Demonstrating unconditional love to our children is a natural of overflow of the love we have for them. They can irritate, frustrate and even manipulate us, but nothing can make us love them less. How, then, can we show this same no strings attached love to our spouse?
Some may disagree, but the difference to me is this: love for my children comes naturally, but loving my husband unconditionally is learned.
Conditional Love Looks Like
- I will only love you if…
- I can’t forgive you if you….
- My wedding vows for better or worse, richer or poorer, didn’t mean THIS….
Unconditional Love Looks Like
- I will love you even if….
- I will love you and will stay in this marriage even in this difficult time…
- I may not like you at this moment, but my commitment to love you is solid…
Learning to love your spouse unconditionally is not easy Dr. Gary and Barbara Rosberg remind us.
Giving your spouse the security of your unwavering love requires grace, patience, affirmation of the good things, encouragement, respect and time. Even when you don’t feel like showing love, do it anyway. You need it, your spouse needs it and your marriage needs it.
Rick Renner describes agape love as God’s high-level love. God wants us to learn to function in this love, which is why the Holy Spirit so carefully inspired the apostle Paul to write these famous words in First Corinthians 13:4-8.
God’s Mirror Reveals
This passage of Scripture is God’s mirror, designed for us to look into so we can see how well we fare at walking in the agape love of God. As you read below, allow God’s mirror to reflect how well you are loving your spouse:
Love is large and incredibly patient. Love is gentle and consistently kind to all. It refuses to be jealous when blessing comes to someone else. Love does not brag about one’s achievements nor inflate its own importance. 5Love does not traffic in shame and disrespect, nor selfishly seek its own honor. Love is not easily irritated[h] or quick to take offense.6 Love joyfully celebrates honesty and finds no delight in what is wrong.7 Love is a safe place of shelter, for it never stops believing the best for others. Love never takes failure as defeat, for it never gives up.8 Love never stops loving.
Much like the wrinkles I see reflected in my bathroom mirror, I don’t much like what God’s mirror reveals here. Lord, how do I learn to love my spouse with high-level agape love?
Marriage is about growth and change. Over the years, we have learned ways of communicating unconditional love.
How to Love Unconditionally
1. Communicate like a grown-up.
Temper tantrums and yelling aren’t acceptable at your work setting, in the marketplace or in public. And as every parent of a preschooler knows, nothing good comes out of such behavior.
Click here to learn ways to communicate maturely.
Discover the value of constructive criticism
When one of us is displeased, disappointed or hurt by the other, we say so. A simple way is to say “The comment (or action) was hurtful. It made me feel _____.”
Avoiding “YOU” messages takes the pressure off your spouse and places the responsibility for how you feel totally onto yourself.
The spouse being confronted may respond, “I am sorry I made you feel that way. How could I have handled that differently?”
In clear, mature communication, each spouse takes responsibility for their own response and reaction.
Practice mutual acts of selflessness.
However, each man among you [without exception] is to love his wife as his very own self [with behavior worthy of respect and esteem, always seeking the best for her with an attitude of lovingkindness], and the wife [must see to it] that she respects and delights in her husband [that she notices him and prefers him and treats him with loving concern, treasuring him, honoring him, and holding him dear] ~ Ephesians 5:33
Do you notice the mutuality involved in this passage? And, in a way, there are conditions here. Husbands are exhorted to seek the best for his wife, and the wife reciprocates.
If a husband and wife attempt to live out this scripture, what kind of impact will it have on a marriage?
Love with no strings attached.
Those times one of our kids offend or hurt us, how do we respond? A healthy response is to calmly tell the child how hurtful that action/word was. In the best case scenario, the child would say “I’m sorry.” And, of course, it is always important to reply “I forgive you.”
Let’s love our spouse like that.
Need help with forgiveness? Click here.
In what ways will you learn to love your spouse unconditionally?