“Love does not exist, only demonstrations of love.”
I have been going back and forth with myself about this topic for what feels like ages. Please bear with me through what may be an indirect way of getting at the issue: I love my DH and fell in love with him because of his extraordinarily "good" heart. It's this single factor that made me push through a lot of our downs, especially times when he inadvertently caused me great hurt and pain and frustration. When repeatedly trying to decide whether it was still worth it to continue, my heart always said "of course it's worth it--he's so good, he has such a good heart." But now, after years of this cycle, I'm asking myself to define what I consider to be "good." I guess I should pause here and say that I don't go around categorizing people as "good" or "bad"--I'm not really sure how I would even call someone bad b/c I've always been known to see the good in people, even when no one else does. I have certainly seen people do bad things, but I often think it's b/c of ignorance or lack of learned skills or desperation...so I guess I want to clarify here that I'm not asking anyone to comment on what makes someone "bad" b/c I don't think anyone can be called "bad" through and through. Everyone has some redeeming quality hidden somewhere inside (I think).
A good person, in my opinion, would be someone who: is honest, does not cheat or lie to get ahead at the expense of others; tries to be mindful/thoughtful/considerate, considers how their actions might affect others and uses that info when making decisions; tries to do no harm; is kind; is empathetic. Of course, a good person can make mistakes and make bad decisions..we're all still human, after all. But a good person tries to learn from experiences and aspires to be a better person.
So the tricky thing here is that these qualities can be seen only in a person's actions, you can't see a person's thoughts, so would it be accurate to say that a good person is someone who does good? I don't think so, b/c I think someone could do good things but for the wrong reasons (someone could make a large donation to a charity, but do so only for tax purposes...which, in my mind, wouldn't truly show goodness, even though good resulted from the action). Likewise, someone might not mean to cause hurt/pain, but if he/she does, then doesn't learn from the act and causes hurt/pain again, what then? Or someone might intend to volunteer at an animal shelter, but not get around to it. What do you call someone who has good intentions but can't translate that into good actions?
This is where I am--I have this feeling that my DH is a good person, but when I step back and look at his actions, they don't match my definition of a good person. My DH lies, a lot, mostly to cover up something he did or didn't do, and I assume it's usually b/c of embarrassment, but I can't see that--I can only see his act: in this case, lying. Or worse, he often lies to manipulate a situation to get what he wants (he'll lie about how long it will take to get somewhere he wants to go, or about how much something will cost...). It doesn't appear that he considers how his actions might affect anyone else--example: he went into work late yesterday b/c he was mad that he had to go in on a sunday, but he didn't consider that he had a crew waiting there for him, and they couldn't start until he got there, which meant they had to stay late...strikes me as pretty inconsiderate b/c they probably didn't want to work on sunday either.
This can all be applied to love, too (hence the opening Cocteau quote)--something else that has kept me holding on in this relationship. I stay partly b/c I know how much my DH loves me. But I can't see inside his heart--I can see only his actions, and his actions don't show me that he loves me. I'm not sure exactly what they show, but certainly not that I'm a priority in his life. And yet, when doing "nice" things for me came up in a recent discussion, he said "I do plenty of nice things for you," but couldn't name a single one (and his behavior hasn't changed--this didn't make him realize that maybe he should do nice things for me, or if it did, he's not showing it).
So what am I holding on to, then? Am I holding on to his good intentions, even though I still feel anger, resentment, hurt...all those things? To him being a good person, even though many would question that based on his actions alone?
I think all of this internal dialog feeds into my frustration--in addition to feeling frustration over my marriage, I'm frustrated with myself b/c it seems I cannot make up my mind. One day, I've decided that that's it, I've been unhappy for long enough, I've tried everything our counselors have asked us to try, I haven't seen him want to change anything and I'm tried of waiting for something that may never come. Then, there are days (like today), where I just love him too much to walk away, even though I can't quite explain why.
Anyone else in this spot? Or just want to weigh in on the intent/feeling vs. action issue? There's a lot of talk on these boards about the effects of an ADDer's actions or non-actions, as the case may be, as well as what was intended or not intended. How do you all navigate these waters?