Today I came across an online article that claimed, “If your husband does these 15 things, never leave him.” I usually don’t click on articles like that, but for some reason I found myself clicking to read further. At first glance, the article was pretty much what I expected. If he listens to you, if he takes care of you, if you feel safe with him, if he trusts you, if he helps out around the house, if he makes you a better person… you’ve got a keeper! As I read it, I saw how my husband definitely checks off each of the 15 items they designate as the traits in a good husband and I was thankful for him, especially today, as it is his birthday and I’ve already spent some time thanking God for him and telling him what he means to me. I guess the article achieved its purpose. But only for a minute.
Immediately after I went through the list, I was hit with a completely different thought. What if my answers had been different? What if I’d gone through that checklist and my husband had only checked off two-thirds of their requirements? What if he’d only checked off half, or a quarter? Does that mean that my husband is NOT a keeper? Does that mean I can/should get rid of him? Maybe this article, which I am sure was intended to help wives feel good about their husbands, could cause more confusion and harm than good in some marriages.
I’m thinking of the wife who married her first love– someone who was attentive, trusting, and all those wonderful things when they were younger but who isn’t now as affectionate and romantic as he used to be. What if she married a man who had endured some personal struggles or losses and is therefore not really emotionally equipped to console her when she is sad, or laugh at silly things with her? What if her husband has a medical condition that keeps him from helping her with housework or making her complicated life easier? What if he actually complicates her life? Are these men not keepers? Should their wives discard them?
I fear that somehow, somewhere along the lines, we have bought into this lie that an ideal marriage is made up of two ideal, nearly perfect people. We have bought into the lie that we need to be out there looking for the perfect person. We have believed that when we marry someone, they owe it to us to make our life easier, happier, better, always… forever… ’til death do us part. While that is a beautiful hope and what all marriages should strive for, I see no evidence that it should be the standard or the reality. Before you get mad at me, allow me to explain what I mean.
When I look at the people around me who have been married for a long time, I don’t see perfection or “keeper” checklists. What I see every single time is two imperfect people who have built a life together while laughing, crying, overcoming, struggling, growing, hurting, hoping, and compromising. I see people who have decided not to match their mate to a list, but that who their mate is determined their list, and that who their spouses are– imperfections, irks, and shortcomings included– and their commitment to their marriage is what makes them keepers. They look at their flawed spouse and say, “I see you, exactly as you are– no more, no less. You are mine, and because you are, and you are happy to keep me, I’m happy to keep you!” There are no conditions, just a conviction in their core that this is the person they are supposed to go through life with. That is enough for them, and in that, they find everything they need for both the better and the worst, the richer and poorer, the sickness and the health.
I don’t see perfection or “keeper” checklists.
I don’t know about you, but I can admit that for me this is much better news than the checklist in the article.
I tell him often how thankful I am that, at my most unlovable, he draws near and loves me in a way I don’t deserve. He loves me in a way that smooths out all my rough edges and gives me a place to fall apart, knowing that I won’t have to rebuild alone. You see, I know how deeply flawed I am. I know that I have a lot of great qualities but they are mixed with things that make me difficult to love at times, and I’m so happy my husband never measures my standing with him against a checklist that I may or may not pass depending on the day/season/amount of rest and food I’ve had (yes, hangry is a legitimate thing). I tell him often how thankful I am that, at my most unlovable, he draws near and loves me in a way I don’t deserve. He loves me in a way that smooths out all my rough edges and gives me a place to fall apart, knowing that I won’t have to rebuild alone.
I’m so thankful that when he married me, he decided I would be a keeper for life. I’m happy that he makes it so clear that he is far better than any checklist can encompass and there is no way I’d ever consider him anything less than a gift beyond what I imagined, asked for, or could ever deserve. He isn’t a list. He is my perfect match, my best friend, my home, my heart– after over 13 years together, he is the butterflies in my stomach when he makes his way towards me and our eyes meet, the shoulder my head fits perfectly into when I need a place to rest or cry, he is the hand at the small of my back as we walk into any situation, letting me know that I am strong and he is right there with me, he is the author of ten thousand laughs, and thousands more to come. How could I not want to keep him? To lose him would be to lose myself because we truly are one.
If you have a deeply flawed spouse, but you know he loves you, and he sees your imperfections clearly but still decides you’re a keeper, keep him. Even if everything else is falling apart– especially if everything else if falling apart! Good marriages aren’t always built while sitting in the sand and sipping cocktails. More often than not, they are built by treading water and helping each other get back up on the surfboard while trying to ride the waves.
By Jackie Hauer
Check the original article from her very own site at The Haute Mess Life