Does your love come with conditions? Sounds like an odd question doesn’t it? Yet it is a serious question. Does your love come with conditions? Now you may hear people say I love my kids unconditionally yet is that really the truth? Do you show that love when he is caught sneaking out? How about I love my wife unconditionally? Do you really love your wife unconditionally? What about when she doesn’t want to have sex with you after a long difficult day?
Many times we do have conditional love. We show them, love, when certain things match our predetermined condition. If things don’t match up to what we expect then we act mad or grumpy and don’t show our loved ones the love we have for them. We hold back our love for the person we claim we love unconditionally.
Unconditional or Conditional Love?
First, let’s get the definition of these two words
Unconditional – not limited by conditions; absolute:
- imposing, containing, subject to, or depending on a condition or conditions; not absolute; made or allowed on certain terms: conditional acceptance.
- Grammar. (of a sentence, clause, mood, or word) involving or expressing a condition, as the first clause in the sentence If it rains, he won’t go.
- (of a proposition) asserting that the existence or occurrence of one thing or event depends on the existence or occurrence of another thing or event; hypothetical.
- (of a syllogism) containing at least one conditional proposition as a premise. – dictionary.com
Whew! That is a lot for the condition of love. Yet we humans love to make life way harder than it needs to be. We claim to “hate negative thought”. Yet by that very expression, you are expressing negative thought. Yeah, negatives may make a positive in Math but not in day to day life.
We often want our marriage to be this flow of romance and love filling the house we live in. Yet why is it often the case that people suddenly fall out of love? Marriages crumble and divorce seems like the only escape? The answer is that our spouse, kids, or even friends and other family members don’t rise up to our condition to be awarded our love. So whose fault is it that a family crumbles? If you are expecting people to meet your conditions to get your love then it is your fault.
Many times we have thoughts that people should act in a certain way. If Little Jimmy comes home with a D on his latest test. Do you love him, or do you yell and scream and threaten to take everything out of his room? If you carried out the trash and the wife doesn’t say anything do you love her still or do you sulk and give her one-syllable words as answers? If this is the case you have written a manual for a person and they are not following that manual
Now, what is a manual exactly? Well, it is how you think people should act. You are basically shoulding on people. Let me say, nobody likes to be should upon. Here is a good example.
Take a piece of paper at the top write Manual.
Now, write out how you think a wife should be. How should a wife behave in public, around the kids, around other family members? How is your wife supposed to behave in bed? Should she get frisky once a week or should she put out nightly? Get as detailed as you believe you need to be.
Now once you are done, look at that list. How many of those does she do? How many does she not do?
You will find that most people do not follow your manual. That is just fine. People have agency. They can do anything they want. It is your choice to love them.
Now you also have a choice, if you’re brave enough, you can take that list and hand it to your spouse or whoever you have written this manual for. Explain to them what it is and let them read it. The ball is then in their court. They can either choose to follow the manual or throw it out. What they do with it is completely up to them. What you do with their response is again completely up to you.
You can choose to be sore about it. Stomp around, act like a little boy who didn’t get his way, or you can recognize your spouse, kids, friends, or family member as an individual human being with their own mind, their own desires. You can choose to love them for being who they are.
You see you can have all the expectations you want in the world. That doesn’t mean anybody has to follow them. This is what you would like for people to do. Now there is nothing wrong with laying out an expectation but are you prepared to love them when they take that knowledge and do nothing with it?
You have to find a way to lead. Inspire your son to make you proud. Have him want to come to you when he knows he is in a tight spot and doesn’t know what to do. He won’t come to you if he sees you as an unstable nuclear warhead. He needs guidance and direction, not a lecture. This is something I wish I knew before my son graduated high school. It may have made our lives a lot easier.
Follow Fido’s lead
A great example of unconditional love is the family dog. No matter what the family dog is happy to see you. They celebrate your arrival home from work. They don’t mind the smells as they sit with you as you squat on the pot. Dogs love you and the connection they have with their pack. That is one reason young boys have such a strong bond with their dogs.
