The Secret to a Lasting Marriage: Embrace Imperfection
- Deb Graham Contributor
- Updated Jul 06, 2009
On that evening so long ago, my mom placed a plate of eggs, sausage, and extremely burned toast in front of my dad. I remember waiting to see if anyone noticed! Yet all my dad did was reach for his toast, smile at my mom, and ask me how my day was at school.
I don’t remember what I told him that night, but I do remember watching him smear butter and jelly on that toast and eat every bite! When I got up from the table that evening, I remember hearing my mom apologize to my dad for burning the toast. And I’ll never forget what he said: “Baby, I love burned toast.”
Later that night, I went to kiss Daddy good night and I asked him if he really liked his toast burned. He wrapped me in his arms and said, “Debbie, your momma put in a hard day at work today and she’s real tired. And besides—a little burnt toast never hurt anyone!”
In bed that night, I thought about that scene at dinner…and the kindness my daddy showed my mom. To this day, it’s a cherished memory from my childhood that I’ll never forget. And it’s one that came to mind just recently when Jack and I sat down to eat dinner.
I had arrived home late…as usual…and decided we would have breakfast food for dinner. Some things never change, I suppose!
To my amazement, I found the ingredients I needed, and quickly began to cook eggs, turkey sausage, and buttered toast. Thinking I had things under control, I glanced through the mail for the day. It was only a few minutes later that I remembered that I had forgotten to take the toast out of the oven!
Now, had it been any other day -- and had we had more than two pieces of bread in the entire house -- I would have started all over. But it had been one of those days and I had just used up the last two pieces of bread. So burnt toast it was!
As I set the plate down in front of Jack, I waited for a comment about the toast. But all I got was a “Thank you!” I watched as he ate bite by bite, all the time waiting for some comment about the toast. But instead, all Jack said was, “Babe, this is great. Thanks for cooking tonight. I know you had a hard day.”
As I took a bite of my charred toast that night, I thought about my mom and dad…how burnt toast hadn’t been a deal-breaker for them. And I quietly thanked God for giving me a marriage where burnt toast wasn’t a deal-breaker either!
You know, life is full of imperfect things…and imperfect people. I’m not the best housekeeper or cook. And you might be surprised to find out that Jack isn’t the perfect husband! He likes to play his music too loud, he will always find a way to avoid yard work, and he watches far too many sports. Believe it or not, watching “Golf Academy” is not my idea of a great night at home!
But somehow, in the past 37 years, Jack and I have learned to accept the imperfections in each other. Over time, we have stopped trying to make each other in our own mold and have learned to celebrate our differences. You might say that we’ve learned to love each other for who we really are!
For example, I like to take my time, I’m a perfectionist, and I’m even-tempered. I tend to work too much and sleep too little. Jack, on the other hand, is disciplined, studious, an early riser, and is a marketer’s dream consumer. I count pennies, and Jack could care less! Where he is strong, I am weak, and vice versa.
And while you might say that Jack and I are opposites, we’re also very much alike. I can look at him and tell you what he’s thinking. I can predict his actions before he finalizes his plans. On the other hand, he knows whether I’m troubled or not the moment I enter a room.
We share the same goals. We love the same things. And we are still best friends. We‘ve traveled through many valleys and enjoyed many mountaintops. And yet, at the same time, Jack and I must work every minute of every day to make this thing called “marriage” work!
What I’ve learned over the years is that learning to accept each other’s faults - and choosing to celebrate each other’s differences - is the one of the most important keys to creating a healthy, growing, and lasting marriage relationship.
And that’s my prayer for you today. That you will learn to take the good, the bad, and the ugly parts of your married life and lay them at the feet of Jesus. Because in the end, He’s the only One who will be able to give you a marriage where burnt toast isn’t a deal-breaker!
Originally posted February 19, 2008.
Deb Graham, is active in Christian retailing where she manages a mega church bookstore. She is a contributor to various publications in that industry. She also serves on the board of directors for the National Religious Broadcasters, FamilyNet TV Network and PowerPoint Ministries. She and her husband, Jack are the parents of three grown children and have one grandson.