At a workshop recently, we were asked to think about where we were in our current relationship. We had to think of what it was about that relationship that made us think it was ideal. It was a very pertinent question and really got me thinking.
A number of men in the group thought of their cars, tool, families, workmates, old friends, even relationships with objects such as their television remote, recliner chair, or favorite pair of shoes. To each of these men, these things felt comfortable, and simple. The relationships they had with these people or objects was rewarding and easy to maintain.
A number of women considered kitchen appliances, favorite clothes or shoes, old friends, neighbours, and treasured items in their lives. The bond that they had created, either between people or with items they used in their lives, were described as reliable, dependable, and comforting.
When my turn came to identify my ideal relationship, I thought of my dog. A dog has very simple needs, requiring only food, shelter, and love. Regardless of how my day has been or my mood, when I get home at night, I’m greeted in such an authentic, transparent, and enthusiastic way.
It’s very humbling when I see how excited my dog is to see me. I don’t know of any others that greet me so enthusiastically night after night. No matter how long I have been away from the house or how my day has been. His needs are few, yet he gives so much. I call this unconditional love.
So what is unconditional love?
Unconditional love is the type of love that comes without conditions. It is the sort of love that you have for your partner when the romantic, Hollywood-style love has dwindled. It’s when you make the transition to “real” love. Real love is the love you have for your partner, despite the fact that they’re not perfect. It’s because of those imperfections that you love your spouse, rather than in spite of them.
This is unconditional love.
The same thing applies to you. You acknowledge that you too are not perfect and have your own faults. You know you make mistakes sometimes, but that’s okay. Self-acceptance and unconditional love will let you overcome the faults and imperfections that people have.
So what do you get from this then? Should we all go out and get dogs to teach us something about unconditional love? Maybe there is a lesson to be learnt here. We all clutter our lives with thoughts and emotions, trials and tribulations. Then there is the temptation to let our issues become bigger than they really are and rule our lives.
If you are serious about saving your marriage, the key is in finding ways to place the emotional clutter to one side and let your unconditional love come through. Having faults and making mistakes is normal. It’s okay to have thoughts and feelings. Above all of this, is the love you have for your spouse and one another. Love will conquer them all.
It’s quite feasible not to like your spouse at the moment or what they are doing and still love them. It’s also possible not to like where your life or your marriage is at the moment, but still love your spouse. The love you have for your spouse and your marriage can remain constant.
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