The Line of Compromise

If you ever want to render your mother speechless, ask her how she knew your dad was “the one.” Ask her how she knew—even realizing that he had habits and tendencies that would drive her absolutely crazy—that she could spend the rest of her life loving this flawed human being. Go ahead and ask her. If she’s anything like my mom, she’ll open her mouth at least a half dozen times before she finally forces out, “Well…”

But, you see, I had to know. I had to know because a few weeks ago, Cassi Clerget wrote the most beautiful letter to her future husband and, in light of her confession that she’s not ready to meet him yet—that she’s afraid of who she might become and what she might try to make him become—I had a startling realization of my own.

When I envision my future husband, I don’t picture him with flaws. It’s not like I don’t know he will have flaws, it’s just that I never really thought of what they might be. On those days that I sit down and dream about who my future husband might be, I tend to imagine that he looks something like James Garner (or Rock Hudson—I’d totally settle for Rock Hudson) and he’s patient and gentle and loving and… well, he’s perfect, actually. Nothing less than perfect.

And to be honest, that’s not really fair to him. Because no matter what he is in my fantasies, he’s human (just like I am) and he’s going to have flaws (just like I do). Or, as a friend of mine so eloquently stated when talking about his own dating relationship, “She’s got so many things going for her, and yet she likes Twilight.” Well, I’m not sure that’s a deal breaker (though another friend jokingly advised him to “dump her now”), but it does make me wonder about the line of compromise.

You’ve been told not to compromise in relationships? That’s funny, I grew up hearing the same thing. But when I look at it realistically, I find that there is going to be compromise. Let’s face it. They don’t make guys like James Garner anymore. Nobody’s perfect. And if I spend the rest of my life holding out for that flawless character I’ve created in my mind… well, I’ll spend the rest of my life holding out for that flawless character I’ve created in my mind.

So what I asked my mom on that infamous day she struggled for answers is, “How do you know? How do you know where to draw the line? At what point do you accept that a guy is flawed and human and at what point do you hold out for someone better?”

Because, thanks to Cassi and her beautiful, vulnerable heart, I’m left wondering if I’d force my guy to be something more than he was meant to be. I’m left hoping I’ll never settle for someone who is close to good enough only to live the rest of my life wondering if there was something better. I’m left pondering a question my mom couldn’t answer.

How will I know?
How will I keep from demanding too much or expecting too little?
And more importantly, how shall I live in the meantime?

love like this

be amazed

They Lived

Yesterday, I had one of those days. You know, the kind of day where you fume about  stupid stuff and think things like, “I’m not going to get married for the next hundred bajillion years because I don’t even want to deal with this junk.” It took moving 450 miles away from home for me to realize that guy/girl friendships are difficult to come by. I don’t know if that fact makes me want to hug my old guy friends and apologize for all the years I’ve taken them for granted, or slap them in the face and yell at them for making me believe that our relationships were normal. I think what I felt yesterday was a combination of the two. I could have walked right up to one of them and shouted, “Thanks for being amazing, jerk.”

Well, I did what any girl would do in such a situation. I grabbed a bowl of chocolate ice cream and popped Ever After into the VCR. By the time it was over, I felt a whole lot better about the topic of men and marriage. What I love best about that particular version of Cinderella is that the characters have flaws. Prince Henry was selfish, arrogant, didn’t listen very well, and acted like a jerk when he learned the truth (to which he had previously refused to listen). And Danielle weaved a web of horrible lies then tried to keep the pretense going. What makes the story so enchanting is that they manage to overcome their flaws and find a happy ending. I’ve been told that chick-flicks are not good for a girl’s emotional health, but I needed that movie last night. I don’t think it’s bad to hold out for “Prince Henry” – as long as you’re willing to accept that he does have flaws.

The movie comes to a conclusion with this beautiful line: “And while Cinderella and her prince did live happily ever after, the point, gentlemen, is that they lived.” They lived. And while those words were said to convey the idea that Cinderella was more than just a folk tale, I think that line carries a much greater meaning. Take Prince Henry’s line, for example: “You swim alone, climb rocks, rescue servants… Is there anything you don’t do?”

The character of Danielle De Barbarac did not only live “happily ever after,” but “once upon a time.” She embraced the moments and lived the journey. She may be a fictional character, but she’s still a great reminder that we weren’t meant to live for the “happily ever after.” We were made for the “once upon a time.” “Happily ever after” means that the story is over. No more adventures. No more life. One day, I hope I’ll make it to “happily ever after,” but as for today, I simply want to live.