by Deacon Derrick and Mistianna Barnes
Mistianna: When Derrick and I started dating, got engaged and finally, got married, I thought Derrick was my knight in shining armor. He daily total me how “perfect” he was and I naively believed him. I believed him simply because, he was perfect, for me and to me! He treated me like a queen, spoiling me all the time and always going out of his way to make me feel extra special. Derrick was everything I’d ever dreamed of and prayed for in a partner and in a husband, my ultimate Prince Charming. As far as I was concerned, he was flawless, free of imperfections, and free from ever doing anything wrong, disgusting or hurtful.
Derrick: I too was living a fairy tale, I had found my Princess. She was everything that I wanted in a wife. I felt at my best when I was with her. She was always very well put together, and dressed with a great degree of elegance; she was perfectly pressed and her presence was the same, prim and proper only began to explain her personality. She was, and remains, my idea of perfection.
There is a saying that “Love is Blind” and in your engagement this is never more true.
Mistianna: The only problem with my image of Derrick as my “perfect” partner and “perfect” husband was that contrary to mine and to Derrick’s belief, my Prince Charming had flaws. Since, I was head over heels in love with him, I never noticed these flaws when we were dating or while we were engaged; but, boy, did these flaws take on a life of there own when we got married and started living together.
Derrick: I am sure that we can each reflect on some quirks that our spouse has that we dismiss as annoying and not really a “Big Deal”. Unfortunately, these quirks become the building blocks of arguments that will develop later in your marriage. We discovered that these arguments, over each other’s quirky behaviors, often created triggers that deeply upset each other and therefore, had the capability to develop into the big arguments in our relationship that plagued our marriage again and again.
Mistianna: One of my “perfect” husband’s flaws was that his underwear never seemed to make its way to the laundry hamper in our bedroom; and, it still hasn’t found that laundry hamper in all our almost 23 years of marriage. Not only has that driven me crazy for the entirety for my marriage, but it continues to strike me as absolutely odd, especially, since, Derrick was and still is a neat freak. As a neat freak he did annoying things like alphabetizing and finger spacing the cans in our pantry, and finger spacing the hangers and shoes on his side of the closet, I remember thinking, “who does stuff like this?”
Derrick: There is a song, sung by the country music singer, Brad Paisley titled “Waiting on a Woman”, well, I truly believe that song was written about my wife. Do you remember me telling you how the love of my life was always so well pressed and so put together? I never knew that I would have to wait two long hours for her to achieve that stage of readiness. As our life continued together I started referring to Mistianna as LG! That was short for LETS GO! We were always late everywhere we went because Mistianna wanted to look her best. It is in these annoying quirks, like taking forever to get ready to go somewhere, that we find fights in our marriage that are just waiting to happen. Furthermore, you begin to realize that your spouse is who they are and they will probably remain that way. So, you have to decide early in your marriage, if you are going to fight over these annoying quirks that drive you each crazy, or if you are going to celebrate and recognize the unique person you’ve chosen as your lifetime mate.
Mistianna: So, the next time your spouse leaves their underwear on the floor, takes too long to get ready to go out on a date, decides to alphabetize the pantry so you can’t find a darn thing, or causes you to be fifteen minutes late for Family Christmas or the Office New Year’s Eve Party …. take care of the chore for them silently, or celebrate their uniqueness which makes them that special person you first feel in love with; and, then when you see them next, greet them with a passionate kiss or a hug. You see, in marriage, we can’t sweat the small stuff. We must find a way in the messiness of our lives to extend grace to our partner and to respond in love to each other when in reality, we really don’t want to
Derrick: If you are committed to a lifetime together through the Sacrament of Marriage then as a couple you must learn to forgive your spouses flaws and to focus on and celebrate their strengths. What we choose to focus on in our spouse literally paints how we picture them and ultimately even how we end up treating them on a daily basis. Try and remember what made you fall in love with your spouse in the first place? The old saying that positivity begets positivity is absolutely true in this situation. If you choose to focus on your husband’s or wife’s positive traits, the many things that they happen to do great; you will begin to treat them as a blessing or as a precious gift in your life. Once that happens there flaws, which once were a huge eye sore in your marriage, will still be annoying, but they will become much more tolerable. When this happens then you will both come to the realization that as a couple you are messy, you are each imperfect, and you are each flawed. But, above all else, as a couple you are a beautiful team joined together by God’s love and together you can withstand any storm; because you are stronger together than you are apart.
May you each continue to have a Happy and Holy Marriage!
Deacon Derrick Barnes and his wife Mistianna serve the parish of St. Margaret Mary in the Archdiocese of Louisville as well as the Louisville Engaged Encounter program.