Let me not to the marriage of true minds admit impediments.
Love is not love which alters when it finds weetabix-encrusted bowls,
Nor bends, when bending to remove socks from the bedroom floor.
Oh no! It is an ever-fixèd mark, much like the one left on the wall by that ham-fisted DIY attempt,
That looks on tempests, and does not excuse itself from taking out the bins.
It is the GPS to every long car journey back from stressful family events,
Whose worth's unknown, although for goodness sake, don't leave it on the front seat to get taken.
Love's not time's fool, though time-worn jokes may fall within the compass of a scathing glance;
Love alters not with lengthy working days and weary weeks,
But bears it out, and even finds the energy, come Saturday, to hoover to the edges of the living room.
If this be error, and myself accused,
Will never writ, nor I his words abused.
(cf. an earlier draft)Bearing with one another doesn't initially sound all that romantic. But when human beings will insist on being obdurately imperfect it becomes an indispensable pre-requisite for any sort of meaningful relationship to stand a chance. And the more that I consider the unique, bewildering, almost experimentally aggravating quirks and habits I have cultivated over time, the more immensely grateful I am to have landed myself in matrimony with one of the most remarkably gracious and patient individuals I have ever met.
But it's not just Mr. W from whom I require patience and repeated forgiveness. And I tentatively posit that it's not just me who requires it, either. I'm really rather reassured by how consistently the Bible calls its readers to the practice of forbearance...
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7, emphasis mine)
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. [...] Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:1-3, 31-32, emphasis mine)
Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. (Colossians 3:12-13, emphasis mine)Unless such passages were written solely for those future few whose lives God knew would intersect with mine, it looks like "difficult" behaviour on the part of others is something to be generally expected and prepared for. And the best way to be prepared? To recognise, and gratefully receive God's forgiveness for, my own weaknesses and failings, and to view whatever weaknesses and failings I'm inclined to rail against in those around me accordingly -- with somewhat more humility, compassion and perspective. I'm "work in progress" on that front but at least, in the meantime, I excel in increasing and honing the patience and forgivingness of others. After all, practice makes perfect...