Passion, Tenderness, and Joy
I am a huge Alice fan and I have been so for the past 10 years. I just read Now I’ll Tell You Everything, and I was struck by the mention of the three components of love: passion, tenderness, joy. I have been in a relationship for the past three and a half years, but it feels stagnant quite a bit. To be frank, I am much more academically smart than he is and we have radically different interests. I like books and world issues, but when I bring these up to him he doesn’t seem interested. He focuses on smaller things in life, like TV shows and video games he enjoys. I have passion, I have tenderness, but I don’t have the kind of joy I have always wanted for myself. I would love your advice.
Your situation could have described my first marriage, although our differences weren’t the same as yours. Three and a half years, I believe, are long enough to give you a look at the future, were you to stay together.
I am less bothered by the difference in intelligence as by his seeming indifference or even curiosity about subjects that are important to you. One of my best friends was a man who never went to college, but who could discuss almost any topic, simply because he was curious about the world. Do you really want to settle for a life without the kind of joy you might feel with someone who shares the big things with you, and for whom the little differences don’t matter? Imagine your life together five years from now. I rather doubt you would be joyfully planning your future with him. It’s unfair for you to try to make this man into something he’s not, or vice versa. When I married for the second time, “passion, tenderness, and joy” was part of our ceremony. Be good to yourself. Phyllis