Over the weekend I dropped of a stereo system—turn-table, tuner-receiver, and speakers—at Deseret Industries for a friend. As we unloaded it from the back of the truck one employee said to the other, “Wow, check out the ‘hi-fi’!”
It had been years since I had heard the term “hi-fi”—short for “high-fidelity”, referring to high-quality reproduction of sound and the equipment that provides it. As a teen that was the ideal, to own equipment that played music so true to the artist’s performance that it sounded as if you were right there in the room with them. My uncle had such a sound system. His high-priced quadrophonic system was capable of producing extremely high-fidelity sound on four channels, rather than two channels of a standard stereo system.
Standing in the middle of the living room it sounded to me as if I was surrounded by the musicians. One could hear all of the small imperfections and incidental sounds not heard on other sound systems. One could hear the sound of the guitarist’s fingers moving on the strings, the saxophone player inhaling to blow his horn, and other sounds that one could not perceive on a less expensive system.
Today, of course, these little sounds would be digitally “scrubbed”, artificially removed from the recording before being reproduced. The result is a more pristine recording with only the intended sounds coming through. In fact, one can digitally change an instrument or voice to sound better—in-tune and on-pitch when the artist was not able.
Those vinyl albums and singles had so many little imperfections, and the systems so sensitive that a single speck of dust made an audible click. Most young listeners would find it unbearable to listen to music on those old systems.
Almost all music now comes in digital forms, whether compact discs or via download. It is also compressed to take up less storage space, hence the wonder of being able to store an entire music collection on a cell phone. It requires no real effort to enjoy the music.
With all these conveniences it would seem ridiculous that may audiophiles—those goofy people who really like high-fidelity music—are rediscovering vinyl recordings. They dig through old collections and pay a premium for new records that hold onto the imperfections that others try so hard to get rid of.
Many audiophiles explain that the music sounds more real or pure with its little imperfections. They feel more connected with the artists and their experiences producing the sound. And perhaps the effort and inconvenience of listening to music as we did a generation or two ago is worth the greater sense of connection.
It occurs to me that fidelity in marriage has many parallels to fidelity to music.
Real marriage to a real person is messy. Some of their behaviors—and our own—are not really what we intended and come off as unattractive. We are often not primed to accommodate others with their quirks and imperfections.
Many are tempted to seek out digitally enhanced partners—visual or literary images of persons who have no flaws and perfectly accommodate us, without requiring any work or accommodation on our parts. When challenges surface it may be tempting to turn our attentions and intentions elsewhere, whether to pornography or Pintrest or Facebook flirtations.
But high-fidelity marriage means being true and faithful to our partners and the covenants we have made, even when they get cranky or make mistakes. It means deeply connecting with someone through and because of their quirks and individual challenges, not in spite of them.
High-fidelity marriage takes effort and time. It requires tolerating discomforts and disappointments without withdrawing or backing away. Such hi-fi marriages don’t happen accidentally or spontaneously. In fact, I don’t think they are natural, as it is our nature to be self-serving and to avoid effort. These marriages are divine.
As I write this piece it occurs to me how many times I have used the word ‘perfect’. Perhaps our definition of perfect—perfect marriage, perfect partner—is imperfect. Perhaps perfection is not an absence of flaws, but about our becoming whole, fully formed and complete.
Michael D. Williams is a licensed psychotherapist, a Marriage and Family Therapist with over 25 years’ experience helping individuals, couples and families. Please visit MichaelWilliamsCounseling.com to offer comments or questions, or to read more, or call 360-2365 to speak with him directly.Share