To all my married/engaged/otherwise coupled friends and acquaintances: I ask you, have you ever hated your significant other?
I don’t mean hate like, “oh, I just hate him, haha!” I mean HATE. In all caps. Maybe even bolded.
If you say no, well, I guess that is nice. How lovely for you. Me? I have hated. I do hate, right now. That is why I’m writing this. I hate my husband! Profoundly and with extreme malice!
Once again, let me assure you I am not referring to your average, run-of-the-mill anger and/or dislike. I mean hate, as in, if he suddenly got shot in the stomach, I would kneel down next to him and stare into his eyes and pull his intestines out inch by inch with my bare hands. And then I would wrap the intestines around his neck and head and perhaps stuff the ends into his mouth and I would say, “There. Now you have something to complain about.”
Can I tell you, I feel SO MUCH BETTER just writing this down?
And that’s the thing about hate, isn’t it? Well, about hating your loved ones, anyway. In particular the loved ones whom you’ve chosen as your romantic partner and are therefore expected to spend the rest of your stupid life with. The hate never lasts. It’s almost like it can’t last. The Hate Train loses steam, you get bored with it, you move on. No matter what you do, no matter how firmly you tell yourself this time I’m staying mad forever! — it just doesn’t work.
Sigh. I guess that’s a good thing. Sustainable hate is a scary concept. Plus, it gets awkward around the kids. Plus, I get tired of shooting withering glares and find it a huge relief to return to my regular, everyday glares.
Although, you can always make yourself re-mad, if you want to. This takes some focus but it can work if you try. I am pretty sure I hated my husband for all of 2010, which I know because I write a lot of shit down. And when I reviewed my 2010 notes recently, I made myself re-mad about things that happened over six years ago. It’s true that the state of being re-mad is even more fleeting than regular mad, but it can be soothing to revisit the righteous anger of days gone by.
It’s interesting, isn’t it, that in America we say “mad” when we are angry, when in fact the primary meaning of the word “mad” is something very different? The first definition of “mad” on dictionary.com is “mentally disturbed; deranged; insane; demented.” Which, quite frankly, is hitting the nail on the head. When I look at my husband and think, I am so mad at you, what I really mean is, I am feeling very mentally disturbed right now, and deranged enough to murder you in your sleep as I have planned to so many times in the past.
Speaking of definitions, though. Referring to dictionary.com again I see that the first meaning of “love” is “a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person.” I don’t disagree with that. I do at times feel a very profound affection for this man that I have married. He cares about things. He can be very nice, more to other people than to me but, still. He lets people go in traffic and remains patient in the slow lane instead of shooting past everyone and then trying to cut in at the last second. He does things for my parents when I ask him and sometimes when I don’t. He is generally a good person whom I sometimes see across a crowded room and think, awwww. He’s so cute.
I still hate him. But this is where dictionary.com gets it wrong. Under antonyms for love they list “hatred” and “dislike,” which really makes me wonder where they’re getting their information. We do not arrive at hate because there is no love left; in fact, I believe I specifically hate my husband in direct proportion to the degree I normally love him. Indifference is the feeling we have to watch out for. Indifference means, I don’t care whether you live or die. Indifference means I can’t even be bothered to talk about you, or to discuss how much I hate you on the internet. There cannot be hate without love, but there can be indifference without anything at all.
And that is how I know I have not married the entirely wrong person, here. Because even when I really feel like puncturing all of his organs and watching him slowly deflate like our blow-up Christmas yard decorations, the fact is that I feel something. I hope he is comforted by that fact, when he reads this.
Which is not to say he shouldn’t watch his back. Did you hear that, sweetie? Oh, shut up, I’m just kidding. Fine, be mad if you want. Just don’t be indifferent.
Much love to all you haters out there.