

Then what is the point of witnessing the wedding? I mean, I feel like a hypocrite. When my friend told me he and his wife were separating I felt guilty because I still remember how sweet their wedding vows sounded and how lovely and happy they both looked. Shouldn’t I get a say in this? It’s probably best I don’t, but I still feel partly responsible because I take my job as a witness and free-loading reception participant VERY SERIOUSLY.

And then there’s the wedding industry. It turns everything into a freaking cinderella show and when you finally realize it, you’re five hours deep into watching other couple’s wedding videos, just so you can compare film styles. Because when you’re watching your wedding video in twenty years, the drone footage and dolly pans are really gonna bring back the magic into your marriage. I’m sure that’s what most couples who have been married for more than five years regret about their marriage, not having any drone footage.

Look, I’m guilty of it. I love watching wedding highlight videos, it’s fun for me as a producer to critique the storyline, shitty white balance and angles used. But at the same time, I also relish in the love story. They always look so happy and convinced that they are making the right decision. And I can’t help but wonder what would happen if we knocked on their door ten years later and did a highlight video of their marriage. What would we see?

Marriage is hard, divorce is easy. 

And that’s the bottom line. I remember when a friend got divorced a few years ago. He laughed at how easy it was to go through the divorce. Of course, they didn’t have any real assets or children to fight over, so yes, I suppose that would be easy. But if divorce is so easy, and that’s the way we look at it, then why get married at all?

We’re getting married because we know we are stronger together. No, I didn’t steal that from the Hillary campaign. Ok, I did. But it’s true! I’m amazed every day at how great of a teammate D is, we support each other on our goals, we push each other to work hard, and we lift each other up. We don’t have a perfect relationship, and I’d be lying if I said there aren’t days when I grind my teeth over simple shit, like him leaving lights on. I think marriage is more than just a partnership for life, it’s a challenge to become a better individual as well. The only way to grow is through strain, and sharing everything with another person will bring plenty of strain into your life. The question is, how will you choose to handle it?




  One thought on “The “D” Word. Perfection, part 3

  1. Colleen C McGraw
    March 18, 2017 at 1:25 pm

    So great — I love this confessional and honest tour through a complicated topic. It’s a dialogue you’ll keep having with yourself and D through the years, as you should. I am very optimistic for you both! 🙂


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