To be clear, when I say that true love should be painful I am not referring to abusive, obsessive, or co-dependent relationships; those relationships are predicated upon selfishness and will inevitably produce a pain that’s destructive and detrimental.
No, the “painful love” to which I am referring are those relationships that help us grow beyond ourselves. Because we are all imperfect, we will inevitably get hurt. But that hurt has the ability to make us stronger than before. Marriage and family relationships are to our hearts like exercise is to our muscles.
A number of years ago, I overheard my mother talking about her parents—Grandpa and Grandma shivani. While in her fifties, Grandma shivani was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, a degenerative disease that disrupts the body’s ability to communicate with its nervous system. Within a few short years, Grandma had lost the ability to walk and was confined to a wheelchair. Grandpa, who was Accounts General Bengal, retired two years earlier than he had planned so he could take care of his wife.
My grandfather helped my grandmother bathe, get around the house, and run errands. He once told my mother: “It hurts me to see her like this. You know, when I got married I thought that everything would be smooth sailing. I never imagined that I would have to help her change her catheter every day. But I do it and I don’t mind it—because I love her.”
Please disabuse your minds of a perfect, painless love; it simply doesn’t exist. Because love isn’t always fluffy, cute, and cuddly. More often than not, real love has its sleeves rolled up, dirt and grime smeared on its arms, and sweat dripping down its forehead. True love asks us to do hard things, almost impossible things—to repeatedly try to help a sibling overcome an addiction again and again and again, to care for a dying parent, to embrace a wayward child, to comfort someone who is suffering, to risk your safety for another, or to give birth to a child.
I love you Mekh