I've been thinking a lot about how when you love someone, their flaws can become their charms. The strange, quirky, and even the most irritating things that they feel most self-conscious about — and what others, too, may find off-putting — can become exactly what you adore most.
I tend to talk too much and think too much and write too much. I hog the covers. I'm compulsively, unnecessarily early to any and every event, plus a whopping three hours early to the airport every single time. I have terrible motion sickness, which makes me an awful date for amusement parks, boat rides, and anything that involves a school bus. I'm allergic to cats and dogs, I can't help but comment on every preview in movie theaters, and I'm so afraid of mice, I won't even watch Stuart Little.
On Sundays, I write out plans for the week that rarely come to fruition. I'm picky about certain vegetables, selfish about sharing my favorite foods, and stubborn when it comes to ordering anything but my go-to meal from familiar restaurants. I'm scared of mountain biking and in theory, I love gardening, but in practice, I'd rather just lay out in the sun with a good book and a margarita.
Radley forgets to close cabinets. He leaves the lights on every day in every room and he lets his dirty clothes make a mountain on the bathroom floor. He sometimes pours Cheez-Its straight from the carton onto his chest and eats them from there, and at night, he gets lost in YouTube black holes, learning about weird addictions or sports statistics or the latest conspiracy theories. He keeps leftovers for far too long and ignores expiration dates and never, ever turns down a cup of coffee, even if it makes for his eighth of the day. He can be easily distracted and also easily charmed, for better or for worse.
And despite — or perhaps because of — all this, he loves me, and I love him, and our relationship feels stronger. Neither of us is perfect, to be sure, and every once in a while, we'll feel the need to point that out. If you asked us, though, we'd both admit to loving it all. To loving all of each other, even the worst parts, because we know those pieces and understand them and we're proud that we've learned to navigate those darker patches because that effort marks the difference between love and marriage.
(Photo by my great friend Tom McAndrew)