Dearest Rachel –
There’s a story about Sir Thomas More that, when approached by a prospective suitor for the hand of one of his daughters in marriage, he took the young man to the girl’s bedchamber, whereupon he stripped her naked before him so that he could see what he would be getting in the arrangement.
I have to say, now that’s a prospective father-in-law.
To be sure, I haven’t exactly been able to confirm that this actually happened, or if so, to which of his daughters he subjected this indignity to. It does, however, line up with the practice of the people he describes in his book Utopia, so it might stand to reason that he would practice the sort of thing he preached in his (albeit fictional) work. To be sure, in keeping with the practice he described, he would have insisted that, once his daughter had recovered from the ordeal and dressed herself again, he would have insisted that the young man undress for her benefit in turn. Sauce for the goose and all that.
I suppose there are worse ways to start off an engagement.
Personally, (and here’s where I’m going with all this), I’m of the opinion that the best way to know if you and your significant other are right for each other is to deal with each other when each of you is suffering from a bad cold.
I don’t know which of us go off lighter on that subject. Probably me. My colds would practically lay me out for a solid 24 hours – and my assertion yesterday to the contrary, I’m in the throes of that right about now – and then I would be basically back to normal. By contrast, when you would get a cold, it would be barely noticeable, just enough to be an inconvenient irritant, but it would last for the better part of a month, if not longer. I always insisted that we got the same amount of cold, just spread over different time periods. But I barely had to deal with yours at all, while you would be taking over the entire household duties for a day or so while I was incapacitated, so there’s that.
I’ve heard people condemn the faux Marilyn Monroe quote about how “if you can’t handle me at my worst, you don’t deserve me at my best,” as being selfish and unfair. Their point is somewhat fair, as everyone has toxic behaviors that really shouldn’t be simply accepted, and certainly not as a prerequisite for being able to see one’s better self.
But the fact of the matter is, we are humanly incapable of constantly being at our best, mentally, emotionally… and physically. Some times, you just have a bad hair day. Some days, you’re just in a fog. Some days, you are sad or angry for no obvious reason…
…and some days, you’re just plain-out fighting an illness. So, ladies, if you’re interested…
In all seriousness, every relationship has to deal with both the good and the bad. There will be illnesses, and more of them as time goes on – there’s a reason the traditional vows mention “in sickness and in health,” after all, among other potential shortcomings that are beyond the control of either partner.
And some habits are worth dealing with for the sake of marital harmony. There are folks, I imagine, that look at the ‘before’ pictures as Jan and I go through this house, and just ‘nope’ right out of here. They wouldn’t have been able to deal with this. But the thing is, we were compatible on so many other levels that this was a relatively small matter in comparison.
One of our otaku friends we used to meet up with at one of the conventions we regularly attended asked us about our ability to balance marriage, fandoms and faith. I forget whether we had anything approaching a serviceable answer for him, but the point was that his wife was just not into anime – I think she even believed it sinful, probably thanks to its reputation for certain, ah, adult genres. And while that, too, is a fair point, there is a part of the martial relationship that is, by definition, adult, so that shouldn’t be as much of an issue as she appeared, from what we heard, to have made it. And considering what a substantial part of his life anime was, we thought it rather a shame that the two of them couldn’t share it adequately. This should have been the sort of thing that was part of the discussion beforehand, just so each of them would know what they were getting into.
Now, sometimes, there are cases where that sort of thing comes later, and you don’t see it coming when the two of you connect. In that case, I think you have to be reasonably supportive, if you’re the one who isn’t exactly ‘into it.’ After all, you followed Daniel into brony-hood as he got into MLP:FIM and became a pega-sister. Meanwhile, I was so preoccupied with work life and so forth that even my otaku nature was starting to wither. But I gave you two your space and you watched the episodes and various critiques, and even as you headed to conventions both here (yes, literally one village over in Schaumburg) and up in Milwaukee. You both had a good time, and that was what mattered.
As Kahlil Gibran put it, we had “spaces in our togetherness” where they were needed. Although, in fairness, I went with you to the last ‘convention’ we attended – although how could I not? – when we joined the SeaBronies on their trip to the Caribbean. Hey, some things you can enjoy even when you’re not a fan.
You’ve just got to know what you’re getting into.
Thank you so much, honey, for a wonderful ride.