Love: It’s All about Trust, Acceptance, and Compromise

By Susanne Matthews, author of Just for the WeekendIn Plain Sight, and Fire Angel

Just for the WeekendI’ve been married to the same man for over forty two years. We have three children and five grandchildren, and a lifetime of memories—some good and some not-so-good—and I love him more today than the day I married him. We’re growing old together, enjoying the passing days, accepting the fact we can’t do the things we used to be able to do, and hoping we still have a long time ahead of us. Whenever people ask me why my marriage worked when so many others didn’t, I don’t have to search around for the answer. Love, trust, acceptance, and compromise.

In my opinion, I don’t believe you can love someone if you don’t trust them, and if you can’t accept them for who they really are. If you feel the need to change the person, then you can’t really love them—you may love this idealistic image you’ve created of them, but not them. You can’t change someone else. If change is needed, then you have to change, not them.

The words from Corinthians 13 often read at Christian weddings describe love as: Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered; it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres. Love never fails. (NIV). How are jealousy and violent anger outbursts part of love? How are belittling and demeaning one another part of love? As bad as physical violence is, the emotional damage inflicts permanent scars on the psyches of those involved.

In my first novel, Fire Angel, Jake has difficulty trusting because he was betrayed by someone close to him—someone self-seeking. Alexis has the same problem because she was a victim of violence at the hands of an alcoholic uncle—someone easily angered who failed to protect. In my second novel, In Plain Sight, Misty’s fear of intimacy and love are based in her experiences with a cruel, jealous, and abusive husband—someone who envied and sought to dishonor. Sadly, in reality, love fails far more often than it succeeds.

Far too many people go into relationships with the end purpose of making the other person theirs. It’s what Misty’s husband intended. All the things he liked about her were the very things he wanted to suppress. Is it any wonder she fled that marriage? When she meets Nico, a blind pianist with ghosts of his own to deal with, she worries about putting her life and that of her daughter, the only good thing to come out of her failed marriage, into his hands. It takes a long time and a lot of love to overcome emotional damage like theirs.

People—male or female—are not property. You can’t get someone’s love the way you can get a new car. It has to be given freely. It’s the most precious gift anyone can give or receive. My husband and I are as different as night and day. He’s a fun-loving extroverts who enjoys the company of others, while I’m a stay-at-home introvert who’s happy doing things alone or with him. How did two such different people make a success of their relationship? We compromised. I learned to enjoy some of the things he did, and he learned to like quiet times alone with me.

In my third novel, Just for the Weekend, Cleo and Sam are as different as night and day too. He’s an outgoing, multimillionaire, and she’s a quiet reserved kindergarten teacher who doesn’t trust men with money. Top that off with false identity confusion because of a betrayal in Sam’s past, and Cleo’s fear of notoriety, and you have the recipe for love with the need for compromise.

Love is trust, acceptance, and compromise. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.