“If you don’t even kiss me when you get home, then good luck getting anything more than that tonight.”
“Why shouldn’t I go out with the guys again? If I am home, all she does is complain.”
“How can I possibly respect you when you haven’t done anything respectful?”
Do any of these sound remotely familiar? Come on, be honest with yourself…it’s very likely every single one of us has said something similar at some point in our marriages. In fact, many of us use statements like this daily. What do all these statements have in common? They all include CONDITIONS. These are conditional statements. Because you did this, I will do this. If you don’t do this, I won’t do that. You aren’t this, so I am not that. Get the point?
One of the biggest problems in our early marriage was that we placed conditions on our love.
I will love you if you do x,y, or z. It’s as if we used a kiddie reward system with each other. Ok, Steve, if you take out the trash today, I won’t give you the stink eye! Isn’t that nice of me? Lisa, if you spend some “quality time” with me in the bedroom, I will actually listen to your crazy work stories. Isn’t that nice of me?
You guys, this kind of stuff is happening in our marriages EVERY DAY!
Conditional love is killing our marriages. We tend to set conditions on our love when we have yet to humble ourselves. (See Part Two of this series.) We are more concerned with ourselves than others, including our spouse.
Let’s see what Jesus says about this:
This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. John 15:12
“As I Have Loved You.” That’s the key, friends. How did Jesus love us? Well, he DIED for us. He made the ultimate sacrifice for us, even though we SO don’t deserve it. Now, that is what I call unconditional love.
The 3rd truth that leads to healing….
We need to stop placing demands on our spouse before we freely and sacrificially love them. Your love or respect for your spouse need not be dependent on whether or not they are loving or respecting you. Sit on that for a moment.
This truth was literally shocking for me when it was revealed to me. I was the queen of conditions! “IF you do this, THEN I will love you.” Our society feeds that beast, you know. Just one example….IF he went to Jared, THEN you know he’s worthy of your love. Right?!
Love is not meant to be conditional.
(HOWEVER, please know that this does not mean that you overlook or accept abusive behavior. If you are in an abusive relationship, that is a game changer. The rules are different in that situation. Contact your pastor or local Christian counselor for help!)
If love is not meant to be conditional, what is it then? Here is what love is:
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on it’s own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Resist the urge to skim over that verse. Most of you have probably heard it a million times. But just take a moment to read over it slowly. Stop at each point. Reflect on each statement and admit to yourself where you have not loved as God commands. He spells it out for us so clearly…let’s listen, truly listen, to his desire for the love in our lives.
May I challenge you to love unconditionally, friends? Your spouse may be in a really rough place right now. Can you ask God to help you love them even so? Your spouse may be halfway out the door. Can you seek God’s help in loving them unconditionally so that they will see you fighting for your marriage?
Conditional love paralyzed our marriage.
Neither one of us trusted that the other would stick with the marriage, because we both placed so many conditions on our marriage. I was especially guilty of this. And it hurt both of us deeply. After years of learning how to love as Jesus loves (and we are STILL learning), I now love Steve unconditionally…even if he hasn’t taken out the trash. 😉
3 Truths That Lead To Healing:
1. Stay in God’s Light. (1 John 1:7)
2. Humble Yourself. (Philippians 2:3)
3. Love Unconditionally. (John 15:12)
It is our deepest desire that all marriages be God-centered and thriving. We pray that for us all every day. May we all find God’s truth and His healing in our marriages and our lives.