How My Parents' Perfect Marriage Almost Ruined My Chances At True Love

Photo: weheartit
perfect marriage

Dear Mom and Dad, thanks for the impossibly high standards.

I love my parents, and I love their love story almost even more. 

With four kids and full-time jobs and the other stresses of life, I'm lucky if they recognize my voice on the phone or get my name right some days. 

But there's one thing neither of them is ever hazy about: their deep and abiding love for each other.

My parents have been married for 35 years. It's so cute it's disgusting, right?

Just wait for it, I'm about to make it worse: they met because my dad was a pastor at a local church and my mom was literally a new Sunday School teacher. 

I know, I know. 

True love doesn't come without its share of hiccups, of course, so I've heard my parents fight. I've seen them be at their best and their worst and one thing has remained the same throughout their marriage: no matter what was going on they were together. It wasn't even a question. 

Watching my parents love each other formed a germ of an idea in young Becca's head and heart. 

"I want to be with a man who loves me the way my dad loves my mom."

And it has totally f*cked me over. 

RELATED: Love Is Something You Do, Not Something You Feel

Listen, I believe that my parents are deeply in love and deeply happy together. Their shared morals and religious beliefs play a huge part in that. 

I think if I had grown up to be this faithful, confident, church-going, god-fearing woman, I might have been able to have what they have. 

But that's not how things turned out.

I grew up to be a woman far more liberal than either of my parents, a woman who isn't sure what she believes when it comes to religious practice. 

Did I feel support and safe and confident enough to grow into the person I was always meant to be? Absolutely, but it's been hell on my love life. 

One of the main things that brought my parents together was their spirituality.

On a good day, I'm an agnostic, and let's be real: it's kind of hard to find a soul to soul connection with someone when the thing you both have in common is essentially an existential shrug to the nature of the universe. 

I'm sure my parents have had disagreements, but I never saw them have a rip-roaring fight. 

So when I started dating, and you know, being a normal human being who fights with their partner sometimes, I didn't know how to do it. 

Sure, I'm a WASP and yeah, some head-in-the sand avoidance of conflict comes with that, but that doesn't mean I don't know how to communicate. Ask my friends, ask my coworkers, ask the people I make art with: I know how to communicate.

But because the defining romantic relationship in my life was one where I didn't see one fight, I didn't know how to have them.

Instead, when a guy I was dating would come to me with an issue to work out, I would cut ties and run: my parents never had issues, so clearly this wasn't the right relationship for me. 

I don't even think I knew that's what I was doing. 

It took therapy and growing up to realize that having parents with a "perfect marriage" can saddle a young woman with baggage, too. 

My parents are never apart. It's romantic and sweet and very them. But if I had to be joined at the hip to my partner 24/7 I would probably chew off my own arm if it meant getting some time alone to watch Bravo (presumably after cauterizing my open wound). 

My parents, while intensely happy, don't really know who they are without the other person.

I think part of the reason I have stayed single for so long is because I don't think things should be that way: I want to be defined by myself, not but the man who I allow to pleasure me and bring me coffee in the morning. 

I think watching my parents waltz blissfully through life together would have been the perfect example for some other kind of girl, but for me it presented a standard that wasn't realistic, nor was it right for the woman I grew up into being.

My parents can't wrap their heads around my relationship to a polyamorous man. They want to support my happiness, but they hit a wall when it comes to accepting my, for want of a better word, life style. 

I wish I could make them understand that for the first time in my life I think I might be as happy as they are with each other. It isn't because I have finally re-created their own partnership, but because I have learned from the example they set of what to look for in a lasting partnership, and how specifically tailored that has to be the two (or more) people in that relationship. 

I'm never going to be a Sunday school teacher, but I am the thoughtful, good-natured person my parents raised, and while I don't have a traditional marriage like they do, I definitely have one that's pretty darn inspirational.