Is Unconditional Love Practical in Marriage?
What does unconditional love mean? The dictionary defines it as love that is expressed without any limitations, conditions or expectations. When you love someone unconditionally, you don’t expect any payback or favors. You love them even when the feeling is not mutual. The best real life example of this kind of love is the love that exists between a parent and a child.
Unfortunately, the subject of unconditional love within a marriage is a tricky one. Some Christians, believe that they should love one another unconditionally, just like Christ loves them. This is true to an extent. After all, marriage vows do mention loving each other “for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health” till death do you part.
The trouble with this argument, however, is that marriage is not unconditional. When you married your spouse, you promised to love each other in the face of circumstances beyond your control. The expectation is that the two of you will do everything in your control to make your marriage work. This means that you cannot harm your spouse intentionally and expect him or her to reciprocate with unconditional, consequence-free love.
In fact, completely disregarding reality can be dangerous, especially in the face of serious relationship problems such as abuse in marriage. It can impede a couple’s ability to deal with problems in the marriage.
For these reasons, the love that couples experience in marriage is best described as boundless love and not unconditional. Boundless love does not depend on external circumstances, and therefore, it endures even when external circumstances are against. However, it does not disregard external circumstances.
The main difference between these two kinds of love is that boundless love acknowledges obstacles and strives to overcome them. It is based on the knowledge that your emotions towards your spouse may change depending on external circumstances but that doesn’t mean you don’t love him or her anymore.
You shouldn’t feel bad for having negative emotions such as anger towards your spouse. They are not an indication of how much you love your partner. They are just obstacles that you need to overcome on your way to a happy marriage. This is the meaning of love.
Genuine love doesn’t need to be blind or unconditional love. It doesn’t have to interfere with your ability to make rational decisions in the face of danger such as abuse. It also doesn’t mean that you have to suppress negative feelings.