We can’t be on our best behavior every waking second. All we can do is try not to hurt the one we love the most.

I’m telling you the secret so you memorize it without question. So the truth will quiet your heart in moments of doubt. I’m confiding in you to save you heartache and second-guessing. And because I wish someone had told me.

Eventually…I figured it out myself. Yet It didn’t come without a lot of soul searching and determined plumbing to get to the meat and gristle of my relationship. Anyway, here it is.

You will give the person you love the most, the shaft.

The shaftiest shaft, the pointiest, hurtiest spear available in your arsenal.

And they will give it right back.

Seventy-four percent of the time giving, or getting the shaft will be an accident.

Eighty-five percent of the time, it will be a surprise.

Always, it hurts.

Why is this a nasty fact in relationships? When we embark on a fresh promise with our dewy, ideal love-mates, surely, we never predict, I am going to ignore you if it’s easier to get you to stop talking after my long day. I’ll tell you what I really think of your talents and you know, it might not be the most tactful. When you’re sick and irritating me all to hell, I will wish that you would shut up. And when you’re not expecting it, I will be rude because I’m tired of being too careful.

But real love is ugly, isn’t it? It’s horking in the middle of the night when you are the last one to succumb to the family stomach bug; it’s smelly Dutch oven wind rising from the bed covers to the delight of your chortling partner; it’s the tears leaking down your face when you hold a pet as it dies and your partner beside you buckles over in their own sobs. It’s hairy legs and hairy everything in its wild glory. Real love is the ugliest beauty queen you have ever spied, darting in the woods like a rare Yeti.

We are always trying to capture it.

Wrapped in this perplexing package, at the core of love is acceptance, the kind that comes from day-in-and-day-out again, and again and again. The kind you wouldn’t trade, but that naturally exposes your partner to your less-lovely side. It is begging for this grotesque acceptance and safety, and it is liberation when you receive it. It’s why we all get the shaft…because we can’t be on our best behavior every waking second. All we can do is try so hard not to hurt the one we love the most. The one doing their damndest to care for us in the way we need.

We will get it wrong here and there, and so will our others. For the amount of intimate time we immerse ourselves in, this is a certainty and we should welcome it and prepare for it.

In the end. Real, enduring love forgives, then makes up its mind to forget for the sake of preserving the other. Simply, loving the other despite our own slighted emotions is the loftiest goal.

So you young couples cloaked in the tender, pristine pelt of love, this is knowledge you need to survive, when one day, your love seems less blissful. Your love will have earned a touch of tarnish around the edges. One day your love will nearly break you as pain steals your breath. Try not to be surprised. It’s nothing personal. It’s definitely eventual and if you can take that chuck on the chin, that nick to your heart, you have a winning shot at surviving love’s occasional darts and blows with a wonderful, human trying their most valiant to adore you…and mostly getting it right.

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Original article appeared at The Good Men ProjectReprinted with permission.

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