The more intimate the familial relationship, the greater the expectation to serve in acts of love. When a woman gets married, her partner expects her love to be romantic. He wants her to be his confidant and best friend and to reserve her vulnerable side for him. If she doesn’t express love to him in this way, there’s a good chance that he will start to see something that’s not unconditional love.
But should marital love ever be unconditional?
Marriage is work. The key to lasting love in marriage lies in learning how to accept each other’s flaws. Marriage is often the place where hidden emotional baggage gets unpacked between partners. If there isn’t something akin to unconditional love between them, can they create a truly safe space to heal and grow?
When a person becomes a parent, their entire concept 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 only possible, it’s magical.
How is it that a couple’s choice to start a family together doesn’t override the concept of conditional love?
It’s hard to believe that when a relationship fails, it’s because one or both partners are incapable of loving well — especially when both partners can be such fantastic parents.
There are similarities in the love of a spouse and the love shared between parent and child. But sparks are what drive intimate love between a husband and wife. Loving a child is an emotion — no matter how hard things get — that just comes naturally for most parents.
Ask any mother or father who holds their baby to define the eternalness of parental love.
The love a parent feels for a child can’t be described in any other way than unconditional. Even in sad situations, when the relationship bond is fragmented because of drug abuse or family dysfunction, the bond remains at the heart of both parent and child.
If a person has the capacity to love a child unconditionally and maybe even show unconditional love for themselves, then they are clearly capable of unconditional love. So, what happens when love between two otherwise healthy, happy partners ends?
We asked our YT Experts to help us understand whether unconditional love is only for kids or if marriages fail because there’s not enough unconditional love.
Here are two reasons they provided that helped us understand this truly complicated question:
1. Grown-up love is a character test — as it should be.
“We may be hard-wired to love our kids unconditionally — but not our partners. Setting Buddha- or Christ-like standards for ourselves risks feeding the ‘I’ve got to be perfect’ story, behind which lurks that cesspit of self-hate.
Better to revel in your humanness, practice self-acceptance, and learn how to clean up with your partner when you— or they— step in it.”
2. Learning to love teaches acceptance.
“Unconditional love is a concept that implies perfection. It’s great for kids to believe in idealistic concepts like this until they are able to handle the complexities of adult life.
For us, it means that at some point, we must grow up and accept that the imperfect, messy, flawed version of love that we’re managing is quite ok.
Time to shrug off the guilt and allow ourselves to be imperfect (and still perfectly lovable).”
Sometimes it takes an Expert, like Mia or Russell, to explain a concept we partially understand in our gut. But, it makes sense, upon hearing more about it, why unconditional love and romantic love are not only not the same — they simply do not belong together.