Balancing Conditional and Unconditional Love

No matter how much you believe your love for your partner is unconditional, love is almost always conditional. Unconditional love is an ideal, rarely obtained by mortal beings.

Clearly love exists on a continuum between the unconditional and the conditional. Conditional love in the extreme is very unappealing: The person is not being loved for who he is; he's loved only if he fulfills the requirements set forth by his partner. In reality, total conditional love is not love at all; it's closer to slavery. Unconditional love is an ideal no one can achieve. However, there are aspects of unconditional love that are very appealing.

Perhaps the best statement defining a realistic version of unconditional love is, “I love you for who you are, and for who you are not.” It acknowledges that the one offering love has judgments and requirements that they're attempting to minimize, or go beyond. This is the beautiful quality of love that is acceptance. And perhaps that is the best we can ever achieve. Acceptance of who the other is recognizes that he has free will and his choices may not always be what his partner wishes — and yet, you love him.


A healthy marriage is one where both of you are better people as a result of the marriage.

Love offered with too many conditions places expectations upon others that can never be totally fulfilled. When you have expectations, you are setting yourself up for disappointment. Thus, the best form of love minimizes judgments, conditions, and expectations. Complete unconditional love is unattainable, but, as an ideal, it is useful if it encourages couples to work toward mutual acceptance. Not that there won't be expectations; everyone is human. You will simply own your own expectations and attempt to move beyond them.

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