Boys and men want and crave that unconditional love that is given by our pooches. Ceaser Milan actually teaches people to be calm and assertive leaders. That means not blowing up just because junior had a creative spark with lipstick and your wall.
Think back say you had a waiter accidentally spill water in your lap. Have you had that happen? Did you blow up or did you just laugh it off? Maybe your fast food order was completely messed up. Did you use restraint and compassion, or did you yell scream, and berate the sales attendant?
Your son shows up from school afraid to tell you that he didn’t get straight “A”s on his report card. Yet we give an hour lecture on why he is failing. This is what happens when you don’t turn in your homework and make other statements of the such or maybe even worse.
Why do we show restraint for strangers but blow up and yell at those we are supposed to love? Makes you think, doesn’t it?
How do you give unconditional love?
That is a big question. How? I would actually ask do you love yourself? Sounds odd, doesn’t it? Yet the second greatest commandment is to love your neighbor as you would love yourself. So to be able to actually love others you have to know how to love yourself. This is because you are the only person who can feel the love you have for another person.
How does it feel to love a person? Are you ready to punch a hole in the wall when you are feeling love? For the normal person, the answer is no. Most sadly don’t give themselves the space to describe what they are feeling when they are feeling the emotion of love. The next time you notice that you feel Love, stop, and actually take note of what you are feeling.
Emotions are nothing more than a vibration you feel in your body. Therefore, take note of what places in your body you are feeling this emotion. Are you feeling light and airy? Maybe it is warm on your chest. Perhaps you have a static sensation across your shoulders. That happy peaceful feeling you have when you think of a person you love, remember it.
That feeling doesn’t feel like anger nor does it feel like anxiety. Love is its own specific feeling. You can call that feeling up when you are faced with your son handing you a failing report card or your wife has rejected your advances for the 4th time this month. You can choose to play the victim and walk around with your hurt feelings or you can choose to just love that person.
This will change the choices you perceive you have. You can listen to your son and come to understand why he has no interest in history. You can actually have the opportunity to connect with your wife and see what she is struggling through and what is causing her to distance herself from you.
There is no real need to get worked up over the vast majority of circumstances. Many times, as the saying goes cooler heads prevail. You can quickly change your reaction to a response by simply taking a few deep breaths. Breathing sets your body from reacting emotionally to responding analytically.
So if you feel your blood pressure rise. Take a deep breath, Acknowledge that nobody is dying, and start asking questions. Ask questions and wait for the other person to respond.
Let them know what your expectations are
Another way if you have some pretty hard set expectations then it does help to voice those expectations. Let them know why you need them to do whatever it is you need to be done. Express why it is important for you and what happens if it doesn’t happen.
Now that doesn’t mean to threaten them. Yet if you say you need them to pay the car payment each month before the 15th, then explain to them if it doesn’t happen then it may harm your credit score and eventually cause them to lose the car.
Again I will also say that if they don’t agree with that expectation that is OK you have to take up the slack or find a more efficient way to help them join the cause.
Ask yourself why does it matter
If a person in your life isn’t agreeing with an expectation then ask yourself, why does it matter? Is it just for pride or other selfish reasons, or is there a bigger reason why they are not able to reach what you are expecting?
Why is it important for your son to go to college? Is really for them, or is it so you can proudly say my son is a Lawyer? Understand why it is important. And double-check to make sure that you really aren’t lying to yourself because when pride comes in to play we can make up some doozies.
Build better Communication
The heart of whether you are coming into a relationship with true unconditional love is communication. I struggle with this. I have all sorts of stories I tell myself and oddly enough the vast majority of those stories are not true. I may believe that someone is mad at me and turns out they aren’t even thinking of me. You don’t know until you start actually talking to a person.
You have to have to actually do something that is very difficult to display unconditional love to other people. That task is to accept them for who they are. If they violate an expectation, go talk to them. Get their side of the story. Understand why they don’t have the same expectation as you. You just may find that their reasons are actually better than yours or you may just bring them to your side. But if not, you can always just love them.