Love ain’t always pretty but it sure as heck never looks ugly.

Love is kind of like your spouse in that way—not always looking their best, but never looking like they took a truck to the face.

OK, that was a bad mental picture, quite crude, and a bit overkill, but I make such a comparison to reinforce my point—that love won’t always look lovely, but that it is inherently incapable of being truly revolting.

Thank goodness for this.

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We all know that love looks, feels, and sounds different for everyone and that apparently each of us has a “love language” through which we express and experience love. While I would contend that there are more than five languages, chances are pretty good that you and your friends, your significant other, your children, and other members of your family will not “speak” the same language.

Now picture this: you see two people each speaking a different language; neither understands the other, and although they are trying to communicate effectively, they seemingly are not succeeding. As a bystander, this can be hard to watch, so imagine how laborious it must be to be one of the parties involved. Not only will this interaction look awkward, uncomfortable, unnatural, and possibly even unsightly, it more than likely feels this way for two communicators as well.

Love is just like this, but not just any love—real love.

Real love is the kind of love that isn’t always “on point”.

Real love isn’t back-to-back, knock-it-out-of-the-park moments.

Conversely, real love, at times (and more often than not), is complex, chaotic, and uninviting.

In turn, being and experiencing real love with your spouse or children can leave you feeling perplexed, disordered, embarrassed, and disheartened.

But, you shouldn’t feel this way even though most of us still do.

Why?

Because we naively and wrongly adhere to the idea that the “best” kind of love and the “right” kind of love—that for our husband and our children—should never look unbecoming.

My relationship can never look unattractive from the outside. 

I must always present myself as an incredibly loving and doting wife and mother.

I cannot let strangers see the real me hidden under my well-manicured nails, professionally-styled hair, and a pound of makeup that took me two hours to complete while I ignored my children.

I can’t let them see me looking unpretty.

I can’t let them hear me speak ugly words.

I can’t let them know I think appalling things about myself or others at times.

Or, can I?

What is more beautiful than a woman being her imperfectly authentic self?

What is more praiseworthy than a woman and a man who are flawed, individually and as a couple, but who are willing to grow and improve alongside one another?

What is more admirable than a parent who is making tons of appropriate mistakes, but who keeps doling out love and putting in the effort required to raise intelligent, respectful, and compassionate kids?

What is more alluring than a woman whose genuine and unique inner beauty matches her outer beauty?

What is more honest than a person who merely feels a lot and doesn’t fret over trying to conceal every one of their negative emotions?

What is more sincere than a human being who values themselves and feels confident in their worth?

Whether it is self-love, romantic love, or the unconditional and indescribable love that we have for our children, it will not always look pretty.

Most of the time it will look fragmented, worn, battered, and just plain messy. It will look like that because real love is a shiitake-show; kind of like life—a hodgepodge of events and instances, some good and some bad, that all prompt growth and learning.

If love ain’t pretty, I don’t want to be either.

I want to be what love is.

I want to be perfectly, imperfectly messy.

Originally published on the author’s blog

Nicole Merritt

Nicole Merritt is a mother of three and the Owner and Founder of jthreeNMe, an imperfectly authentic peek at real-life marriage, parenting, and self-improvement. jthreeNMe is raw, honest, empowering, inspiring, and entertaining; it’s like chicken soup for those that are exhausted, over-stressed and under-inebriated, yet still utterly happy. Nicole's work has been featured by Scary Mommy, The Good Men Project, BLUNTmoms, Thought Catalog, Everyday Family, Motherly & many others. You can follow Nicole at jthreeNMe and on FacebookPinterestInstagram & Twitter!