The more intimate the family relationship, the greater the expectation to serve in acts of love.
When a woman marries, her partner expects her love to be romantic. He wants her to be his confidante, his best friend, and to keep her vulnerable side for him.
If she doesn’t express her love to him in this way, chances are he’ll start to see her love as not being unconditional anymore.
But must marital love be unconditional?
Marriage is work. The key to lasting love in marriage is learning to accept each other’s flaws. Marriage is often the place where hidden emotional baggage is unpacked between partners. If there isn’t something resembling unconditional love between them, can they create a truly safe space to heal and grow?
When a person becomes a parent, their whole idea of what it means to show love changes.
Becoming a mom or dad can help a parent discover an emotional depth they never knew existed. Parenting a child proves that unconditional love isn’t just possible, it’s magic.
How come a couple’s choice to start a family together doesn’t trump the concept of conditional love?
It’s hard to believe that when a relationship fails it’s because one or both partners were unable to love each other well, especially when both partners have the ability to be such fantastic parents.
There are similarities in the love of a spouse and the love shared between parent and child. But the sparks are what drive the intimate love between husband and wife. Loving a child is an emotion – no matter how difficult things get – that comes naturally to most parents.
Ask any mother or father who holds their baby to define the eternity of parental love.
The love that a parent has for a child cannot be described other than unconditionally. Even in sad situations, when the relationship bond is fragmented due to substance abuse or family dysfunction, the bond remains at the heart of both parent and child.
If a person has the ability to love a child unconditionally, and perhaps even show unconditional love for themselves, then they are clearly capable of loving unconditionally. So what happens when the love between two happy and healthy partners ends?
We asked our YT experts to help us understand if unconditional love is just for kids or if one of the reasons marriages fail is because there isn’t enough unconditional love.
Here are 2 reasons they provided that helped us understand this really complicated question:
1. Adult love is a test of character. — as it should be.
“We may be programmed to love our children unconditionally, but not our partners. Setting Buddha or Christ standards for ourselves risks fueling the “I must be perfect” story, behind which lies this cesspool of self-hatred.
Better to revel in your humanity, practice self-acceptance, and learn to clean up with your partner when you — or they — step in.
Russell Heath is an adventurer, author and leadership coach who gets people out of their ruts and into action. Follow his blog at YourTango.com or find it on its website.
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2. Learning to love teaches acceptance.
“Unconditional love is a concept that involves perfection. It’s great for kids to believe in idealistic concepts like this until they’re able to handle the complexities of adult life.
For us, that means that at some point, we have to grow up and accept that the flawed, messy, imperfect version of love we deal with is completely okay.
It’s time to ignore the guilt and allow ourselves to be flawed (and still perfectly lovable).
Mia Von Scha is a transformational parenting coach who believes in without guilt parenthood. For help in present-moment mindful parenting, contact Mia or join her mailing list.
Sometimes it takes an expert, like Mia or Russell, to explain a concept that we already partially understand in our guts. It makes sense, hearing more about it, why unconditional love and romantic love aren’t just the same — they just don’t go together.
For more advice from amazing people in the helping professions, check out our experts. They are there to help!