By Steve McIlwain
Ash and I are settling nicely into our new area. We moved here about six months ago and are learning the city and meeting new people. We have also begun the process of purchasing a home. The home buying process is both exhilarating and exhausting. There are exciting moments of exploring new homes and neighborhoods and pondering the possibilities of our would-be life there. But there are also moments of despair filled with frustrations of trying to calibrate our desires and wondering if the perfect home even exists.
Our process has centered on discussing what’s important to us in a home and property, pouring over online listings, visiting houses, debating what we like and don’t like, and repeating the whole cycle all over again. The process comes with a somewhat vague feeling that there are other potential buyers out there with higher and lower price ranges. The buyers in the higher price range have better options, bigger houses, larger properties, and newer features. At times we find ourselves (at least I do) wishing that we were in their budget range. If only our budget matched theirs, then we could find the perfect home. All our cares would melt away, and we would be able to buy our dream home, move-in, and live the dream. There are also buyers with a lower price point than ours. We don’t think about them much. I mean, I wish our budget would be higher, but not really lower. So instead of being grateful for the budget we do have, I go about trying to stretch our dollar as far as we can, sometimes secretly wishing that we had more money to increase our home buying happiness.
Aspects of marriage tend to mirror the home buying process. Some people have marriages that are absolutely perfect: perfect family, home, jobs, schools, pets, clothes, smiles, even teeth … just perfect all around. If only you had their life. If only you had their marriage. Then your life would be good. Then you wouldn’t have to deal with all the junk you currently endure. Yet, some people have rough situations: riotous marriage, unstable living conditions, tumultuous job, crazy kids, insane pets, and bad schools. You don’t think much about them. Instead you focus on maintaining your level and hope that one day you can rise up to the next level.
It can be dangerously easy to maintain focus on what others have and covet what you don’t. It can be a focus on someone else’s overall marriage or specific aspects. If your marriage is struggling with arguing, money, trust, intimacy, or substance abuse you may see a couple who shines in that troublesome area and think to yourself, “If only we were like them, we wouldn’t have any issues.” The flip side to that thinking is that everyone has their fair share of issues and no marriage is perfect. While it’s a great thing to have strong examples of healthy marriage and strive to be like them, it can be a freeing realization that every marriage has their own set of struggles.
At the end of the day, all that really matters is where YOU are at. It doesn’t matter who has a more or less perfect marriage. It doesn’t matter who has it all together and who is a mess. What matters is focusing on making the most of where you’re at. Spend less time focusing on what you don’t have and more time being grateful for what you do have. Your marriage is a constant work in progress, and there will always be people higher and lower than you. Some things are getting better; some things might be getting worse. But the fact is this: your marriage is entirely yours. You are the owner, and you can control how much effort you put into making it better as well as how much you let it atrophy.
As for our house, we’ll find a good one. It won’t be the biggest, it won’t be the nicest, it won’t be the newest, but it will be ours. We may have fleeting moments of wishing it were better. We may drive by nicer homes, and, only for an instant, secretly wish we could afford them. However, we’re going to strive to focus on being grateful for what we have and always work to make it better. No matter who is higher or lower than us, we will focus on making the most of our situation, being grateful for what we have, creating memories, and cherishing our life together. That is what life, and marriage, is all about.
Copyright © 2013, Foundation Restoration. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No reproduction allowed without written permission from Foundation Restoration and/or the author.