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?
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.
- Marriage isn’t Perfect (lifeinthemarriedlane.com)