It’s risky to accept conditions on love. Have you ever felt like your sweetheart will love you if you’re thin? Or if you’re rich? Or if you say yes instead of no?
Conditions on love try to slip in without being noticed. Unconditional love is the goal of your marriage, but you and your sweetheart are both flawed. As a result, you’ll put conditions on your love. Conditions like, “I’ll love you if…”
We all need love. Think about a time you felt truly loved and accepted. How did your body feel? Warm? Free? Open? Think about a time you felt unloved and rejected. How did your body feel then? Dark? Empty? Chained?
When we are deprived of love – from ourselves or others – we are willing to accept more conditions. The more worthy you feel, the fewer conditions you’ll accept or impose.
The purpose of this series is to carefully examine the fine print of the conditions you accept or impose. Examination leads to recognition. When you can recognize conditions, you’re able to question them, and maybe even let them go and love unconditionally. Unconditional love will deepen your connection, and you’ll feel safer in your marriage.
First, a clear understanding of conditions
A four-year-old knows what it’s like to want a lollipop. A four-year-old also knows how to ask clearly: “Please, please, please can I have the sucker?” And when they hear no, they ask again: “But I really want it!”
A parent can offer the treat without conditions and hand their four-year-old the lollipop. The parent gets joy when they see their child happy, and the child’s desire is satisfied. There are no conditions in this situation.
But sometimes a lollipop comes with a multitude of conditions: “Give me a hug first,” “You can have it after you eat your lima beans,” or implied conditions that the child can feel but can’t articulate: If I give you this lollipop, your job is to love me more than you love anyone else.
Suddenly the lollipop isn’t as tasty. The child wonders if the conditions are worth it.
These conditional pairings enter into our adult lives as well.
You’ve seen marriages built on conditions: I’ll give you the security of a house if you’ll build my ego and dote on me. Or I’ll make a nice dinner, but then I expect to get lucky in the bedroom. We are a little ashamed to ask for the trade out loud, so instead, we go covert ops and weave these unwritten rules into the fine print of our love contract.
Don’t take the bait. The deep oneness you long for is built on transparency and trust. This allows your integrity to remain intact. When you fall for the rules hidden in the fine print, you will feel as empty as an all-day sucker.
What conditions do you tend to put on your love?
What conditions are you accepting?
This week, it’s enough to notice ways that you might be offering or accepting conditional love. Don’t ask yourself to make any changes. Noticing is powerful. Let that be enough for now.
Want more on this topic? Next time we’ll get more specific about how to recognize the fine print of conditions on love. Sign up for my FREE COURSE below to receive all 4 installments of “Beware Conditions” (and be sure to check out my other essays on Improving Your Marriage Communication).
*If this exercise is right up your alley, I’d love to have you register for my free webinar about finding habits to foster your happily ever after.