Voltaire warned us not to let the perfect become the enemy of the good. That’s not a bad motto for marriage, in one sense. Can we call a good marriage a “good” marriage, or in your mind, is that a “bad” marriage? What I mean by this is that some people seem to think unless they have a perfect marriage, they have a “bad” marriage. They wouldn’t put up with a “good” marriage; they want something even better.
If we take our agenda from Matthew 6:33, however, we know that much fulfillment—even the source of our fulfillment—comes from outside our marriage.
So, in this light, a good marriage can be a pleasant place to live. If the only thing I have to live for is my marriage, I could imagine not being willing to put up with a good marriage. I might think I need to reach for a super-extraordinary one. (But remember, just because you shoot for something doesn’t mean you obtain it.)
You’ve heard me speak enthusiastically of Justin and Trisha Davis’ fine book, Beyond Ordinary, so this is not an attack on their premise. I agree with Justin and Trisha that setting the bar too low can set us up for all manner of infidelities. I wouldn’t want an “ordinary” marriage if ordinary is defined by the average marriage in our culture today (which barely—or doesn’t—survive divorce).
Justin and Trisha offer an important reminder not to set the bar too low.
But another reminder is that, at a certain level, we do equal harm by setting it too high.
We know no single human relationship can be ultimately satisfying. At some point, we have to be able to say, “This is a good marriage. Given all the other loves I have, with my children, my friends, my walk with God, my soul is overflowing with gratitude, even if my marriage never gets ‘better’ than it is right now.”
In other words, instead of pounding our marriage for what it’s not, we rejoice in what it is. We call a “good” marriage a “good” marriage.
That doesn’t sound like such a bad thing to say, does it? What do you think?
[photo: Bailey Weaver, Creative Commons]