I’m lucky to have a wonderful example of forgiveness and empathy in my own home. I see how traits in my wife can transform a difficult situation and turn it into an opportunity for us to grow closer.
I am pretty comfortable going through life without a plan, and messes don’t really bother me. However, this is far from the case with my wife. She is very organized and regimented. She also loves it when we do things together, even if it’s something as simple as folding laundry.
I spent a year exploring and backpacking before we met, so I’m used to doing things on my own terms. More importantly, these experiences have made me very rebellious. I often do the opposite of what I am told or expected to. In those moments, I feel that it’s my life, and I should have the freedom to do what I want when I want.
Getting married and sharing my life with someone else has been quite a transition, one I’m still adjusting to. When my wife tells me we need to eat healthier or asks me to do chores at a certain time with her, it often make me want to rebel, and sometimes I do. I’m so used to being on my own that it can feel like a constraint on my personal freedom
In those moments, I fight to be alone. I pull away from her. A few times, I’ve gotten so upset when my wife has strongly insisted that I do something I don’t think I should have to do, that I have even threatened to walk out of our apartment.
But somehow, she always forgives me when I’m not at my best. The patience and love she has shown for me baffle me sometimes. I don’t think I really deserve it.
To be fair, I have good qualities too, and there is a lot that I do for my wife. We have a pretty good relationship and plenty of shared values. But it’s easy to love me when I am at my best or am still being loving myself. It can’t be so easy when I’m not.
There’s a famous quote often attributed to Marilyn Monroe (if we can trust the Internet memes) in which she says, “If you can’t handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don’t deserve me at my best.” I have always hated this quote for its unapologetic attitude and blatant selfishness. However, since being married, I have learned to understand its merits.
It’s incredibly powerful when someone chooses to care for you when you’re at your worst, which is something we both promised when we exchanged vows. To know that person is there for you even when you don’t think you deserve it.
That’s what I think love is. It’s seeing that someone cares about you so much that even when you’re being petty, silly, and hurtful, they will still love you through it. I believe in love because I’ve been loved at my worst.