I once heard that a woman I knew was marrying a man I knew.  I was a little surprised.  I had earlier decided that the man was less . . . desirable than the woman, for reasons too ungenerous to name.  But I was for the marriage if she was for the marriage because, after all, he was a good man, and kind, and who am I to stand in the way of true love?  And, too, because I knew this: that woman would be her husband’s biggest fan.  No matter whom she married, she would be her husband’s biggest fan.  And that seemed like great gift to give to a marriage.

I have since begun to worry that I won’t be my husband’s biggest fan.

I’m pretty critical, in my head and out of my mouth sometimes.  Even to people I love.  I’m ashamed to say, perhaps especially to people I love.

I used to think that maybe it wasn’t necessary to be my husband’s biggest fan.  Or my family’s.  Or my best friend’s.  Maybe my loving them the truest—seeing their faults, loving them for or in spite of their weaknesses (I hadn’t decided yet)—would be enough.  After all, how can we love truly if we don’t see clearly?  And what is true love if not helping other people to become their best selves?

(Though I have to admit: when I’m slogging through it in an actual relationship, I often wish that my partner would cherish me a little more and correct me a little less.  When I’m the one giving out the correction, this is easy to forget.)

I’m not sure that loving with eyes open isn’t still the best kind of love.  But I am beginning to question the role that criticizing has to play in any of this.  Criticizing, correcting, nagging—pick your playing-on-the-other-person’s-side-of-the-net –ing verb.  There is a fine line between perceiving a weakness in others and wanting to bring it to their attention.  And it is a line that I too often cross.

Too often.

And, as two friends reminded me recently, it so rarely works.  And it hurts the ones I love.  And it’s annoying.  And it makes me feel mean and self-righteous and petty and defensive.  Importantly—it makes me feel those ways when I’m the one pointing out others’ weaknesses.  When I’m the one not being the Biggest Fan.

And there are people in my life for whom I should be the Biggest Fan.  Or one of.  And frankly, I don’t have any excuses because I know how great it is.  There are people in my life who are the Biggest Fans for me.  And I cherish (and am relieved by) every welcoming, supportive, non-judgmental moment of their love.

I guess what I’m saying is: weighing it all in the balance, considering it ALL, why criticize the ones we love?  I’m not kidding.  For goodness’s sake—why?