the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

The Perfect Couple

It was Sophia’s birthday on Saturday, and we went to LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art).   We had a great day together.

“Are you two getting back together?” a friend texted me.

“No,” I answered. “Just a fun day out for her birthday.”

“You just seem so perfect together.”

“Perfect?!  Ha.  We are far from it.”

Sophia and I love each other, but the perfect couple we’re not.   We never were.

We tried our best, but we both want something more from a partner, a love that boils over and makes us want to shout it out to the world.   Something a little bit closer to the perfection of a Perfect Couple.

Does this Perfect Couple exist?   Or is it an illusion, the relationship equivalent of the bikini model drinking a Coke?

But then, on Saturday evening, as we left the museum, Sophia and I encountered them. It was the Perfect Couple, right on Wilshire Blvd in Los Angeles.

If God was a chef, this couple would be his signature dish. They would be spiced with respect, love, and passion, and as they marinated in His blessings, happiness and joy would waft through His kitchen, out the window, and throughout the world.

And they were standing right in front of us.

“Take an instagram photo!” said Sophia, as we both stared, confronted with our own  inadequacies.

After taking a few photos of the Perfect Couple on Wilshire Blvd., we discovered that we had stumbled into someone else’s photo shoot, and this couple were models.

But the Perfect Couple is a standard that is hard to let go, even if it is a fantasy.


  1. sandra

    I have to say, I didn’t believe it until the past year or so…but my god, my boyfriend and I are — although not perfect on our own, like everyone else — near perfect together. We are, in fact, nauseating. 🙂 And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

    • Neil

      Did he get your roses for Valentine’s Day? Huh? Let’s see how perfect he really IS!

      • sandra

        Ha — he did, actually. After working a Fashion Week shoot from 4:30 a.m. – 9:30 p.m., he arrived at home with them in hand. And I, in turn, had a glass of bourbon and some comfort food waiting for him. 🙂

        • Neil

          If it doesn’t work out, can I date him?

  2. Poppy

    The Perfect Couple is one who actually wants who they’re with. It exists. 🙂

  3. pia

    I got married in college. Proud to call him one of my best friends, my mentor, and often my editor. We’re great together. Just not as a couple. And nobody gets our work or our lines like we do. That counts. A lot.

    I guess I have always longed for the illusion (with somebody else) but known that the perfect couple is a picture

  4. Peeved Michelle


  5. Mocha

    I read this aloud to The Cuban and said, “Isn’t it funny that they came upon this seemingly Perfect Couple?” and then I answered my own unasked question of “Isn’t that the whole point of the idea of one?”

    This was so beautiful, Neil. Very simple and reminded me to see the beauty in the imperfect relationship that I’m currently in and not try to make it ‘perfect’. We do, however, want to shout it from the rooftops to the world but only because we feel so lucky to have found a match.

  6. kenju

    That proves everything is an illusion.

  7. flutter

    I enjoy the imperfections too much to be perfect. I will take the crazy noise he makes when I accidentally put my cold toes in the backs of his knees. I will take that he doesn’t try to hide when he doesn’t like what I cook, because even if it’s not polite, it’s the truth.

    I will take it all in our messy house with our stinky dog, because it isn’t perfect…but it’s real.

    • sandra

      My $0.02 is the imperfections *are* what makes it perfect.

  8. scott

    I don’t believe in perfection, but my marriage is wonderful. It is possible to have a great, healthy relationship.

    Hello, Neil.

  9. Gwendomama

    Neil. All These years I have followed you. But, this post is stunning. Thank you so much for your carefully chosen words and images. You are worthy.

  10. Headless Mom

    I love when you post. This is really lovely.

    I’m lucky enough to have a great marriage. It’s tough work but well worth it.

  11. carrien (she laughs at the days)

    Real marriages are hard work. The ones that look easy are either faking it or they already did the work and put in the time to get to where they are.
    Marriage is a life of service. People who go into marriage thinking about what they’re going to get out of it are usually going to be disappointed.

    I’m pretty sure perfect is an illusion and has nothing to do with reality. I do however think I’ve found the perfect pair of shoes, and Sophia is wearing them in that photo.

  12. Samantha

    Superbly written, Neil. *** There is no perfect. There are only priorities, and finding a person who meets the wants and needs that you have decided are most important.

