My middle daughter got married this weekend. It was absolutely wonderful... we love and respect the man she married. We love the family that she married into. Even the wedding photographer remarked this wedding had the best "vibe" he had ever been to.
As the father of the bride I, of course, was required to give a short wedding speech. When I was finished what happened was remarkable. Over 30 of the wedding guests thanked me personally for the small bit of advice I offered. This came from old people and young people. Married, single and divorced.
What I said was pretty simple. After warning the guests that I give speeches for a living and telling some mildly embarrassing anecdotes about my daughter and her new husband I said this...
End-of-life research on what creates extremely high levels of life satisfaction reveals that a happy, healthy marriage, or a long-term committed relationship, including friendships, offers the single greatest source of personal fulfillment, satisfaction, and joy. I mentioned that the research indicated that the best kind of relationship is described as trusting and unguarded.
It's best to have this kind of relationship with a mammal. If you can't have this with a human, get a dog because they have very low standards and requirements for unconditional love.
But the big point I made is simply this
. Nobody is perfect... at least not by our personal standard of perfection. The most we get in life in anything that we seek is 80% of what we believe we want. If we are getting 100%, it won't last. But 80% is a lot. It's all we need to be happy and loving.
When we fall in love all that we see is the 80% that we are crazy about. We ignore the other 20% of annoying habits. We create the illusion that we have found the perfect person. This wonderful illusion drives us to constantly ask ourselves what can I do to make this person happy. We become facets of kindness, patience, and thoughtfulness. We literally create an ecology of love.
But over time, when the love-fog caused by dopamine and serotonin lifts due to the realities and challenges of life, it is common to start focusing on the 20% of the perceived flaws, faults, and imperfections of our beloved. It isn't that they have changed. Rather it is how we view them that has changed. Instead of a faucet, we become a drain. The whirlpool effect is caused by either silent or vocal judgments, impatience, and criticism. And what was once sacred can become profane. Instead of asking “What can I do to make the person I love happy?” we focus on what they can do to make us happy.
Love is a verb
. It is what we do that creates love. The feeling of love is the outcome of a choice to be irrationally positive about the people you deeply love. Nobody wants to be viewed realistically. We all want to be valued. We all need people in our lives who see our highest and best self. And we need to see the highest and best of others. Committing to love someone's 80% of their best self, and choosing to ignore the 20% of their unfinished self, is a sacred choice.
One last thing. Finding someone who is 80% perfect for you as a friend or partner is neither easy nor simple. There're many people who aren't even 20% perfect for you.
So choose carefully. But as John Legend sings someone's imperfections are likely to be perfect just for you.
Be the love you seek.
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