Love? It Really Is a Battlefield!

Published by Daleen Berry on

Pat Benatar, or her songwriter, really got it right. It is a war out there, and people in love are on the front lines. Like wounded soldiers, thousands fall every day, bloody and bruised. Unable to get back up.

People in relationships where love is alive take bullets for their loved ones all the time. Or try to dodge the verbal missiles of their beloved. It happens in every type of relationship, be it husband and wife, mother and daughter, or brother and sister.

Love is the most powerful emotion there is. After all, love can lead to a wide-ranging array of other feelings: passion (or compassion), empathy, and loyalty. Conversely, it may also give rise to jealousy, mistrust, and anger. Even hate. It really depends on how the beloved one treats someone else’s love. How much it matters to them. Or how deeply they feel love in return.

Love has always been a battlefield, but it’s still alive.

When love withers, it’s usually not because it died a natural death. It’s because two people stopped trying. Loving someone is hard work. Sometimes, excruciatingly so. It doesn’t matter if you’re best friends, siblings, lovers, or spouses. Which is why, if you love someone, you might want to think of that relationship as a job. Not a chore you grudgingly perform, like cleaning the toilet or taking out the trash. Not a debt you owe that you can’t ever seem to find the cash to repay. But as a job you love and would willingly do without receiving a cent in return. Your dream job, if you will.

In these days of instant gratification and electronic umbilical cords, we’re more disconnected than ever. We’re growing farther apart, so working on a relationship is getting harder. It takes more time and energy, rather than less. And this as our lives are becoming more chaotic, so much so that all we really want to do when we have a few free minutes is crash in front of the computer or the TV, or maybe just fall, exhausted, onto our bed.

Don’t do it! Don’t give in to that deceptive desire. That’s how love becomes a battlefield, with shrapnel flying every which way. If you’re going to do battle, then fight to keep love alive.

Because we–none of us–can do without love. Without it, we die. For with love comes touch. Without love, we don’t have skin-to-skin contact, whether that means a pat on the back, a hearty, two-armed hug, or an assorted variety of kisses or caresses. Sadly, without human touch, we lose part of our humanity. That’s when we begin to shrivel up and die, or slowly lose touch with what is good and right in the world. Or fail to make sound decisions. Or perhaps, if we’re deprived of love and human touch from childhood, we never gain the ability to even learn how.

It’s not getting any easier, but it is becoming tremendously important to show and feel love these days. To stay in love, if you already are. To reach out and seek love, if it’s missing in your life. To tell your mother or father or sister or brother or significant other that they are loved. That you love them. No matter what firearm has come your way. Tried to kill this life-sustaining emotion.

One word is all that’s needed, when it comes to love being a battlefield.


Because, as Max Muller said, “A flower cannot blossom without sunshine, and a man cannot live without love.”

Editor’s note: Berry and another West Virginia author, Geoff Fuller (Full Bone Moon), have recently teamed up to write the authorized version of the Skylar Neese murder. Berry’s TEDx talk, given April 13 at Connecticut College, is now live. Berry is the first recipient of the Pearl Buck Award in Writing for Social Change. She speaks about overcoming abuse through awareness, empowerment and goal attainment at conferences around the country. Her memoir (paperback and as an e-book) can be found at bookstores everywhere, or ordered online. To read an excerpt, please go to the Sister of Silence site. Check out the five-star review from ForeWord Reviews. Or find out why Kirkus Reviews called Berry “an engaging writer, her style fluid and easy to read, with welcome touches of humor and sustained tension throughout.”

Daleen Berry

Daleen Berry (1963- ) is a New York Times best-selling author and TEDx speaker who was born in sunny San Jose, California, but who grew up climbing trees and mountains in rural West Virginia. When she isn't writing, she's reading. Daleen is also an award-winning journalist and columnist, and has written for such publications as The Daily Beast, Huffington Post, and XOJane. Daleen has written or co-written eight nonfiction books, including her memoir, "Sister of Silence," "The Savage Murder of Skylar Neese," "Pretty Little Killers," "Cheatin' Ain't Easy," "Tales of the Vintage Berry Wine Gang," "Shatter the Silence," and "Appalachian Murders & Mysteries," an anthology. In 2015, West Virginia University placed "Sister of Silence" and "Guilt by Matrimony" on its Appalachian Literature list. You can follow her blog here: Or find her on Facebook and Twitter, as well as email her at daleen(dot)berry(at)gmail(dot)com. She loves to hear from readers.


Anon Y. Mous · August 11, 2013 at 12:20 PM

I think I may have been surrendering for the sake of love for far too long, and it’s breaking up my family.

My wife of 14 years has a strong personality to say the least. Overpowering, in fact. To the point where I might make supper for our child and, without taking a bite, will demand something else. I try to stand my ground and let him know that he can have the other thing once he has finished what I made him. He tells mommy. She comes downstairs from her busy life of watching cable shows on her iPad in bed and will say, “Okay, I’ll make .” Then she might turn to me and say, “Well?! Aren’t you going to make it?! Do I have to everything around here?!”

In recent years, a power struggle has ongoing between my 9 y/o son and I. He has absolutely no respect for my authority and will only mock me when I tell him to do something. Of course, mommy will always take his side. At other times, say when I’m trying to sit and eat my supper in peace, he might pounce on top of me and even start hitting me. He has some developmental issues. I probably don’t even need to say, but when I tell him to stop, he won’t. In fact, it sometimes makes his attack even worse. The only effective way I have found to stop the attack is to squeeze his hand or pinch the hairs in back of his head. Naturally, he tells mommy, and I get into trouble. Another thing he does is exaggerate his feelings. Upon the slightest nudge to direct him somewhere and he might throw himself onto the ground and yell, “You pushed me!” Upon asking him to turn off the computer, or put his dishes in the sink, or go tack a shower, the usual response might be, “You hate me! Why don’t I just kill myself to make you happy?!”

About a month ago, he had told his therapist the daddy was hurting him and it made him feel like killing himself. Of course, she called CPS. CPS informed the local police, who then interviewed my son. During the interview, my wife turned to me and said, “If you did anything to him, you’re out of here!” The officer determined that his being hurt was in response to his own attacks and, though it may not have been the best way to handle the situation, couldn’t find any cause to report child abuse. My wife demanded that I leave anyway.

I love her and our children, and I can’t imagine this situation is good for anybody. I know for a fact my son completely blames himself. My wife says I can come back once I’ve learned how to interact with my son appropriately. Honestly, I don’t see her ever coming to he conclusion that I’m good enough to return. I truly think the issue is more about her maintaining control, and not about our children’s safety. After all, she has absolutely no issue leaving our children with her mother who used to beat the cr*p out of her with a wooden spoon when she was little.

I don’t know if love is strong enough to fix this, and I do believe surrendering for the sake of love has caused more harm than good.

Any suggestions?

    Daleen Berry · September 17, 2013 at 6:36 PM

    I would find a good therapist for yourself and one for your children, if you can convince them to go. Or if you have any say in the matter and can take them yourself. Your wife sounds troubled and needs therapy, too. I hope she will get it because without it, this situation is only going to get worse.

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