Dear Tzippora,

Perhaps I put my husband on a pedestal while we were dating and engaged, but now that we are married, I am quite disappointed to discover he is not the person I thought he was. It is not just that my "perfect" husband isn't really so perfect after all. He actually has a number of small but annoying qualities that make living with him difficult. I try to conceal my real feelings from him in order not to hurt him, but I am quite disillusioned.

Post-honeymoon blues

Dear Post-honeymoon blues,

Marriage is a relationship between real people. It is a relationship between people who forget birthdays and anniversaries. It is a relationship between people who leave the toilet seat up, and the cap off the toothpaste. It is a relationship between people who forget to pick up your best suit from the cleaners, or don't take out the trash until it overflows on the kitchen floor. It is even a relationship between people who leave their socks on the floor in the corner of the room, and accept without question when they magically return to the drawer freshly washed.

Over time, all spouses come to possess an intimate understanding of each other's imperfections. The question is how to prevent the familiarity that naturally comes with time from tarnishing the esteem and love a couple feels for each other.

Nobody is perfect, and there is no perfect spouse. Anybody you'd marry would have qualities challenging for you to accept. I am sure that after more than ten years of marriage, my husband could catalogue my flaws better than anyone. Yet if you asked him, he would decline to do so, just as he would decline the same request to catalogue his own flaws. This is because after many years of marriage, the knowledge of who I am and who he is can no longer be considered a separate narrative.

A good marriage depends on cultivating this vision of a shared reality. This is one of the challenges of early marriage. Now is the time the two of you must develop a sense of yourselves as a couple, which is separate from your sense of individual identities. As you shift your focus towards developing an awareness of togetherness and connectedness, his small flaws will begin to disturb you less.

Focus on the larger picture. Familiarity does not need "to breed contempt." Rather, in a good marriage, that same familiarity can be a source of contentment and emotional security.

Consider this classic story which is told and retold about the saintly Rabbi Aryeh Levin. Rabbi Levin escorted his wife to the doctor, and explained "My wife's foot is hurting us." His simple statement articulates this essential truth of marriage, and revealed the deep connection between Rabbi Levin and his wife. Their marriage was based on a shared reality.

If you are honest with yourself, you will realize that you also have qualities which may pose challenges for your husband. Yet the beauty of marriage is that it allows two imperfect individuals to develop a relationship that allows them to move past their individual limitations. Within the context of marriage, you are both capable of achieving a higher level of growth and self-transformation than you are capable of achieving independently.

Thanks for writing,

Tzippora Price, M.Sc.