Do I love my husband unconditionally? HECK NO! But here’s the interesting thing. My husband is an amazing man. He is loving, kind, thoughtful, a great lover, brilliant at what he does, and makes good money. He is a therapist and teaches ReSpeak, helping couples to stop fighting and start loving each other.
So why don’t I love him unconditionally? Because, in our relationship, he has to honor our agreements and continue to treat me well—and me him—in order for our love to continue.
Yes, we absolutely have conditions in our relating. We believe that unconditional love in romantic relationships is a myth. So don’t feel bad if you haven’t reached that lofty ideal.
Unconditional love—unrealistic, manipulative, and emotionally suppressive?
We commonly work with couples who treat each other terribly, argue too much of the time, disregard and disrespect each other with the words they use and yet they still claim they love each other.
To me, love is a verb and therefore an action. To love means to be loving. So how you behave and how treat each other does matter when you’re talking about real love.
I share this excerpt of my husbands article, “3 Degrees of Consciousness” . . .
“Yes, the belief that ’love is unconditional‘ comes from my need to believe you love me even when you treat me like you don’t. And unconditional love is a self-justification people use when they say things like, ’If you loved me unconditionally you would accept my . . .’—followed by some inappropriate or immature behavior like—‘ . . . dishonesty, neglect, temper tantrum, infidelity.”
This kind of love is manipulative and emotionally suppressive.
“Love is unconditional when I learn to access love as a state of being— independent of anyone. I can access love when I see the sunrise, feel clean sheets on the bed, hear my favorite song, wake up feeling refreshed, go boogie boarding in the ocean and in many other moments. Love is a chemical cocktail that I can mix and drink anytime I choose to—alone or with other people.”
Back To Relationships
No one is perfect, but being present, kind, and loving is a condition in our marriage, so that’s mostly how things are in our household. If my husband were a cheater or liar or abuser, I would not love him. If he were to treat me poorly I would no longer love him—remember love is a verb. For me, thinking I have to love someone who treats me poorly is not real love nor is it healthy love.
In my last blog I proposed that if you’re currently in a relationship in which you cannot treat each other kindly, regardless of good intentions, and regardless of how hard you’ve tried to change things, I strongly encourage you to question why you stay and if you should.
I received feedback about how my previous article only supported the “jump ship and run” type of modern day relating. But my take on that is that the “jump ship” thing is a product of jumping into relationships too quickly in the first place. And the “stick thru it all” thing was often a product of fearing the unknown, or cultural rules that held people back from leaving, or living on autopilot, being numb and unaware that relationships could be easy.
Stop Settling For Less
Should we stick it out with a husband or wife or partner who treats us poorly, refuses to get help and is perhaps selfish, narcissistic, and controlling—and justify sticking it out by saying we love them unconditionally?
What if we stopped settling for less than real love? What if we created conditions that a partner must meet before we get involved, or even after years of difficult relating, in order to increase our chances of having a long lasting, healthy relationship.
It is possible to have a peaceful, loving partnership—one that we nurture ourselves with. Home should be a sanctuary of kindness and respect, a haven from an otherwise sometimes harsh world.
Come to a Reology Retreat to get this idea into your bones. Learn how to relate and speak to each other in kinder, clearer, less victimizing ways. Bring your partner to a retreat or come alone.
You’ll learn to insist that you’re treated respectfully and kindly and to treat others that way. And then, with these “conditions,” you’ll begin to experience real love—not mythical “unconditional” love.