At Our Least Lovely

Posted on October 19, 2020


“I’m not easy to live with, I know that it’s true.  You’re no picnic either, babe, that’s one of the things I loved about you.”  Don Henley (Not Enough Love in the World)

“When I’ve shown you that I just don’t care, when I’m throwing punches in the air, when I’m broken down and I can’t stand, would you be man enough to be my man?”  Sheryl Crow (Strong Enough)

Got a difficult partner, do you?  That is a tough one. 

Let me preface my singular point in this blog by saying that I would never suggest that anyone is obligated to be on the receiving end of abuse (and no one should be on the giving end of abuse either for that matter).  This is not about putting up with whatever your partner dishes out.  Further, I would not suggest that you should abandon your own needs for the sake of the relationship.  That is not healthy either, will get old, and you would eventually burn out from it.  It is also neither real love nor intimacy when your needs are not known.  With these caveats in mind, let us proceed. 

When we are in distress, few of us are very attractive mates.  My assertion is that “we all need love the most when we are at our least lovely.”  If your partner becomes angry, blaming, critical, or even just irritable, it would make sense that you would either defend, counterattack, or withdraw.  The problem is that that will not help get either of you what you want. 

We all need love the most when we are at our least lovely.

When your partner is in distress and being (shall we say?) unpleasant, there is an underlying need that isn’t getting expressed very effectively.  That need generally runs along the line of feeling loved, valued, secure, respected, cared for, safe, etc.  I know that’s not the message you got, but trust me, it was there. 

We all need love the most when we are at our least lovely.

When this is happening, love usually takes the form of grace (undeserved favor and acceptance), empathy, understanding, and compassion.  If you can get there when under fire, it can be transformative for the relationship.  The way you get there is by entering into your partner’s experience with genuine care and a desire to understand your mate’s distress. 

We all need love the most when we are at our least lovely.

To stay healthy, relationships also need a balance to them.  It is healthy for you to have your own boundaries and needs.  You will have a much better shot at expressing your needs and having your partner respond in love if your partner feels loved by you.  If you can show your partner love when they are at their least lovely, that is a great gift to offer your partner. 

We all need love the most when we are at our least lovely.

You did promise “for better or for worse.”  And you have your moments, too.  You are probably hoping for some grace and understanding in your worst moments, too.

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