Does reading glowing reports of other couples' breathtakingly close, wildly thrilling, deeply engaged and loving relationships, especially those that have lasted well into their 4th decade (or in some cases, month) make you feel inadequate? Do you wistfully read their posts and wish that you were as lucky as they? Do you imagine that their lives are perfect, their relationship is perfect, their children are perfect, and that they live in a perfect house with a perfectly maintained garden where a perfectly groomed and sweet-smelling dog has his beautifully-crafted hardwood kennel?
Do you wonder what it is that these poster couples have or do that you and your “other half” don't? Do you find yourself comparing your lover or yourself with those written about on this and other sites—and not liking what you see? Do you want your spouse to be more like the poster partner of your dreams, more attentive, less needy, stronger, more exciting, less absentminded, more cherishing, less disrespectful, more interested in a Taken In Hand relationship, less inconsistent, more self-controlled, [add complaints to taste, here].
Do you find yourself ending relationships when they have barely begun, because the other person shows signs of not being perfect? These other folk have the perfect partner, so why should you have to make do with anyone less than your ideal? Do you wonder why the only ones who want to see you again are the unworthy, the unpleasant, and the downright criminally insane?
The poster couples may have all that you want in life—or they may not. You only see what they present to the world. You don't see beyond the perfection to the fallible and faulty human beings they really are. You don't know what goes on in their lives—not really. That woman who writes such glowing posts about her husband does not dwell on (or mention) the faults he has that you would never be able to stand. That man who writes about his beloved wife, loves her despite the fact that she has more faults than he ever thought he'd be able to live with before he met her.
It is not that they are lying—far from it! They are simply focusing on the positive, the desirable, the good parts of their loved one, and allowing the less desirable aspects of the person to fade into the back of their mind. They have weighed up the pros and cons, the wonderful bits and the irritating (or worse) bits, and, finding that their loved one is, as Pat Allen says, 51% or better, they have wholeheartedly committed themselves to their loved one and their relationship.
We are all fallible human beings full of faults and problems and annoying habits. If you wait for perfection, you will die before you ever find that perfect person. If you focus on what your spouse lacks, or on what he or she should be or do that he or she isn't or won't do, you will keep those things uppermost in your mind. And when you keep those things uppermost in your mind, you will feel bad, frustrated, annoyed, critical, dissatisfied, sad, pessimistic, and angry.
When you feel those things, how will it feel to be your spouse? Will your damning judgements, irritation, dissatisfaction, anger and pessimism about your relationship feel good, loving, kind, accepting, and friendly? Or will it feel painful, upsetting, depressing, and unloving?
As Tevemer's lovely article shows, even in the best relationships, with the most good feeling and warmth, and the best problem-solving institutions, there can be misunderstandings in which each think that the other is being distant or unfriendly. If this can happen even when there really isn't a problem, imagine how it must feel to the other person when you really are exuding negativity towards him or her.
So what these poster couples are doing is accentuating the positive, and not expecting more than any human being could possibly deliver. It is not enough to say that you think we are all fallible: you have to act on it. That means, amongst other things, assuming that you and your loved ones will make mistakes, do the wrong thing, and have misunderstandings. Expect mistakes! And don't define yourself, your loved one and your relationship by them. To feel more positive, focus on the positive.
Are you are a single person who has realised that your expectations have been way too high, or that you have been rejecting potential amours who are better than 51%? Do you read articles like LifeOfCuriosity's Given a choice between two men ... and wonder how to tell whether you are expecting too much, or putting up with more than you should? (It is not always easy to tell!)
If you are now berating yourself for having expected too much, either from a long-term spouse, or from potential amours, reading the next paragraph may make you feel much better about yourself!
I am ashamed to admit this, but I once stopped seeing a man who was extremely intelligent, fascinating, had the same ideas and values as I, was marvellously kind, considerate and protective, and whom I found very attractive (extremely rare!) after only four dates because on the third and fourth date he wore enough aftershave to wake the dead, and he talked with his mouth full. How completely stupid of me! Whatever possessed me to allow such completely trivial things to put me off him? Talk about not giving him a chance!
I won't make that mistake again. But I will make other mistakes. We all do. All the time. That is the human condition. And we have to live now, we all our imperfections, striving for improvement but always fallible. But when you truly take into account that we are all fallible and prone to error, that makes it possible not to get upset or angry about every mistake that loved ones make. It makes acceptance possible. Poster couples are not necessarily more lucky than the rest of us. They have kind hearts and a good eye. They see the best in people rather than the worst. They accept one another as human beings and don't expect perfection. There are no perfect persons, there is only us.