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My Perfectly Imperfect Marriage

Updated: Jan 9, 2022

I was sitting in church not long ago when I noticed a friend I hadn’t seen in awhile. Something about her didn’t feel quite right to me. Ten minutes into the lesson, she picked up her purse to walk out so I got up and followed her out into the hall.

When I caught up with her I asked, “Are you OK?”

“Yes, and no.” she said.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

“I am getting a divorce.”

I don’t know how long the silence was but I was in complete shock. We had been friends and I didn’t even know this was in the works. “What?” I finally muttered.

“I’m getting divorced.” She said with a tone of finality.

My mind started reeling. I had no idea they were even having problems. She started to explain that it had been in process for a while, and they were just starting to tell people about it. I had flashbacks to my parents divorce when I was 12 and all the complexities that come when you separate two lives that had become one. The couple had children and one child was serving a mission. I felt such compassion for her. This wasn’t going to be easy. My heart ached for the road ahead. I finally asked, “What can I do to help?”

“Nothing.” She replied quickly. “You wouldn’t understand. You have the perfect marriage.”

The Perfect What?

I was caught off guard again. The perfect marriage?? I thought she was being sarcastic and waited for a smile or a laugh to break the tension but it didn’t come. She looked me in the eye and didn’t break my gaze. I became very conscious of what seemed like miles that separated us in that moment.

I wanted to tell her that I struggled too. I wanted to tell her of the challenges my husband and I faced. I wanted to tell her how there were nights that I cried myself to sleep. I wanted to tell her my marriage counselor’s number was programmed into my phone. There was so much I wanted to say, but that moment was not about me – it was about her, and so I faintly smiled.

“I’m here if you change your mind.” I said. We hugged and she left the building.

Her words kept echoing in my head. I went back to class but didn’t hear anything from the lesson. “The perfect marriage?” What does that even mean?

When someone references “the perfect marriage”, I assumed that meant a couple never had any problems. They matched perfectly together. There was an abundance of peace and love in the home. A couple that could finish each others’ sentences and read each others’ thoughts. I pictured them always spending time together, and always serving each other with love.

Although we have elements of those things in our marriage, I realized just how unrealistic “the perfect marriage” is. How can two IMPERFECT people EVER add up to a perfect marriage? I kept thinking. If I don’t have the perfect marriage, what do I have? The answer came gently. While I may not have “the perfect marriage”, I realized I have the perfect marriage…for me.

I believe that we came to this Earth by choice, not by chance. I believe our spirits existed before our body did and as spirit children of divine and heavenly parents, we wanted to progress. We wanted to grow. We wanted our gifts to expand. There were things we wanted to learn. We wanted to become like our Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother with all their glorious attributes. They presented a plan that we could come to Earth: first to receive physical bodies, and second, to be given opportunities to learn and grow by our own experiences. If you are living on this Earth today, you chose the plan. You chose to come here to learn.

As I thought of my marriage, and all the ways my husband and I were as different as night and day, I realized he was the perfect one for me!! He came as my teacher to help me learn what I wanted to learn in this journey of life and we were in one crazy classroom together!

Opposites Attract

In the beginning of our courtship and marriage, I thought we were so much alike! We loved being together, we loved the outdoors and activities together, and we loved the church. I thought we were set! I didn’t fully understand the implications of the idea that “opposites attract” until after we were married. Andrew and I have been married 33 years this year and I will tell you just a few of our differences that we have found over the years.

* Andrew is logical and I am intuitive. He wants to check the facts and understand all the details of a decision, while I would rather pray about it and would be inclined to trust my intuition.

* Andrew is a morning person and I am a night owl. I would rather stay up until 5:00 am than wake up at 5:00 am. He is bright and cheerful the minute he wakes up and I need time to fully come alive in the morning.

* I love people and socializing. I love to share an evening or a meal with friends. Andrew gets all the socializing he needs at work every day and so just wants time with me and the kids when he gets home.

* Andrew always thinks about the future and the schedule. He has our family finances mapped out for the next 20 years. He has a GPS so he can tell me the precise minute he will be home each day. I am better at living in the moment – savoring every opportunity, every conversation, all the magic of life. I don’t even own a watch.

* I am a creator and risk taker. I love the thrill of creating a new business, or coming up with a new ideas. I love being spontaneous and trying new things. Andrew prefers the known. He describes himself as risk adverse. If he wanted to try something new, he would take months to plan and prepare for it.

The list goes on and on. I love the spirit of the gospel. Andrew loves the doctrine of the gospel. I love deep conversations with life-time friends. Andrew small talks to people he meets on the elevator that he will never see again. Andrew prefers not to talk about problems when they arise. I would rather talk a problem through when it arises so I can let go and move on. Andrew is as constant as the north star. I am in a constant state of evolution. Andrew likes to schedule vacations down to the minute. I love to have time to relax on vacations.

When I really think of our personalities, we are truly, truly, opposites. You can’t live in a house with two strong, opposite people trying to create one life together without knocking heads once in awhile. Not only were we two different personalities trying to work together, we are two imperfect people doing our best to work through life together. That’s challenging!

