“When They’re Most Unlovable . . . “

It’s when they’re most unlovable that they most need love.

When my children were small, my mother once said, “It’s when they’re most unlovable that they most need love.” This phrase was in my mind throughout my children’s childhood, adolescence, and even now as they prepare to launch their adult lives. When they were most challenging, difficult, and frustrating, I always reminded myself that those things grew out of their own challenges and frustrations; I always made an effort to be sure that they went away from our interaction knowing that I loved them (even when they went away with words of correction or consequences).

Does a spouse deserve any less?

For years, when my husband would do anything that I perceived as unlovable—yelling about something, not doing a household task, even saying something I thought he should know was upsetting to me—I would respond by pulling my love further away. When he was most unlovable, he most needed love; instead, I used his behavior as justification for my refusing. Shame on me.

Yesterday, I was tempted and did something I had promised my husband and myself I would not do. I was miserable and disappointed in myself. When he came home from work, I confessed and was in tears. He forgave me and told me to stop beating myself up. Although I know he loves me, I experienced a need to be physically intimate with him—not a physical need for sex, but an emotional need. I needed to have him inside me in the most intimate way possible to help my heart remember and believe that I am worthy, I am loved, and I am lovable.

It struck me just how wrong I was all those years. I really had thought that sex was just physical for my husband, that all he wanted was an orgasm (and he certainly could have taken care of that by himself, I always thought). Yesterday I realized how much of his need had been emotional. When I deprived him of sex, I deprived him of feeling worthy, loved, and lovable.

My husband certainly deserved as much compassion and understanding as our children did. It was at the times I felt most justified in denying him that I was most wrong in doing so.

It’s when they’re most unlovable that they most need love.

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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11 Comments on ““When They’re Most Unlovable . . . “”

  1. So true! This past weekend, my hubby was very unloveable in that he was mean, sarcastic, withdrawn, and indulged in some online videos he should not have watched. My heart was hurt, but you know what? So was his. I remained loving and steadfast while not accepting his behavior. I prayed like crazy. By Monday, he was his old self again and we were intimate in an amazing way. Hearts healed. Praise God!

  2. What a great testimony. Our lives are in the midst of an incredibly busy season right now and it is sometimes odd how we find ourselves craving certain types of touch and affection that are out of the “norm” for us. I am truly finding that defining how something “always” works or “never” works robs me of living life more fully.


    1. Busy seasons of life certainly show us the value of thinking in terms of “what works best now” rather than “always” or “never.” The blessing is that once this season has passed, you will come away with a richer repertoire of touch that matters. Blessings to you as you weather this season.

  3. This line struck me in particular: “I needed to have him inside me in the most intimate way possible to help my heart remember and believe that I am worthy, I am loved, and I am lovable.” I’ve often looked at the verse in 2 Samuel–“Then David comforted his wife Bathsheba, and he went to her and made love to her”–and thought how that could be comforting. Knowing that your husband desires you and is one-flesh with you can be restorative to the soul. Thanks for sharing this!

      1. There is another passage that I discovered this year that seems to say the same thing. It’s in that whole long list of “begats” in the first nine chapters of Chronicles:

        “And Ephraim their father mourned many days, and his brothers came to comfort him. And Ephraim went in to his wife, and she conceived and bore a son.” 1 Chron. 7:22-23a

        This man had sons that were killed in battle, and he grieved for them, and sought solace with his wife. At least, that what it seems like to me.

  4. Is oral sex within a marriage a sin? Is masturbation? Opinions? We are doign the Regier counseling and this came up last night…some scripture seems to say whatever both partners mutually agree to in marriage is ‘OK’ but this said oral sex (fellatio) was a homosexually based behavior, the mouth was not designed for this by God and so it is a sin, and also masturbation was also a sin?

    1. My believe is that neither oral sex nor masturbation is a sin. My reading of Song of Solomon shows several instances of oral sex. Masturbation that does not involve pornography or fantasizing about someone other than your spouse is not sinful in my view, either.

      If we ruled out anything that occurs in homosexual activity, we would also need to rule out kissing and hugging. I don’t know how anyone could determine that something is “homosexually based.”

      That said, it may be that avoiding certain sexual activities for a time is useful in recovering and healing. For instance, if masturbation has always been done with pornography involved, it may be important to refrain from the activity while the brain resets itself to respond to only stimulation from one’s spouse.

      If you are working through a counseling program, it may be best to follow its guidelines during the healing and recovery process with the understanding that certain issues can be revisited later on.

      The Marriage Bed has a wonderful article on what’s okay and not okay, as well as one on masturbation. I will link them here later today.

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