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My family isn't perfect, and I'm perfectly fine with that
Jason Wright and family give up on a family photo during the summer of 2015. - photo by Jason Wright
A few weeks ago, I was blessed to spend the afternoon with an elderly couple that's been married for more years than I've been alive. Their rich love and sweet respect for each other is palpable. It fills their home like the smell of fresh chocolate chip cookies that never cool.

I savored the delicious time with my new friends.

In reverential tones, as if whispering from the front pew of church, they revealed that over their more than half a century together, theyve never had a significant argument. Their children cannot remember a single instance of Mother raising her voice or Dad losing his head.

Its not that they agree on every word in the fine print of life; they simply compromise quickly and communicate extraordinarily well. If the word unified had its own poster, this couple would be on it holding each others wrinkled, tired hands and looking toward heaven.

As the time ticked by, something changed. My mood and mind began to wander from their seasoned voices to the ones inside my head. When I said goodbye and they tearfully thanked me for the visit, I wanted to get home as quickly as possible and log on to Craigslist.

It was time to give away my Worlds Best Dad and Husband mug.

I drove off, reflecting on other married couples Ive known whod get along swimmingly with elderly pals: former co-workers, church leaders and neighbors.

Easy now, dont compare yourself, I thought.

And then I did anyway.

I remembered this ancient happy marriage tip: Never go to bed angry, frustrated or upset. This bit of advice is as old as Adam and Eve, but that doesnt make it any easier. My wife and I try our best, but we havent been perfect.

I can picture the day a childhood friend recoiled when he heard me counting up 1-2-3 because one of my daughters was taking too much time choosing the right. She was not impressed, and neither was my kid.

As if it were yesterday, I remember a houseguest appearing around a corner to catch me snapping at one of my sons for making a mess that would require a backhoe to clean up. The friend looked at me like Id shot a unicorn and mounted its head above my fireplace.

I considered all the dear friends weve known at church whose children look like they were clipped out of a religious fashion magazine. The girls have matching dresses, the boys have perfect ties with pressed socks, and none of them would ever lean over during the service and ask, How much longer?

Meanwhile, my wife and I have spent years praying all my kids have shoes on. And pants.

What are we doing wrong?

Sometimes my wife and I disagree. Even though our love is a little bit stronger every day and we now operate on the same frequency more often than we did five, 10 or 20 years ago, we still have moments when we look across the room at one another and wonder what planet the other one calls home.

And the kids? They're not exactly filling out any nomination forms for parents of the year. Sometimes were not as patient as we should be, sometimes we say things we regret, and sometimes we go to bed wondering if were raising them right or just raising them.

More than once, Ive turned to my wife at night and said, We should be more careful. Their warranty is expired.

When other parents are quietly reasoning with their kids at Walmart on why they cant have five packages of marshmallow Peeps, Im buying seven with plans to eat six and put one in the microwave.

When other parents are gently disciplining their children for throwing a tantrum at Target, I might be threatening to make them walk home in the rain while carrying the groceries.

Did I mention were not perfect?

By the time Id pulled back into my own driveway after my visit, I realized just how much I appreciate all theyve accomplished. I dont begrudge their remarkable success; I admire it.

And those fashion-mag families from church? I respect them, too. They shouldnt be judged any more than I should. Theyre doing so much so well, and they likely have backstage struggles I dont see on Sundays.

Perhaps what I really discovered is that I dont have all the answers or, according to my kids, any of them. I just know were doing the best we can.

I hope they know that, too.

So while my wife and I might not have the same ride as our friends, hopefully well still arrive at the same destination.

And well still be holding hands.

I dont know, maybe Ill keep the mug anyway. Just in case.
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