Made for each other? The perfect couple? That certainly doesn't describe my marriage.
I want to clear up something that has been bothering me for a while now. I'm a big fan of romantic comedies. Hugh Grant is probably the greatest actor in the world and 'Love Actually' might well be the perfect film. However, I am not a big believer in the message that these movies impart -- that one day soon you'll find the love of your life, they'll be perfect for you in every way and you will live happily ever after.
That is, and excuse my crass language here, a load of bollocks. If you think about it for a second, really think about it, would you want to meet your perfect partner?
I have been married for a while now and I'm under the impression (and I think my wife is, too) that I'm going to remain married for quite a while to come. I have a loving and happy relationship and people often comment that my wife and I seem very happy together. Are we each other's perfect partner? No way. Did we meet, instantly click and live happily ever after? Nope. Do we still sometimes want to kill each other and call it a day on this marriage? Definitely.
And that's why it works. My wife and I are very, very different people. She thinks I'm anally retentive, especially about the state of the house; I think she is determined to reintroduce bubonic plague to the populace through sheer lack of basic hygiene. We sometimes have blazing rows about the state of the kitchen floor. But -- we make up, we fight for our marriage and we move on. And that's what I think love is. If our marriage was perfect, if we shared all of the same priorities, the same interests and hobbies, the same everything, wouldn't it be a little too perfect? Wouldn't it be too easy? Wouldn't it get very boring very quickly?
I know that there's a school of thought that when two people come together they somehow combine and become one person -- two halves of the same whole. What nonsense. My wife and I are definitely separate people. We are, if you will, 200 percent when combined, better than the average person. We keep our individual identities, we compromise because we love one another, and we share everything regardless of whether it is perfect or not. My wife puts up with my somewhat depressed, unstable, man-child disposition. I am tasked with reminding her that sleeping 15 hours a day is probably not healthy and that there's a big wide world out there.
We fight for our marriage. We do this because we both want to remain married, to each other, because we love each other. We love each other not because we were meant to be together, but because we have chosen to be with each other out of everybody else in the world. (Yeah, I am capable of wooing anybody in the world. Yeah, I said 'wooing'.) And we compliment each other with our differences. We constantly remind each other why we love each other.
My wife works very hard. She's an excellent mother. (There's a reason my daughter has a favourite parent. Frankly, I'd pick my wife, too). And she still finds time to give me the love and attention that my crazed ego requires. I am often left wondering why she loves me, but it fills me with pride that she does and that in itself makes me a better person, and, I suppose, more lovable.
We made the decision to have children because we knew we were happy and we were capable of providing our kids with a stable and loving family. We have very different styles of parenting. My wife is loving and kind and nurturing and she pretty much epitomises what I'd call the perfect mum. I am a terrible parent, barely able to look after myself, so my daughter and I spend our alone time together helping each other survive the day, having fun, and giggling on the floor when she says something that sounds like a rude word. Do I sometimes forget to change her? Yep. Do we sometimes play with "Mr Hoover and Mrs Mop" a little too much? Sure. But I'm content because I know she gets two very different types of love from my wife and me and that they compliment each other immensely. I can only hope that my daughter is as lucky as I have been in finding someone to share my life with.
So, I suppose what I'm trying to say is this: Hollywood love really is just in the movies. If you're waiting for your ideal partner, they may come along and you may be extremely happy. But it's infinitely more rewarding and much more fun and sustainable to find somebody that you like to be around, that you care for, and to spend a lifetime fighting side by side to make each other happy regardless of your differences. I can only speak from my experience, but as much as I sometimes wish my wife would make my priorities hers and change to be my "ideal person", I know that as soon as she did, the game would be over and I'd lose the wonderfully, beautifully, irritatingly spectacular person I fell in love with, which would turn my romantic comedy into a well-acted but ultimately depressing drama.
And who wants that?