I Did Not Marry A Perfect Man, And I'm Happy About It

Aimée Gramblin

Do you know what I find attractive in a man? A kind smile, a caring heart.

Someone who is generous with his time. Someone who listens to me. A man who encourages me to pursue my dreams and step out of the way when needed. A man who is happy to be my support.

A man who knows how to host well. A man who knows how to cook. A man who doesn’t tolerate mean words and injustices.

A man who will sit with me for hours and talk. Poetry, astrology, whatever I throw into the mix. A man who has his own ideas and interests to throw in the conversation.

Did I fall in love with my now-husband, David, at first sight? Maybe. dolMaybe not.

Is our eighteenth year of marriage perfect? Far from it.

Has either of us ever threatened to leave the relationship? Yes.

Marriage: The Early Years

Our early days were filled with passion, romance, infatuation, heat. We slept side by side the first night we met, electric pulses coursing through our bodies at the lightest touch. We didn’t kiss or hug or have sex. We just slept next to one another and let our bodies speak.

We’d met at a party in Stillwater. I drove home to Norman with David’s phone number scrawled on a Far Side calendar of the day sheet. My roommate convinced me to call him before a week was up. It was 2001. I’d heard all the rules of dating. Don’t be too eager. Do this, don’t do that. Blah, blah, blah.

Six months later we were living together in Norman. A year and a half later, we got married at the courthouse — just us — in Oklahoma City. We were young, in love, and completely and totally imperfect.

When I couldn’t find the words to express my anger, I once battered my small fists into his chest and wondered if I was as bad as all the domestic violence abusers I knew of. I went to a place to confess, to seek help. They said, usually women don’t start these things. He must have set you on edge. It helped relieve my guilt but didn’t help with my lack of impulse control or anger management. I had some heavy baggage stored in my bones and blood — stuff that I tried to submerge and block, but it only ended up coming out in words of fury, tumbling into accusations and unrelated grievances. I fought dirty.

I’ve thrown chimes at David’s head, hurled a full milk jug at his feet. Why? I don’t remember. And, I don’t condone this type of violence. I could’ve used anger management. We both could have. He’s put fists through walls, though not in years. And, as he’s a man, his voice booms when he’s angry.

We’ve both doled out the kinds of insults you regret and don’t easily forget, yet what we’ve said has faded in memory.

We got married when I was 24 and he was 25. We’d met at 22 and 24. His dad had died several months before. He was lost in grief I didn’t understand. I still haven’t experienced loss this large and I’m 42. His dad was 48 when he died.

Marriage: From Courtship to Strengthening Bonds of Love

We were still growing up. We both drank a lot, smoked weed, had tons of great sex, ate good food, and loved each other fiercely.

I left a sultry message recording on his voicemail while he was at work at Lowe’s in the milling department, a reciting of ee cummings:

I Like My Body When It Is With Your
i like my body when it is with your
body. It is so quite new a thing.
Muscles better and nerves more.
i like your body. i like what it does,
i like its hows. i like to feel the spine
of your body and its bones,and the trembling
-firm-smooth ness and which i will
again and again and again
kiss, i like kissing this and that of you,
i like, slowly stroking the,shocking fuzz
of your electric furr,and what-is-it comes
over parting flesh….And eyes big love-crumbs,
and possibly i like the thrill
of under me you so quite new

He sent original art, mixed CDs, portraits of me, and poetry written down from his favorite poets. I wrote love letters and poems, let my pen say the three words first, “I love you…,” at a distance, safe from not hearing them back if he didn’t feel the same way. He called and teased that I hadn’t said them aloud and then he said them right back, with no hesitation.

Have you ever felt like you’ve known someone forever? That’s how I feel about David. The first time I was in his mom’s home, I felt like I’d been there before — the feeling was enough to grip me as I clung to his mom’s pink, shell-shaped sink and looked at my face in the mirror. I’d tell myself it was just deja-vu. I’m sure it was.

We have been a thorn in one another’s side. We have been one another’s unwavering support. We have mellowed over the years. No more flung chimes, hurled milk jugs, or caved-in walls. Sometimes we feel like roommates, parents, lovers caught in the limbo of time marching on.

Marriage: It's a Marathon

It’s a steadfast marathon towards the letting go that is death, that is growing old together.

We grow saggy together, fat together, slimmer together, silvery-white hair together.

I don’t want a perfect man. I’m not a perfect woman. Perfect is an illusion. I want a partner who loves me no matter my age, who loves my spirit, my visions. A partner who supports my goals even when he doesn’t understand them. I want a man with whom to embrace challenges. I want to be in partnership to grow and evolve.

I’m happy I didn’t marry a perfect man. And, I’m happy David didn’t marry a perfect woman.

Originally published in PS I Love You December 2020.

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