“Once you learn to accept and love them for who they are, you subconsciously learn to love yourself unconditionally.” Yvonne Pierre
Loving unconditionally is the hardest work we will ever do in our closest relationships.
Unconditional love is easier with children; after all, children are easy to love…(at least until they’re teenagers)
But the act of loving our spouses often comes with conditions…lots of them. It often looks like the quid-pro-quo version of:
When you are loving towards me, I will be loving towards you. And when you’re not showing me love (in the way that I want to receive love), I will withhold my love from you.
It’s hard to be loving towards someone who isn’t necessarily being loving towards you. Isn’t it?
But here’s a nuance about unconditional love that I don’t want you to miss (or misinterpret):
- Loving someone unconditionally DOES NOT mean overlooking bad behavior.
- It DOES NOT mean having no boundaries in your life.
- Loving someone unconditionally DOES NOT mean lying to or betraying yourself in order to keep the family together.
It means seeing them as they are…
What they’re both willing and capable of giving or being in the marriage…
And telling yourself the truth about whether or not that works for you.
You can love someone even if they’re not loving to you.
You can love because it is our true nature to love.
You can love because you care about how you feel and loving always feels better than hating.
But that DOES NOT mean you have to remain in relationship with them.
It does not mean you have to remain married to them.
It does not mean you should share the most intimate and vulnerable parts of your heart with them.
Every adult gets to do whatever they want to do.
But every adult also gets to live with the consequences of their choices and actions.
When someone – even your spouse – isn’t treating you with love and kindness, you can see them as the (hurting) person they are. You can love them without conditions. But “love” does not mean remaining in relationship with them.
Unconditional love is easy to say…it’s incredibly difficult to live.
We’re not taught how to do that.
Sometimes, you have to love people from a distance.
And sometimes that distance is further than they would like…
But to practice unconditional love, it has to begin within ourselves.