They say opposites attract, and if you look at the bookshelf above, you might see this illustrated perfectly. There is a distinct difference in the left side vs. the right side. One half belongs to me, and the other to my husband of twenty-six years today, my mate for thirty. Both are actually organized to our liking—by subject matter mostly—but I prefer my titles neat and tidy, from tallest to shortest, even if that means fudging things here and there, while his are organized by subject matter even though several subjects must share one shelf.
The old me might have been bothered by the appearance of his “side” because clutter and loose ends drive me a little crazy, even though I’ve been living with them for decades. Try as I might to avoid it, life is full of both. But I don’t feel like straightening up his books now (much) because I’ve come to accept my guy’s idiosyncrasies every bit as much as his personality traits, methods of operation and general demeanor.
He’d be the first to tell you he’s a handful, and if you know him well, you might agree. But for me, sitting over here in the passenger seat, it’s my privilege (and sometimes challenge) to see the whole person he is. I’ve always contended he is the square peg to our round ones as he simply doesn’t see the world the way most of us do, nor does he interact with humans the way most of us do. It’s almost like we’re speaking a different language.
Despite this, over the years, my husband has taught me more about love than I learned the lifetime before we met. He is positively unconditional about his love for me as well as trustworthy, loyal, honest, doting and committed. He speaks to me, and about me to others, with reverence and respect. He sometimes jokes that he “seethes romance,” and in actuality, he is an old school romantic. He believes in forever love, in honest unity, in spending as much time as humanly possible together before we’re gone.
Loving someone unconditionally is my best relationship advice ever. That means loving the whole person—shortcomings, longcomings and everything in between—24/7. Aside from the obvious (like abuse), when the going gets tough, stay in there and fight through it. Resist the urge to flee and see if the grass is greener on the other side. The grass may look greener, but no matter what lawn you lay on, you are still gonna deal with pesky insects, weeds, worms under the soil, dirt patches and the regular need to mow. No one is perfect.
It’s not easy to love unconditionally. Sure it is when your person is acting amazing, funny, generous and kind. But when he/she is behaving their worst, it can be repelling. We respond defensively or with frustration and anger. I contend that’s when our mates need our love the most. It’s a clue they are off-kilter, whether rational or not. Is bailing the answer, or does a little understanding and empathy seem a better way to go?
Love wins, and I believe that. And love, in its truest sense, should be unconditional. That doesn’t mean accepting every behavior that bothers you, but to work it out, talk it out, show up for both parties so you can go on loving and growing.
As for the small stuff (like a messy bookshelf) I recommend letting it go. Let others have their space to live and thrive in their own special ways while you have your own, too. Be accepting, understanding and compassionate. Make some concessions, remember to be flexible. Feel gratitude for your partner. Choose harmony. Love with your whole heart. You just might be amazed at the levels you reach personally and with your significant other.
My husband and me the day we eloped at the Arlington Courthouse twenty-six years ago and
celebrating our twenty-fourth wedding anniversary in the Outer Banks in 2017.
A collection of columns, articles and general a-musings.