He’s not perfect by Bob Marley

Genuine love and loveliness doesn't need to compete with commercial love

I hear a lot of wedding readings. A LOT. Sometimes, in just one wedding alone I can hear three readings! I also hear a lot of the same readings, but do you know what? I don’t mind one bit, because I honestly believe that if a reading resonates with you, then you should have it in your ceremony, regardless of its popularity, unpopularity, length (within reason!) or style.

So given that my head is full of wedding readings, you can imagine my total surprise earlier this summer, when I came across this Bob Marley poem/quote for the first time ever in EIGHT YEARS. A reading which not only totally blew me away, because it’s fabulous but also because it’s by Bob Marley. I never even knew the guy wrote poems. But then what is a song, if not a poem accompanied by a backing track!? Anyway, before I start gushing even more about the amazingness that is this poem, let me give you a chance to read it first!

He’s not perfect. You aren’t either, and the two of you will never be perfect. But if he can make you laugh at least once, causes you to think twice, and if he admits to being human and making mistakes, hold onto him and give him the most you can.

He isn’t going to quote poetry, he’s not thinking about you every moment, but he will give you a part of him that he knows you could break. Don’t hurt him, don’t change him, and don’t expect for more than he can give. Don’t analyze.

Smile when he makes you happy, yell when he makes you mad, and miss him when he’s not there. Love hard when there is love to be had. Because perfect guys don’t exist, but there’s always one guy that is perfect for you.”

Why do I love this poem?

One thing that I can’t get enough of about this poem is that it’s REAL. Yes, I did need to capitalize and bold that word. It is so real and what I mean by this is that it deals with the realities of love and being in a relationship in an honest and truthful way. It’s so on the money that you cannot help but nod or smile at every line, because he speaks the truth. It’s not a poem about how wonderful and profound love is (not that there’s anything wrong with readings like these), it is a poem about how we push each other’s buttons and how love is in the real world!

I think this is also why I like similar themed poems like ‘Yes I’ll marry you’ by Pam Ayres and He never leaves the seat up, which famously is attributed to Pam Ayres, but she says she never wrote it. (Note to self to look into this mystery!) And also, ‘For now’ by Tracey Emin is very real.

Wedding portrait

Photo by Andreas Holm

Keeping it real

I think having a reading like this in your wedding ceremony, can speak volumes about the way you view your relationship. With weddings nowadays it is very easy to create a wedding environment that exudes perfection (whether you intend it to or not!); your dress, your venue, the décor, the food, the party, everything that you have included on your big day. Sometimes it is nice to bring a bit of reality into all of this ‘perfection’ and to say, you know what, we know how to put on a good show and a good party, but we also know where we’re coming from too. We know exactly what we’re signing up to here. We love each other with our whole hearts and would fly to the moon and back for each other, but we also know there are days when we irritate the hell out of each other and sometimes can’t stand to look at that their face (I hope that’s not just me!).

It is no secret that marriage is tough. It can be frustrating, tiring, worrying, and bloody hard work. I love my husband to death but he seriously does my head in at least once a day, as well as making my belly hurt with laughter too. I’m sure I make him feel the same (once in a while!) But that is life, people! And that is what this poem represents.

Smile when he makes you happy, yell when he makes you mad and miss him when he’s not there.

Given the society that we live in today and the fact that we are more aware of ourselves, our places in the world and who we are as individuals, sometimes I think it’s nice to recognize this at a time so important, such as the start of a marriage. What better time to remind us all that our partners and our marriages are not perfect, they are just perfect for us and for our world that we create together.

So this is why I love this poem so much, because it really is so important in life to be realistic about what love is and what it and marriage means. That very line ‘he’s not perfect’ just seems it all up. Because of course, no one is. And neither is marriage, but we make of it the best we can, with our best intentions and our whole hearts.

And one last thing, I know this poem is called, ‘He’s not perfect,’ but I think this poem is universal. Bob Marley wrote this poem from his point of view because he was a man in a relationship with a woman but I would love to see this poem adapted and used by anyone, whatever their sex and I bet there probably have been a few ‘She’s not perfect,’ adaptations, too. I’m sure Bob wouldn’t mind.

Psst! Get you vow inspo right here…

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About the author

Natasha Johnson

Natasha Johnson is an experienced Wedding Celebrant, blogger and writer on all things related to weddings, in particular wedding ceremonies. Her mission is life is to encourage couples to see the importance of their wedding ceremony and to get married in just the way they want to. Make sure you catch her on the Engaged and Ready Wedding Podcast, here or on iTunes and Stitcher.


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