Your enemy is my enemy

When I wrote about competition a couple of days ago, I was really writing about human relationships, particularly those among family and friends because competition is unhealthy in the context of friendship and intimate relationships– except as modified by Virginia Satir (if you haven’t already, see Competition).

But today, in thinking about close relationships I want to talk about loyalty. Loyalty is one of the most important elements of a relationship. Loyalty means that a friend or loved one will choose to support and defend their loved one no matter what. It means that we can always count on that other person to be there for us and stand up for us. It means that if we have been hurt or wronged, that other person will understand and feel the hurt and want to help us.

Early in our marriage, my husband, a loving and kind person, made sure that any time I felt hurt or slighted, I would know that the other person really was kind and good and that I was too sensitive. I found that hurtful– more hurtful than what the stranger had done to me. I wanted him to tell me that it wasn’t right that this person was insensitive or unkind to me. I didn’t want to hear why the other person was right and I was overly sensitive. To me, that was treason. His job as my husband and my best friend was to hear me and feel my pain and to take my side. I wasn’t asking him to retaliate. I wasn’t asking him to talk to the other person. I just wanted to be understood.

Fortunately, he’s gotten a lot better (though not 100%), but it is something I taught my children as well. The world can be a cruel and unkind place. There are people who unknowingly and knowingly hurt others. The people we rely on and love need to be with us. They don’t need to be our moral compass that informs us that no one really wants to do wrong or that the other person was busy/sick/preoccupied/annoyed etc. etc. We don’t want to hear excuses for why the other person was right and we were wrong. What we want to hear is, “No one has the right to hurt you like that; I love you; you are a good and worthwhile person.”

That’s loyalty. And that’s what we need to do as family members or close friends.

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  1. Oh thank you so much for writing this! I’m going to grab a quiet moment one day and read it out to my hubbie … maybe he will understand me a bit better.


  2. Hope so. So many people just don’t get it.

  3. You sure got this one right. Maybe this is one of those things that is universal among individuals who were not taught how to be loyal and supportive when they were children – they just don’t know the words to say.