The New Perfect.

Once in awhile, bliss becomes misery all on its own. Surely it happens slowly over time, but the realization hits you in the face with a wicked hand and no warning at all. Such it is that a decision comes about.

winter cabine in the woods

Over the years my husband and I have created the perfect home. There’s the right number of rooms… and closets, the perfect location, and just the right amount of yard. We have enjoyed life in our little corner of the world. In what has been the perfect place, however, things crept to the surface that could not be changed.

For example, there are only four spots for lunch and even fewer for dinner – none of which are ever fully prepared for my fur-covered stilettos. A 15-minute drive is required to reach a good spot for a morning run, and every bicycle ride includes a more-than-healthy dose of altitude.

While I love the quaint local shops, finding the best running shoe or a new dress almost always takes us on a 45-minute excursion to the nearest city. Suddenly, mountains of issues could not be overcome and it was declared we would move.

The house was put in order – closets cleaned, doors re-painted and the yard spruced up. I packed boxes with anything considered non-essential, replaced our photos with benign artwork and de-personalized everything. We put our perfect home on the market and the search began for the new perfect.

cityscapeAfter a good bit of research I found the perfect city, which includes 90-miles of city-wide trails: garden trails, trails within parks, natural trails along the city’s lakes, paved greenways, and no altitude. Perfect. At the end of a long day, there are over 700 restaurants to choose from – one of every variety imaginable. This was my perfect city.

Meanwhile, my husband was performing his own search of perfect. Since we know men are from Mars, it will not surprise you to learn his perfect city was not on the same planet as mine. His perfect city would be in Colombia, maybe Portugal.

My husband’s perfect is measured by what it does to our budget. This budget lives on a spreadsheet with 40 rows and 12 columns (each row representing a year of our lives), and a formula in every cell: “The Retirement Calculator.” There is a calculation for every new car, every inclining and declining expense throughout the remainder of our lives, which too have been carefully researched and estimated within a cell of our life’s budget. That spreadsheet scares the living bejesus out of me.

Needless to say there were weeks of days discussing perfect. It was brutal.

My argument was eventually influential enough to provoke him to enter my ‘perfect’ into the budget, if for no other reason than to prove its unworthiness. Shockingly, my perfect did not cause The Retirement Calculator to implode, and my husband was gracious enough to re-consider my vision of perfect. Actually, he embraced this new perfect and we began our search for a new home.

It was slow going. I subscribed to every real estate app ever created, and spent hours with what became known as “The Morning Report.”

We made the 3-hour drive to look at house, after house, after house, and submitted our best offer on an adorable stone cottage that had been condemned. The local contractors had a bigger spreadsheet than ours, and we lost. Next, a fair offer was extended to Fannie Mae on a Cape Cod with a great yard for the dogs, but Fannie does not play nice and she countered at full list price.

Finally, an email arrived with a single picture and a note from the agent that said, “I think this is the one.” It was the one.

My husband and I walked through this less-than-perfect home that needs a great deal of work before it will be perfect, and decided we could see its potential. The structure is good and it has great character. If you have these things the rest becomes cosmetic, fine-tuning.

imageThis process has not revealed anything new about how differently my husband and I spell perfect, but it has taught me a great deal about our marriage.

A good partnership may begin with good structure and a healthy dose of character, but it will also require a good bit of work before it is perfect. Over time things may creep in that make the partnership not-so-perfect again. After all, people change. What was important 10 years ago may not be important now. It takes communication, adaptation, re-calibration, and a little give and take to find a new perfect that is perfect to both parties.

As far as my husband’s opinion? He says I’m going through middle-aged crazy, and he’s just glad to be along for the ride….. as long as The Retirement Calculator does not implode. Happy trails ahead, indeed.

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