They say that marriage is ultimately a worldly expression of relationship with Christ (Paul says so, I mean). This is why the man is to love his wife as Christ loved the church, even to the point of death; and the wife is to love her husband as she loves Christ. Naturally, being only human and subject to all the weakness that is in the flesh, we tend to fail fairly miserably at fulfilling this command. But I guess what we are supposed to do is just try again and again.
It seems apparent that it is impossible for one human being to live up to all of another human beings expectations. The strengths that I do have are strengths that many other people do not have. By the same token, I am found lacking in some things that other people do not lack. Ultimately though, if we are all judged on the basis of those things that are weakest, we must all fail. During periods in a marriage where contention has arisen, it may appear to one partner or the other than someone on the outside is especially wise, attractive, attentive, understanding, and so on. This is the luxury of the free agent, so to speak. He may offer all his best upon the isolated moment, while not having to oppress with the weaknesses that would be present and obvious in the long haul. It is easy to be occasional, far away from the daily drudge, the finances, the frustrations & etc. The details. The hard parts. It is much more difficult to be permanent.
Now, if there is one thing I know about women it is that they are eternally dissatisfied, and no mere man of flesh and blood can hope to change that. On the other hand, men are eternally needy emotionally and in terms of self-esteem, and this is why they so often try to cure their frustration by falling into the sweet talk of another woman. It is a vicious circle, and something we can all benefit from by recognizing and remembering. The fact is, the grass is not greener on the other side, but just all part of the same yard.
My philosophy (and perhaps a mistaken one) has always been to make the most of what is good in a person, while tolerating the weaker things--this with the thought that people suffer as much from their own faults as anyone else does. I begin to wonder, however, whether my refusal to make an issue of the less attractive facets in a person's makeup is really only an unwillingness to enter into conflict. Do I love the best and endure the worst, making it sound like a character strength--or do I simply seek to hide from trouble under the guise of a worthy sounding philosophy?
Ever since God took Eve from Adam's side, the man (who had been doing fine before) has depended upon the woman (nice going, God). In a sense she is like his mirror, that reflection by which he evaluates himself and either values or despairs at what he sees. He will see, according to the light and shade she chooses to provide, all manner of creatures, from the strong and the heroic to the base and worthless. If the woman reflects something of Christ, the man will see something of Christ in himself. If she reflects little of Christ, he will not see Christ.
If is evident, of course, that until the man (and the woman too, for that matter) sees, evaluates, and works by the light of Christ penultimate, he must suffer through an ever unreliable world made of circumstance and mood, as unpredictable and as impermanent as the clouds.