John Steinbeck in 1958, discussing matters of love in a letter to his son:
There are several kinds of love. One is a selfish, mean, grasping, egotistical thing which uses love for self-importance. This is the ugly and crippling kind. The other is an outpouring of everything good in you—of kindness and consideration and respect—not only the social respect of manners but the greater respect which is recognition of another person as unique and valuable. The first kind can make you sick and small and weak but the second can release in you strength, and courage and goodness and even wisdom you didn’t know you had.
Ann Patchett in 2011, describing a conversation she once had at an artists’ colony:
Standing waist deep in the swimming pool at Yaddo, I received a gift—it was the first decent piece of instruction about marriage I had ever been given in my twenty-five years of life. “Does your husband make you a better person?” Edra asked.
There I was in that sky-blue pool beneath a bright blue sky, my fingers breaking apart the light on the water, and I had no idea what she was talking about.
“Are you smarter, kinder, more generous, more compassionate, a better writer?” she said, running down her list. “Does he make you better?”
“That’s not the question,” I said. “It’s so much more complicated than that.”
“It’s not more complicated than that,” she said. “That’s all there is: Does he make you better and do you make him better?”