It is a curious thought, but it is only when you see people looking ridiculous, that you realize just how much you love them! Anyone can admire somebody for being handsome or amusing or charming, but that bubble is soon pricked when a trace of ridicule comes in. I should give as my advice to any girl about to get married: “Well now, just imagine he had a terrible cold in his head, speaking through his nose all full of b’s and d’s, sneezing, eyes watering. What would you feel about him?” It’s a good test, really. What one needs to feel for a husband, I think, is the love that is tenderness, that comprises affection, that will take colds in the head and little ridiculous mannerisms all in it’s stride. Passion one can take for granted.
But marriage means more than a lover—I take an old-fashioned view that respect is necessary. Respect—which is not to be confused with admiration. To feel admiration for a man all through one’s married life would, I think, be excessively tedious. You would get, as it were, a mental crick in the neck. But respect is a thing that you don’t have to think about, that you know thankfully is there. As the old Irish woman said of her husband, “Himself is a good head to me.” That, I think, is what a woman needs. She wants to feel that in her mate there is integrity, that she can depend on him and respect his judgment, and that when there is a difficult decision to be made it can safely lie in his hands.
—Agatha Christie from her Autobiography.
In the previous passage Christie describes how she knew she loved her mother when she would fall asleep reading Dickens aloud, looking ridiculous with her spectacles slipping down her nose.
Perhaps this is why I love to recount the story of how Dom asked me for a kiss on the first date that I didn’t realize was a date and how we didn’t really see each other for 18 months after that awkward ending to what had otherwise been a perfectly wonderful evening. He always gets embarrassed because he feels the anecdote makes him look ridiculous. But perhaps it is looking back at both of us being so very ridiculous in the ways that are so particular to each of us: Him in his impulsiveness swept away by the moment; me in my stubbornness refusing to have anything to do with him because of one mistake. And yet looking back to that moment he doesn’t seem at all ridiculous to me but only his own dear self. And there are a few of those moments when at the time I was infuriated by his ridiculousness and yet also drawn to him at the same time. His very impulsiveness is a trait I recognize I do not have and so it balances me quite nicely. I am so very grateful that after my ungracious refusal he was so very persistent. If it had been up to me, we’d probably have never spoken again. Oh how narrowly we almost didn’t end up together!