Perspectives of Marriage

Perspectives of Marriage: Marrying Perfection

Cold Stone Creamery
Image by ladybugbkt via Flickr

Penina Herskovitz, originally a Clevelander, now lives in Miami Beach with her husband, 15 month old daughter (and one on the way).  She has been teaching preschool for ten years, was a math major and enjoys playing the piano when she gets a chance.

Growing up in today’s world, little girls are constantly bombarded by ideas of what a husband should be like. A husband should be Prince Charming who sweeps his wife off her feet (usually after rescuing her from death by poison fruit with a magical kiss), or he should surprise her with a candle-lit home-cooked gourmet dinner, or he’ll be a Super Shopper, able to buy his wife stunning jewelry and matching dress and shoes as a surprise, and she will love them and, by extension, him.

When I got older, I started reading marriage books, and how marriage takes work, communication, forgiveness, understanding, patience, and knowing when to keep your mouth shut. I hate to sound like everyone else in the world when I say that I was convinced that my husband was going to be perfect. At least, “perfect” according to Disney movies, and Zales and Macy’s commercials.  He’d always know the right thing to say and do for me when I needed it, and I would be a kind and loving (read: awesome) wife who knew exactly how to get him to respond how I needed. I wouldn’t need to work on myself, I was pretty patient and understanding already, right?

Yeah, right.

I met my husband about two and a half years ago. He was the best – smart, wry sense of humour, knew tons of random information (just like me!), was adventurous, and very considerate of what I wanted. If I wanted to go for a walk instead of sitting in Cold Stone Creamery, great, let’s go! Coffee? Soda? Ice tea works great also! He really paid attention
and tried hard to do what I wanted also. Wonderful!

We were married 4 or 6 months after we first met (complex dating story cut short: we didn’t see each other for 2 months after our first meeting, too much travel and waiting on more information). We had a beautiful snowy wedding, I wore my dream dress, he performed shtick I’d rarely seen before, and friends and family told us how happy we both looked.

Three weeks after the wedding I called my shadchan in tears. My Prince didn’t seem to care how hard I worked to make suppers for him, or he didn’t care for the food I made, or didn’t notice when I dressed up nicely for him or cleaned the house. What happened to Mr. Perfect all of a sudden? What happened to our fairy-tale marriage?

Luckily, my shadchan is a very wise woman, with, Baruch Hashem, a beautiful marriage that I’ve looked forward to having myself. She reassured me that it was normal, that marriage isn’t always wine and roses, and there is a period of adjustment. I mean, two people who’ve known each other for a matter of months are suddenly expected to live together, without knowing the other’s preferences, quirks, habits and tastes. And I want that to happen in only three weeks?? She then said the one thing I had read over and over during all those years:

“Marriage isn’t about two people getting what they want for themselves, it’s about two people giving what the other one needs for the sake of the home.”

Those same words now took on an entirely new meaning. I finally understood what they were talking about.  My dream husband was someone who catered to me, did everything I wanted. Yeah, that might be cool to have, but it wouldn’t make a good husband, it would be more like a servant.

She then reminded me of all the great qualities my new husband had, pointing out how they would make my life easier in the long run. Yes, he didn’t notice the house was clean, but, once children are born, wouldn’t that be a good thing not to notice? Ok, so he’s picky about my food, but, thank G-d, he knows his way around the kitchen – sometimes better than me – and he can show me how he likes his meals. Did I really want him to notice everything I did around the house? Or was it better for me that he’s (usually) oblivious and won’t notice when something isn’t the way he wanted? Do I really need him to surprise me with clothing? Or do my tastes change so much that it would be a disaster anyway?

I’ve replayed that conversation in my head over and over in my head for the last two years. Thank G-d, I’ve reached a stage where I understand my husband so much better. He’s not perfect, but neither am I.  My food isn’t always great, even for my tastes, and now I know not to ask “Do you like it?” but rather “How often should I make it?” I know he takes an hour to get ready for bed at night, and that ‘putting something away’ is not the same as ‘putting it back where it used to be’. I know he likes to be involved in chosing our home decorations, but he doesn’t mind being surprised by a new tie, regardless of the colour.

And as I pay more attention to him, I can see more of what he does for me, and appreciate him so much more. He sweeps the floor almost every night, and takes over dishes duty when I’m too tired. He takes such good care of our daughter if I decide to go out, and they have a great time together. And he makes sure the laundry goes into the machine on Sunday morning while playing with the baby so I can sleep late.

So are we now the perfect couple? Who cares? We’re busy working on our marriage.

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10 thoughts on “Perspectives of Marriage: Marrying Perfection

  1. Loved this Penina…thanks for sharing! (and beshaah tovah!)
    Rivki its been great and refreshing getting to read and experience so many different views on marriage. What a fantastic idea.
    Have a great Shabbos.

  2. I remember before we got married I had a chat with a man who had been happily married for many years, I asked him what he thought makes a good marriage. He said that people think that marriage is 50/50, others say it’s 100/100 but the reality is that sometime you need to give 100 and you get nothing back, other times you receive 100 and give nothing back and it sort of varies throughout your life together and that the trick is to be able to give when the spouse needs to receive and know how to receive. I thought it was such a wise advice :)

  3. Hubby and I have been married four years next month, and together for 11 years – and we’re STILL in this phase. He’s an expert cook and 100x better in the kitchen than I am, AND enjoys it more – but that doesn’t mean I should put any less effort or thought into MY meals! I have learned to be VERY open with the lines of communication, to not expect him to always know exactly what I’m thinking, and to trust him that he’s smart and thoughtful, even if him being thoughtful doesn’t always mean I’m 100% thrilled. Man, working on marriage is hard – but SO worth it in the end. :) Love your blog, and WILL follow you!

  4. Before I was married, I felt that I was definitely painted an idyllic picture of what marriage was supposed to look like. But then when I got married, some surprises came up. For instance, I was always taught to look beautiful for my husband, i.e. dressing in trendy clothes, putting on makeup, etc. But then when we got married, my husband would tell me that I don’t need makeup to look beautiful. Another example–my husband loves cooking. At times, I have offered to bake cookies for him so that they’re ready when he gets home. Instead, he insisted that he would get greater pleasure from the baking process.

    1. Aw, that’s so sweet that your husband tells you that you’re beautiful without makeup! But perhaps frustrating if he doesn’t appreciate efforts you put into your appearance. Marriage is funny that way – we have our ideas of what will make our spouse happy, but in the end, it’s doing what will *actually* make them happy that counts. And learning how to reconcile our ideas of that with the reality of it. B’hatzlacha in the process!

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