Some challenges are big and when our differences are unsolvable, we turn to an outside source for help. A counselor, trusted leader, or wise mentor can often see what you are not seeing in your relationship. Other challenges are small, and one of us is willing to sacrifice our desires for the needs of the other.

For the majority of the problems, there is give and take on both sides. Over all the years of our marriage, there are a dozen principles that have helped us work through our differences. If your marriage is also imperfectly perfect, try applying one of these principles when things get tough:

1 | Prioritize Issues

Monte J. Brough, told us before we got married that we needed to always rate our problems on a scale of 1-10. One being not important, and 10 being critical. He challenged us to let go of the low scoring issues, and save our energy for the things that were really important to us. This has been so helpful since there are so many conflicting ideas between us, we could be in conflict all day long if we fought for every one of them.

Being married taught me to compromise.

2 | Pray Nightly to Express Gratitude

On our wedding day, the officiator gave us some lasting advice. We were to kneel together every night and take turns saying the prayer. Whoever was voice for the night was supposed to say something genuine and specific to express gratitude and acknowledge the good things in your spouse. We have followed this principle diligently for 33 years which means we have said roughly 12,045 compliments to each other over the course of our marriage. That will help smooth out a few rough edges.

One thing we laugh about in our marriage now, is that whenever we get in an argument, for some odd reason, it is always my night to pray! (I wonder if Andrew checks the calendar before he brings up an item to discuss?!) Sometimes there is a LONG pause before my prayer starts because it takes some time to think of a genuine compliment to express when I am upset with him! It’s always worth it - soft words spoken often melt the hardness of the heart.

Being married taught me to always look for the good in others.

3 | Love your Spouse with Charity

Our daughter recently got married and a wise leader told her that marriage wasn’t about choosing the “right one”. Marriage is about choosing the one you love and then working hard to make your marriage the right choice. Marriage takes conscious effort and work. It takes love. It takes charity. If you read the definition of charity in the scriptures, you will find quite a list of the many ways to apply that love: suffer long, be kind, envy not, vaunteth not yourself, be not puffed up, don’t behave unseemly, seek not your own, be not easily provoked, think no evil; rejoice not in iniquity, rejoice in truth, bear all things, believe all things, hope all things, endure all things. You have plenty of opportunities to practice all of those in marriage.

Being married taught me a higher way to love.

4 | Love and Accept Yourself

In the beginning of our marriage, I was very insecure about being a wife and mother and looked to Andrew for my self–esteem. I needed a lot of validation and re-assurance from him. This put a strain and some pressure into our marriage. I put my happiness in his hands and that was not his responsibility. I am the only one that can make myself happy. When I was able to heal those parts of me that were broken, and could love myself with all my weaknesses and gifts, it freed up our marriage for Andrew to love me the way he wanted to, instead of me needing constant love from him. When I couldn’t love myself fully, I couldn’t love him fully either. Your relationship with yourself affects every other relationship in your life. As I learned to love and accept myself, I have learned to love and accept Andrew and I have so much more love to give.

Being married taught me to love who God created me to be.

5 | Check your Ego at the Door

One of the challenges of two strongly different people, is the challenge of letting go of ego. It is the natural man in us that wants to prove who is right! It is easy to believe there is a right way and a wrong way to do things (and BTW, everyone usually see their way as the right way). While this may be true for some issues, many, many situations that arise in a marriage can be solved in a variety of ways. Letting go of trying to prove who is right, and thinking of the easiest and most peaceful way to solve the situation can be helpful. Be willing to say, “I’m sorry” and mean it. It takes a mature person to admit they are wrong.

Marriage taught me that the extent I give in to my pride, is the extent of trouble I am likely to cause in a day.

6 | Celebrate Your Differences

When you can get past the judgment of who is right and who is wrong, being married to someone who is opposite of you can be helpful in many situations. While our kids were little, being a night owl would allow me to stay up late with them, while Andrew would rise early to meet their needs and let me sleep. When problems arise on vacations and things don’t go as Andrew planned, I can be spontaneous and create new solutions to fill our time. When decisions come up, we counsel together – Andrew does the research to find the best options, and then we pray together for confirmation and unity in our decision. His knowledge of the gospel has helped our children understand the doctrine while my connection to the Holy Ghost helped them identify the whisperings of the Spirit and their feelings about the gospel. Honor what each of your bring to the table and utilize your resources for good.

Marriage taught me to honor all the gifts of the spirit, and differing strengths.

7 | Obey the Commandments

When some friends of ours went to their bishop to discuss their marital problems, and potential divorce, their church leader simply asked, “Which commandments are you breaking?” When God created the plan of happiness, it was simply that – guidelines for your own happiness. As a child, I thought the commandments were important rules to keep so I didn’t get in trouble. As an adult, I see the wisdom and love of our Heavenly Father to tell us what will bring us the most happiness in life. I am happier when I put God first. I am happier when I love my fellow man. I am happy when I honor the Sabbath, do not lie, or envy another. I am happy that my life is not filled with stories of regrets. When we obey the commandments, we are already on our way to happiness.

Marriage taught me obedience brings blessings.

