Sunday, March 28, 2010

Mr. Good Enough -- That's me!

I used to be a perfectionist. On a related note, I used to be disillusioned and somewhat depressed. I was idealist. I grew up in the 60's and 70's. But over time, I came to my senses, and I grew up some more.

In various degrees, in various settings, I've learned that "Good enough often is... good enough."

I dated and broke up with some very nice girls. But they weren't "perfect" for me. I'd like to say I wasn't as bad as the characters on Seinfeld, but the end result was the same. I was always finding some reason why they weren't quite "perfect."

Sometimes the girl broke my heart, sometimes, I broke hers. (It was probably more of a bruising than a breaking... it was all "young love." We were learning to love.)

Somewhere along the way, at about 20, I realized that I was looking for too much in a girl. Girls aren't God. They can't be expected to fill the deep emptiness of my soul: that's God's job.

I'm guessing that many women who are looking for Mr. Right suffer from a similar misconception: men aren't the end-all, be-all of existence. That's asking too much. (Not to say some guys aren't doing the same thing.)

I was recently reminded of all this when I came across an interview with the author of a new book called, "Marry Him, the case for settling for Mr. Good-enough." I read the interview, then I read the article in The Atlantic that preceded the book.

At about 20, I changed from looking for Mrs. Perfect, to "I think I need a wife." Within six months of that change of perspective, I'd met the girl. (Actually, I already knew her, I just hadn't recognized her as the one who would willingly commit to walking with me through the journey of life.) We married a year and a half later.

She had been engaged twice before, but had gotten "cold feet." This time, she looked at things differently, and made a commitment summed up in two words: "I do."

Eighteen years and three children later, she passed away after a six year bout with cancer. Did she settle for Mr. Good Enough? Some might say so.

But the night before she died, she said, "I'm so happy." (She also had just told me how much she loved me. We had grown to love each other deeply... over the course of time and life.)

We had "settled" on each other, and it was good.

In work, I was also perfectionist.

My mom used to say, "Good, better, best; never let it rest, until good is better, and better is best."

Then I met Rick Simmons, my computer programming boss. He told me, "Don, not everything needs to be a Cadillac. Sometimes a Chevrolet is good enough." I didn't like it at first, but he was right, and I was liberated: again. Perfection is a cruel task master.

These days, I aim to be "above average" or sometimes just "thoroughly adequate."

Perfection is over-rated and generally unattainable. If you're looking for Perfection, then find God. (That will release the rest of us from an unfair burden.)

A year after being widowed, I met a widow from New York. I was from California. We met via AOL. She was looking for some help in coping with the loss of her husband.

It all started very platonic... but over time... I came to realize that Leslie loved me, and that I loved Leslie. I hadn't even seen her picture yet; hadn't met her face-to-face; hadn't even gone on a date.

We were both in our 40's. We had both enjoyed good marriages. We knew what mattered and what didn't. We both knew Perfection was found in Another (God). We knew that Another could help us find "another," who was "good enough." We settled? (Actually, I proposed marriage, and she accepted!)

In December, Leslie and I will celebrate our 12th anniversary. We're happily married. You might call us, Mr. and Mrs. Good Enough.

* * * * *

My Cousin Buffie wrote us a wedding poem called,

"A Wedding Prayer for Don and Leslie."

As you start your life together
Through the grace of God, a second chance
For the Love and for the Laughter
And for the knowing glance.

May your Love shine bright forever.
Your two souls entwined in dance.
And your happiness be boundless
Through the grace of God, a second chance.

* * * *

I settled on a choice, Leslie. And Leslie settled on a choice, Don.
Mr. and Mrs. Good Enough -- living a life of "good enough" together.
Trying to be "above average" and "thoroughly adequate."
So far, so good -- because often -- Good enough is!


  1. Good enough is just GREAT :) Wonderful post Don!

  2. @september: I agree -- "Good enough is just GREAT!"

  3. Time and perspective change a lot of things.

    There was a commercial once that asked, "Is good enough ever really good enough?" Their answer was no. Yours was yes. Perspective.... (well, this one's easy: consumerism vs. wisdom)

  4. Don,
    I think you are lying. I have been just a little aquainted with Patty and Leslie, but you are grossly underestimating them if you seriously think that you just "settle for good enough".
    Your cousin, friend, and brother,

  5. Don, congratulations on another Write With Pictures win! I enjoyed your fun take on the cat photo prompt. Well done!

  6. @Saphron: Consumerism vs. wisdom. I think that about says it. One is unrealistic and never satisfied; the other is rooted in reality and breeds contentment.

    @Dennis: Here's a question for you: What if, Don's not lying? Would it make you rethink relationships and marriage? (Did you follow the links? Read the articles? -- I did.)

  7. @september: Thanks. I've became reacquainted with cats a bit over 10 years ago. My wife, the cat lover, reintroduces me. Taco and Chip have taught me to appreciate cats and to be able to write about them. ;-) Here's the cat poem and picture link:

  8. If I have to explain a joke, I guess it wasn't funny. I wasn't really saying that you were lying about a change of attitude, or that you had found a better way of thinking. And I wasn't philosophizing about the inescababilty of human imperfection and the healthiness of seeing past that.
    I just was reacting to what I saw as kind of funny, about you seeming to say that Patty and Leslie were "good enough". Maybe I need to clear up that point. Sorry.

  9. @Dennis: Ah, you were joking? Who knew?

    There was a tongue-in-cheek joke about Patty, Leslie, and Me being "good-enough." I have other posts identifying them as superlative and God's best for me. This post shows the flip-side... you saw it, and it is funny... and true.

    I just didn't see that you saw it in your response. Thanks for explaining.

  10. I have added your blog to my weekly visitation list. Each time I log on its almost clock work, we have one of what I like to call our " thirty minute emergencies". Nearly every thirty minutes someone is having a crisis. All three of the males I live with range age from 8 months to 30 years old. and like clock work every 30 minutes one of them has a crisis... and my ears are blessed with the ear piercing screech of " Moooom!".

    As I read this post I felt myself completely identifying with this obsessive perfectionism you speak of. Granted our life experiences are not very compatible, I felt myself dealing with this perfectionism in every aspect of my life. It wasn't until about 8 months ago my husband told me.." Good better best, time to let it rest." ... Numerous arguments and fights never caused me to think twice about my 'obsession'.. until he said that.

    So, thanks Don for your posting!! I always love to listen and learn from others. However in this instance I was able to read...think and reflect! A gift that is not often given.

  11. @My_Place: I'm so glad you've added me to your list, and I'm glad your willing to share your response to what you read here. Life experiences can be quite different and still there can be a connection and mutual learning. Ain't life great? Continue to visit and poke around my old posts. Perhaps you'll find other morsels worth pondering. ;-)