Thursday, November 12, 2009

Holland for Couples

As you might have noticed, I really enjoyed getting away with the Bionic Man for a few days last week. We took this picture using the timer on our camera.  I think it turned out great, because I think I look great!  Bionic Man doesn't like the way his ear looks.  Minor complaint in comparison to the benefits of me looking skinny, so I've posted this picture anyway.

But the way we look when we are kissing is not supposed to be the point of today's post.  Well, maybe it is.

Sometimes, I think we married folk get hung up on the idea of a "picture perfect" relationship.  You know, the snapshot version you've seen of other couples' relationships.  You might be doing it right now, as in, "Oh, look at that.  Ruth and the Bionic Man are always doing the coolest things together!  He takes her on business trips and totally finds time for romance.  And she has the most fantastic hair.  My husband never takes me on his business trips.  And I can't get my hair to grow past my shoulders."

Well, you might not be thinking that, specifically, about us, but I have a feeling most of us have had similar thoughts about someone else.  And usually we base it on a "snapshot" version of their life: the time we saw them at a Christmas party, when we saw them through the window of a fancy restaurant, the time we saw them at church holding hands, or maybe it is the family portrait above their mantel.  We see these "perfect" moments, when everyone is happy, or dressed up, or on their best behavior.....and then, unfortunately, we use them as a measuring stick for our own relationships.

Stop it.  (I'm saying that to myself, too.)

The reality is--and I'm sure of this--every couple has their moments.  Their moments that they wouldn't want preserved in snapshot form.  Like when I backed the new van into the other car--didn't even check my mirrors--and the Bionic Man was so mad he couldn't speak to me for, ahem, some time.  Like when the Bionic Man spent days looking for the perfect Christmas present for me, gave hints of the thrills to come, and I opened the large box to find new cooking pots, and I was really, really offended.  Like when the Bionic man.....well, I think it is just better for me to let bygones be bygones.

My parents recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.  They still kiss each other hello and goodbye and goodnight, hold hands, and Dad never fails to open a door for Mom.  They compliment each other frequently, and they are an excellent team.  They are so right for each other.  But they still have their un-snapshot worthy moments!  I'll never forget one roadtrip we took together when I was in college.  I was sitting in the backseat as we made the two day drive.  My mom would make a comment, and my dad would look through the rearview mirror at me, and roll his eyes.  Later, my dad would make a comment, and my mom would turn to look at me and roll her eyes.  I thought it was hilarious, they kept it up the whole trip.  And then I noticed, after I had said something, that they turned to each other AND ROLLED THEIR EYES!

I just think that is a great example of imperfect unity.  They might not be perfect people yet, but they are perfectly imperfect for each other.  And they are not nagging at each other to become perfect, they are growing in that direction together.

And, whether you get it or not, that's my point.

To get that lovely shot of us kissing on Lovers' Point, the Bionic Man and I had to jump through a few hoops, so to speak.  Before we exited our car, we had to take off our nice shoes and put on our hiking shoes.  Since the Bionic Man hadn't packed any jeans, he looked pretty funny in his nice slacks and hiking shoes.  The rocks we are sitting on are quite a ways from the grassy park they jut out from, so the Bionic Man and I had to pick our way across rocks and crevices, trying to avoid the steep edges of the cliff that dropped down into treacherous waters below.  I had to sit precariously on a rather sharp rock while the Bionic Man figured out how the timer worked.  He didn't make it into the picture a couple of times.  I patiently waited for him to get it to work, while a seagull overhead used me for target practice.  (Fortunately, his aim was off.)  Bionic Man used his engineering degree to figure the camera out, tripped over several rocks as he ran to my precarious perch, we kissed, and then he asked, "Do you have any gum?"

Just remember, when you are viewing a snapshot of someone else's picture-perfect marriage, that you haven't seen the effort that went to getting there.  Be grateful for the journey you are taking to make your own snapshot moments, and find a way to treasure the fun of getting there.  I now have a sweet picture of the Bionic Man and I kissing by the ocean, but I have a hilarious memory of what it took to get that picture.

As we picked our way back to the shore across those rocks, we saw that someone had spray-painted a marriage proposal on the rocks.  "Ana, will you marry me?' the Bionic Man read aloud.

"I hope she said no," I sniffed.  "He spraypainted his proposal on scenery!"

"Yeah, who wants to marry a graffiti artist?" The Bionic Man agreed.


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