Editor’s Note: I am delighted to present to you a guest post from Corey Allan of Simple Marriage. Upon reading my “Manifesto for Pretty OK” a few weeks ago, which was in part a response to one of his posts, Corey contacted me and suggested we exchange guest posts to extend the discussion. After getting up out of my chair and hopping up and down from one foot to the other, flapping my hands and singing “Corey wants me to do a guest post?!” for a few moments, I regained composure and maturely agreed.Â Here’s what he wrote; my contribution (Entitled “In Defense of Pretty OK“) can be found over on his blog. While you’re there you might as well subscribe to his blog because you’ll love it.
Not long ago our beloved Kathleen came out with a rant regarding something I wrote about good being the enemy of great when it comes to marriage. It seems that she took my words to mean that she’s not great and may never be.
While this is not the message I intended to get across, I’m glad she opened up the discussion.
The intent of the previous post was to encourage married people to not take marriage for granted. As a marriage and family therapist there are far too many times when I see couples waiting until there’s a problem to do anything productive for their marriage.
It’s as if they are going along in life thinking that marriage will happen by chance.
They’re fooling themselves.
Roommates will happen by chance, occasional routine sex will happen by chance, ho hum marital malaise will happen by chance, but not a vibrant and passionate marriage.
There are definitely times when simply surviving the day or the week is completely understandable. But when this becomes the norm, to me, that’s a problem.
People often fall victim to thinking that they need to work on their marriage, as if it’s an outside of themselves entity. They’ve got it backwards. The marriage is working on them. This is the main mechanism for growth.
So what we’re really talking about is growing up into better people individually within the relationship. And a tremendous marker of our growth and development is a greater comfort in our own skin.
Let’s look at this a different way.
Regardless of what your fairy-tale beliefs were as a child or what Hollywood continues to portray when it comes to marriage, there is no such thing as a perfect marriage. I mean, come on, who really rolls over in the morning and passionately kisses their spouse? Ever hear of morning breath?
While we’re on the subject, there’s also no such thing as a perfect life. There’s only been one person who was perfect, and He was put to death on a cross.
While we may strive for perfection, it’s impossible to attain. And the interesting thing is, once you attain whatever you were striving for, it often ends up hollow and short lived. This is similar to happiness. Striving for happiness as your only goal is too vague and ever-changing. So as the old saying says: “rather than focusing on changing the wind, adjust your sails.”
Instead of seeking a perfect marriage, a perfect life, a rose-petal-covered-bed-with-a-soft-breeze-blowing-through-the-windows-in-the-morning type of romance, what if you created a marriage and life that means something?
Part of Freud’s theory is wrong – humans don’t have pleasure seeking as a their primary drive (although our culture seems to believe this). I believe we search for meaning more than anything else. We want to know our life matters. That we mean something.
Creating a life and a marriage that means something is entirely different than creating a marriage designed for happiness.
So once you recognize that perfection is unattainable, and you come to grips with the fact that relationships are mechanisms designed for your growth – you are one step closer to greatness.
And the interesting thing about tasting greatness in life, you discover that greatness is indeed great, and that pretty okay sucks. In other words, you’re less likely to settle for less than great.
But hear me out. When you become aware of this and acknowledge where you are in the journey, you’re already beyond pretty okay and one step closer to great. It’s an awareness that produces greatness.
It all boils down to this – life is a journey, not a destination. The same thing is true of marriage. You don’t one day arrive at a great marriage, it’s part of the journey. Regardless where you are in your journey, once you recognize where you are, you just took another step towards great.
So when you go on a rant advocating the pretty okay life, I’d say by the mere process of the rant, you’re already beyond pretty okay and into great!