We think of love as founded on admiration for our partner. Instead, a lot of time, we should see love as an act of generosity towards our partner’s less appealing sides.
Although we may look like adults, in many ways we remain children. Like children, we are not always able to diagnose and communicate what is really bothering us. 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 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.
That’s why we call love, with good reason, hard work. It isn’t a sign that love has gone wrong, but that it’s grown into something mature, substantial, and worth valuing.