8 | Create Something New

As children of Heavenly parents, creation is our birthright. We were not sent here to be acted upon in our lives, but to act. We were not sent here just to endure what life throws at us, but to create the life we want. Marriage is no exception to the realm of creation that is within our power. If you are not happy with how you two are communicating, start talking about how to change your patterns. If you are not experiencing fulfillment in your relationship, find the cause of your sadness and uproot it. If you are not loving your spouse fully, apply the principles of charity and start today! Marriage is a living creation that is built daily by our actions. If a garden is left to itself, the weeds will overrun the crop. No matter how hard you worked on your marriage last year, if you are not working on it today, you will not get the harvest you desire. Creation is fueled by love. Consciously create what you want in your marriage and do it with love.

Marriage taught me that I am the creator of my relationships.

9 | Draw Near to God

You may have seen a diagram of a triangle where God is at the top, and the husband and wife are at the bottom in each corner. The message is, the closer we are to God, the closer we will be to each other. So next time you come to a point that can’t be solved in the marriage, quit arguing and trying to prove who is right. Instead, spend some time alone on your knees, some time with the scriptures, and spend time in holy places. Focus on coming closer to God and strengthening that relationship. You will find great wisdom and treasures of knowledge in His inspiration. You will be connected to your heart and be worthy of the promptings of the Holy Ghost. This is the time to come back together to work on your issue. Solutions to your problems will be borne out of light and love, instead of anger and ego.

Marriage taught me my relationship with God is number one in my life.

10 | Hold on to Hope

Hope means we believe things can and will be better than they currently are. When we lose hope over our marriage, we believe things will never change and that there is nothing worth working for. Not every marriage will survive. But it is possible that any difficult marriage could become better. Start creating in your mind what you want your marriage to become. When God created this Earth, He created it spiritually first before it was physically manifested. We must do the same. Create in your mind and heart what you want your marriage to be. Write down your vision. Have the courage to hope that things could be different and start treating your spouse as if they already are. Plant the seeds of hope in your heart and water them daily with thoughts, actions and desires. Do all you can to fulfill your part of the change. Notice how things shift as you open the door of possibility again in your life.

Marriage taught me to never give up.

11 | Take Responsibility for Yourself

In the beginning of our marriage, when things were going well, life was blissful and good. But when things went wrong, neither of us wanted to accept responsibility and so we often started playing The Blame Game. (You may already know how to play.) Our statements always started with “You…” and it sounded something like this: “Well, if you had not said this…. then”, or “If you remembered to do this then….”, or “If you hadn’t made me do this….then”, etc. It was line after line of guilt and blame – always aimed at the other person. It was a vicious cycle of avoidance. It never ended well and there was never a winner, but we played that game over and over again. When I finally realized I was not taking responsibility for my actions in my marriage, it took a huge dose of humility to start playing a new game. It sounded something like this: “I realized that what I said might have been hurtful and I am sorry.” Or, “When I made that decision, I didn’t know it would upset you and I apologize for not checking with you first.” The statements always started with “I” and usually ended with an apology. In the end, we both won and things were settled much more quickly.

Marriage taught me to have integrity in relationships.

12 | Be Kind

Marriage is a unique relationship that involves more vulnerability than any other relationship you will have. You will see each other at their worst. You will share more than you have ever shared. You will need each other more than you have ever relied on anyone. You will go through the good and the not-as-good together. You will see each other succeed. You will see each other fail. You will see and experience it all together in a marriage. You will know each other’s weaknesses. Do not ever take advantage of that sacred connection you share. Be kind. Always. You can say what you need to say with kindness. Mark Twain said, “Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” Kindness transcends difficulties. Kindness lessens pain. Kindness is a balm to the weary and broken heart. Kindness pardons others’ weaknesses and faults. (Pres. Benson)

Marriage taught me I may regret harsh words, but I will never regret kindness.

There is no relationship on Earth that compares to the beauty of a marriage filled with love. My biggest surprise as a newly married woman was how fun marriage could be. I don’t ever take my marriage for granted and I am so grateful for the things I have learned from our challenges in marriage.

In a month, Andrew and I will embark on our annual trip for just the two of us. Once a year we get away from the pressures of home, family, work and church to remember why we fell in love, and to fall in love all over again. It has proved to be invaluable in keeping our marriage full of life, passion and love. It is my favorite week of the year.

These 12 tips have literally saved our marriage. Try focusing on one a month and see how it improves your relationship. If you want to find greater joy and happiness in your marriage, plan a trip, love with a full heart, let go of ego, prioritize your challenges, live with gratitude, love completely, obey the commandments, draw near unto God, hold onto hope, create something new, appreciate your differences, take responsibility for yourself and be kind to one another. You will end up thanking your spouse for giving you the opportunity to learn some of your most valuable life lessons. You will also praise God for knowing exactly what you needed in your perfectly imperfect marriage.

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You are welcome friend! Bless you dear Minda!! Thank you for writing. Always remember that I believe in YOU!!!


Dear sweet Robin...I am literally in tears! This is so incredibly beautiful and full of so much love. Thank you for posting it. It is exactly what I needed ❤ You are amazing and I love you.

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