  13. Sara Sunshine

    The phrase that comes to mind, reading this, is “Don’t let the perfect become the enemy of the good.”

  14. thordora

    I’ve found my “perfect” match-because we’re imperfect, and we know it, and we love it. We fit.

    It is real, but it’s far from perfect. That’s what’s so awesome about it. 🙂

    Lovely post.

  15. Sarah Piazza

    This made me laugh out loud. I scared the cat.

  16. V-Grrrl @ Compost Studios

    Carrien dared to say it: Marriage is a life of service.

    No one wants to admit that, not to themselves, not to their partners.

    The “service” isn’t necessarily for the other person (though sometimes it most definitely is); more often the “service” is rendered for the sake of you and your mate as a COUPLE. Sometimes you work together like a well oiled machine and life seems perfect, but sometimes the gears grind or come to a halt and you wonder if you even want to bother figuring out why, let alone invest energy in fixing it.

    I’ve been with my Man for decades. We have had golden eras when things were perfect; we’ve also had long periods when we were just barely functioning and not really sure we would ever really connect in a deep way again. We hung on because the fact that we could function together as a team even when we weren’t feeling close or loved reminded us we had important things in common. Those years were “Service to the Couple” years. I know I could not have stayed in that mode of operation indefinitely, and I feel fortunate that we have, more than once, managed to steer the Titanic away from the iceberg.

    • Patti

      yes, this. 🙂

  17. Sarah

    This just helped me an awful lot:

  18. Sarah

    Oops, that didn’t work.

    • Neil

      The fact that you had to send me that in two comments shows that you aren’t perfect. But I like that.

  19. Dana

    I just read a great piece in Psychology Today that reveals the lie behind the idea of a “perfect” mate. Did you see it?
    One of the lines I related to most: “In mature love,” says Meinecke, “we do not look to our partner to provide our happiness, and we don’t blame them for our unhappiness. We take responsibility for the expectations that we carry, for our own negative emotional reactions, for our own insecurities, and for our own dark moods.”
    My husband and I, we’re not the perfect couple by any measure. But nearly 12 years into this marriage (and 16 years into the relationship), I’d say ‘yes’ all over again. Without hesitation.
    Like V-Grrrl and her Man, we’ve endured long, barely-functioning stretches too, but we were lucky to eventually steer the Titanic away from the iceberg.

    • Neil

      I think I probably look to the other for ultimate happiness more than is healthy.

  20. Varda (SquashedMom)

    This post? Perfect.

    And, can I say again? Your photos are stunning and stupendous. Still blows me away that you don’t realize how good you are.

  21. erykah

    Great photos. I don’t think true love is fantasy. It is being loved for who you are & who you are not. It means you can be your whole self. I think real love is not just receiving it, but a desire to also give it.

  22. Jenn

    Neilie. Couples aren’t, but your writing is. This…oh, so good. I think there’s a pretty critical difference between “perfect” and “perfect-for-me/you.” For sure.

  23. Stacey

    We are far from the perfect couple, but we work. That’s enough for me.

  24. Vikki

    You two may not be the perfect couple, but it sounds like you comprise the perfect friendship.

  25. Kara

    I don’t thing it’s a case of illusion but more a matter of perspective.

  26. sizzle

    I like Poppy’s comment!

  27. mara

    It’s a bit ironic that our version of a perfect couple is reflected by models and acting. But, real life is nothing like that. In our pursuit of that boiling over, maybe we overlook the perfect imperfection right in front of our faces. I’m happy in the comfortable coziness of my long marriage. My spice has mellowed 🙂

  28. MD

    As I’ve said many times, a good relationship is like a duck. Everything may look smooth on the surface but underneath you’ve got to paddle like hell.

    In a world filled with people with their own imperfections, there might not be such thing as a perfect couple…

    but I like to think that there is.

  29. Marinka

    they are perfect. I’m definitely going to buy whatever they’re selling.

  30. Amalie Garvoille

    I’m a hopeless romantic, Neil. I still believe in soul mates and true love. But I cracked up when your “perfect couple” turned out to be a photographer’s model. We certainly go through our share of facsimiles before finding the real thing, don’t we! Am enjoying your writing very much!

  31. Ruth

    Nice one….really nice. Yes you do “deserve to be” on my list of admirable personal bloggers.

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