We’re used to thinking about love as a kind of admiration for perfection. But there’s another side to what love should mean: tolerance for, and imagination about, the less than perfect sides of others.
Although it is gratifying to be admired, we will finally have tasted love when it is our weaknesses that inspire a kindly response.
We look like adults, but in many ways we remain children.
This doesn’t mean our partners should be treated like children but that their complaints might need to be translated for their deeper meaning.
When we can manage it, we should focus on soothing and reassuring behavior rather than hitting back with equal force.
The will to be generous isn’t weakness, it’s charity towards the partner’s frailties—based on a sound recognition that we too will soon enough need them to be benevolent to us.
Anyone we get together with will, over time, require a considerable degree of generosity.
With enough patience and sympathy we could love almost anyone, even the most outwardly gnarled and damaged person.
Love is hard work, and needs to grow into something mature, substantial, and worth valuing.
Photo: School of Life/Still