My writing class is made up of a rather large circle of women of all ages and social backgrounds. In class, we are frequently reminded to assume good will on the part of others. That is the one vital thing that makes the writing group a positive experience: an assumption of good will.
In writing class, we listen to other people's work and provide feedback that the writer requests. We share our own writing and receive critiques in return. We assume good will on the part of the person writing and, more importantly, on the part of the person giving the critique, the person listening to a story or poem or personal reflection that we wrote and had the courage to share by reading it out loud to a group of strangers.
It occurred to me earlier this week that my marriage would be stronger if we both adopted that rule at home. No matter what, assume good will on the part of your spouse. Even if he royally screws up in any variety of ways, he didn't intend to hurt me. And I never intend to do anything that would hurt him. We are two halves of the same whole, we are best friends, we have decided to live together for infinity - we should be able to assume good will even if the other person does something that hurt us.
I am on my second marriage. When I got divorced after 13 or 14 years of marriage with small children I cared for full-time, I decided I would never get married again. And then I met my husband. I wanted to marry him, and my kids wanted him for their stepdad.
I met him at work. Absolutely every person who knows him, who has worked with him, knows he is a genuinely good guy that would do anything for anyone. He is generous to a fault. He is also quirky and disorganized. His personality and behaviors are often in direct conflict with my equally quirky personality and behaviors. This often causes problems for us, but we never mean to hurt each other. My husband approaches life with good will like no one I have ever met. I want to be more like him in this quality that seems to be his driving force.
And yet people that should know him better sometimes presume his disorganization and difficulty managing delivering the generosity he often offers is an act of ill will. It's not.
Even my ex-husband and my ex-in-laws know better. They adore his generous spirit and the way he loves everyone around him unconditionally. So do his friends, my kids, and me. There's nothing not to adore about him. He is flawed, but absolutely always does his best to please everyone in his personal life. One person cannot please 30 or so people every day. But he tries...and he will try again tomorrow and the day after. It is who he is.