Pursuing Holiness Rather Than Perfection in Your Marriage

When you hear someone say that someone else is “the perfect couple” or use the hashtag #couplegoals, how often is it a comment on how a relationship looks on the outside? Marriage is a beautiful sacrament, but if you are seeking the look of perfection on the outside and not seeking to grow in holiness with your spouse, you are setting yourself up for disappointment.

Recently on Trending with Timmerie, Timmerie discussed the danger of pursuing so-called perfection in marriage rather than holiness.  She acknowledged, “Perfectionism often influences so many of us. Perfectionism, unfortunately though, isn’t about having a good relationship. It’s about being perfect on the exterior. Whether it’s about what others perceive about our relationships, or sometimes perfectionism is about what we want our spouse to see.”

So how should we approach this problem of perfectionism, as Catholics? Timmerie suggested that rather than emphasizing perfectionism in your career, parenting, and marriage, that we should instead talk about holiness.

“You see, marriage is a path to holiness,” she said. “It’s one of the vocations that we are given to journey toward God, and in this case together with another person. And I think it’s pretty neat, because the Church gives us some incredible guidelines on how we can live out holy marriages. And it’s a pretty tall order, that we need these constant reminders of.”

Timmerie acknowledged, “I think so many of us want to go deeper in our faith journey with our spouses, for our family. But we don’t really know what to do. We say, ‘I just want this relationship to be perfect,’ but we sometimes miss out on how to get there.”

One way to learn how to grow in holiness within your marriage is to meditate on what Scripture tells us about how husbands and wives should love each other.

“I want to encourage couples, pray with Ephesians chapter 5,” Timmerie suggested. “St. Paul wrote about the various vocations of husband and wife, and there is a lot of wisdom that can be unpacked. I challenge couples, married or even as you’re preparing for marriage, to read separately Ephesians 5:1-33. And then spend time after that reading these words together, these words of wisdom on marriage, and then discuss them.”

In meditating on Scripture, Timmerie suggested that spouses ask themselves, “What do I need to do, to change, to work toward Christian holiness in marriage? Not perfection, holiness.”

One common obstacle to growing in holiness within marriage is that many families simply don’t have time to spend together, because they have so many demands on their time and attention.

Timmerie pointed to Bishop Thomas Olmsted’s apostolic exhortation, Complete My Joyin which he writes that many families are involved in so many activities (even good ones!) that sap energy and time, leaving families feeling drained and disconnected.

She asked, “How do we overcome this drained disconnection that families are experiencing, because of that energizer bunny type of attitude? Where we just go, and continuously run, and try to be perfect and please everyone?”

To combat this common obstacle, Timmerie advised families to reflect on these simple questions, and respond in a way that puts holiness in the family above the appearance of perfection.

“My question to you, no matter what state of life you’re in is: How do you overcome perfectionism? What do you need to take out of your life so that holiness can come first?”

Listen to the full conversation below:

Trending with Timmerie airs weekdays at 6:00 p.m. Central on Relevant Radio® and the Relevant Radio App.

Stephanie Foley serves as a Digital Media Producer at Relevant Radio®. She is a graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville, where she studied journalism, and she has worked in Catholic radio for 12 years. Stephanie is a wife, a mother of three boys, and in her free time she enjoys reading, running, and really good coffee. You can find more of Stephanie’s writing at relevantradio.com and on the free Relevant Radio mobile app.