pretty pair

The perils of marrying too well

16 September 2011

When I married the perfect man a dozen years ago, I felt pretty smart for not messing up the biggest decision of my life. He was and is intelligent, interesting, kind and funny. What I didn’t foresee was one small drawback: he kind of makes me look bad.

I promise I am not being too hard on myself here. I have good qualities. But I have a lot of obvious defects. I can be cranky and impatient. I’m always late. I yell too much at the kids.

And many wise people agree that my husband is perfect. His mom, certainly. My mom. And they would also agree that while I have good qualities – I am generous, I cook great food, I’m really useful for tech support – being perfect is not one of them.

My friend Celeste laments wryly that people used to think she was funny before she married her amusing husband Jeff. She’s as funny as ever, but between them he nudges her out as the funny one. Jeff took away her identity as a funny person. Now she’s just a great girl married to the funny guy.

A pair of anything calls out for comparison, whether it’s two spouses, two siblings or two tomatoes. One is bigger, one smaller. Between two people, one is inevitably smarter, louder, nicer, thinner, more obnoxious, messier. The other looks less so in comparison. Even if the difference is small, two points by definition mark ends of a spectrum, and in this way they make each other look more extreme. My parents, for example, are two of the most frugal people I know. But compared to my dad, my mom is Imelda Marcos.

Sometimes I think hopefully that maybe I’m not as grumpy as I look compared to my husband. Maybe my normal ups and downs just appear moody next to his extreme sunniness. Maybe if I married a real curmudgeon, I’d be Little Miss Sunshine. And if he married a fast-food junkie, he’d look like Jacques Pepin.

But I’m happy to have it this way. When people gush, as they inevitably do, “I love your husband! He is so nice! He is so funny!” I laugh at their enthusiasm and agree. I don’t mind looking dim next to a brighter bulb. He lights up rooms. I’m…atmospheric. Most of all, I’m the smart girl that married the perfect guy.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

HapaMama 16 September 2011 at 2:19 pm

What a sweet tribute to your husband! I married a man who is naturally thin and always cheerful. Bah.


cg 25 September 2011 at 2:06 pm

hapamama – i’m glad i’m not the only one!


Alli 16 September 2011 at 3:52 pm

yoyoyo! i kind of thought your hubby married up — to one cool chick. i’m sure he would agree that you are way out of his league! besides, all sugar and sweet is boring. you need a little vinegar and salt to make things tasty.


cg 25 September 2011 at 2:07 pm

thanks, alli. =)


Ananda Leeke 16 September 2011 at 5:02 pm

Hi Lilian. I loved reading about your hubby. The photo is too sweet. You write so well. I love the story. Tell the family hi.. Blessings, Ananda


cg 25 September 2011 at 2:09 pm

thanks for reading, ananda. love my digital sister!


Venus 16 September 2011 at 9:07 pm

Lilian, BK is a summer peach but you’re a pomegranate — messy, complex, but oh so worth the work.


cg 25 September 2011 at 2:10 pm

thanks, venus. takes one to know one, right? =)


Regina 16 September 2011 at 11:04 pm

I have followed your blog for about a year, but love this “love letter” to your husband. I often feel the same way. But have have come to realize this is what makes happy marriages all over the country. Thank you for stating it so well! PS- I love sharing the romantic city of San Francisco, where I live with my family so I loved the photo you included!


cg 25 September 2011 at 2:11 pm

regina – thank you for the sweet comment! and thank you so much for reading. love my california peeps. =)


Kim 16 September 2011 at 11:04 pm

I love this one and the picture is so cute!! I never really thought he was that funny…maybe i should listen more. 🙂 your the best…he is the lucky one. xoxo


cg 25 September 2011 at 2:12 pm

thanks, kim – you made me laugh!


Mariette Johnson Wharton 17 September 2011 at 11:30 am

Ok, I’m guilty of telling you how funny and lovable your husband is but for those of you who have not spent 5 days straight with you (like I have), when you were pregnant with 3 other kids while your husband was out of town and feeling sick to your stomach (as you told me a year later!), let me just say, I never, ever heard you so much as raise your voice to your children (or anyone), show any signs of feeling the least bit ill, and was never even remotely irritable. You even worked hard to get ME on time to an appointment (you made me breakfast, gave me directions and hustled me along!), even though I had left my hubby and kids back east and had no excuse for lateness. It is true that you are generous, a fantastic cook, and a competent tech support. Your hubby may indeed steal the limelight but you, my dear, are as humanly close to perfection as one could get. This adoring post to your hubby just shows how truly humble and loving YOU are.


Marie Fischer 17 September 2011 at 12:55 pm

Hi Lillian, Great article. But always remember behind every great man is a greater woman! Love, Marie


cg 25 September 2011 at 2:16 pm

thanks, marie – make sure bill knows that too! =)


cg 25 September 2011 at 2:15 pm

mariette – you are so overboard, but i love it!!! you were a godsend to be a second mommy in the house that weekend. thanks, doll!


BK 19 September 2011 at 7:44 pm

Dear CG, I would be amazed if your husband is not deeply touched by your loving and overly generous post. He better be on his best behavior! And your readers are very kind not to be pointing out your husband’s many faults. I will follow their example and stay silent on that topic. But, rest assured, he and your 4 beautiful children are so fortunate to have YOU! Your magnificent qualities far outnumber the meager few humbly listed above and are too numerous to mention, but certainly include being a wonderful mom, wife, daughter, sister, and friend…and in my book that is as close to perfection as we can get.


cg 25 September 2011 at 2:17 pm

thanks, bk. =)


Asianmommy 21 September 2011 at 9:14 pm

I’m with you. I’m happy to be outshined by my talented husband.


cg 25 September 2011 at 2:18 pm

cheers to good guys. we are lucky!


shirley stamen jaffe 6 April 2012 at 9:40 am

Hi Lillian…”THANKS for including me in your blog…I .feel I have arrived with being “ON/IN” a blog….even if it is for “the highest calorie matzoh favorite”!!!
I love reading yours…
All the best…and Happy Easter/Passover!
shirley (justine’s mom!)


cg 7 April 2012 at 7:37 am

hi shirley – thanks for introducing me to the matzoh treat! it is SOOO good. huge hit with everyone in the family – disappears instantly. =) shappy easter/passover to you too!

btw, your comment should have gone on the matzoh post…would move it but i don’t think i can.


Karen Kim 5 February 2013 at 10:42 pm

Hi! I am new and came across your blog while looking for a recipe. I clicked on several entries but I didn’t want to stalk so I decided to write something.
I laughed out loud at your, “I’m…atmospheric!”
I love it!!!! (Your phrase, not how you feel that way.)


cg 7 February 2013 at 2:35 am

hi karen – so glad you found me! thanks so much for your comment, you made me laugh too. and please, stalk away! =)


JFK 24 February 2014 at 7:27 pm

Did Uncle Braden write this?


cg 24 February 2014 at 8:39 pm

ha, was i too nice? =)


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