When you enter an intimate relationship, you’ve likely got your, “Oh, my gosh, this person is amazing” glasses on. All you can see is how wonderful they are. As you get to know each other, those love chemicals are surging nicely. You think about each other all the time and spend as much time together as you can.
Falling in love is wonderful, right?
But what happens years down the road?
What about the falling out of love path that shows up five, seven, ten, fifteen years down the road?
For many people, those “you are amazing” glasses fall off. You can’t deny this with the divorce rate hovering around 50 percent.
You may not be at the “let’s call it quits” point, but you may not be feeling all those love chemicals that much anymore. Whereas you used to think your partner was flawless, today you may notice all sorts of quirks, irritating traits, and so on.
What Does Unconditional Love Mean?
Some people have the wrong idea about unconditional love. They think that it means that they must love to the degree that they put up with disrespectful behavior. Or, they have to change for their partner, giving away their own identity. This isn’t healthy love.
Essentially, unconditional love means that both of you work as a team, allowing each of you to be who they are and accepting each other along your journey. It means accepting them even when you don’t understand them or they’re not thinking or doing like you think they should.
Can You Practice Unconditional Love?
This is where the rubber meets the roads for healthy, mature relationships.
Are you able to accept and love your partner unconditionally? Without conditions?
You may be nodding yes, but chances are you’ll be challenged every now and then. How about if they gain weight? Lose their hair? Or when they go through a dark night of the soul? Lose their job? Childhood trauma is kicking their butt?
There are many reasons you could contemplate ditching your partner.
However, you don’t have to. You can learn ahead of time how to deal with things that come up in a relationship – normal and tough things. Those kinds of things you’re not sure you can deal with, but you’re willing to try.
The good news is that a firm commitment to fully accept and love your partner is not impossible.
In fact, it may be easier than you think.
Today, let’s look at ways you can show up for your partner accepting and loving them unconditionally.
Take note, however, that I’m talking about relationships where there’s no abuse of any kind going on. If your partner is abusing you mentally, emotionally, physically, or sexually, those are behaviors you do not have to accept. If you are being abused, seek help.
How You Can Be a Supportive Partner
To accept your partner unconditionally means that you’re in it for the long haul. You are committed to showing up for your partner, even when it is uncomfortable. Even when you’re mad at them. Even when you’re shaking in your shoes.
Sometimes life throws difficult circumstances at you and/or your relationship. The stress piles up. You get frustrated with each other. You get bored in the relationship. You wonder if the grass is really greener on the other side.
Sometimes your partner acts out. They whine, complain, project their feelings onto you, are insecure, emotionally aloof, and so on. So, what do you do when your partner is going through a tough time? Do you take their distance or irritability personal? Or do you step up and show up as unconditional love? Do you accept them right where they are in the midst of their stuff?
It’s Not Personal
The reality is tough times come and your partner can’t be your superhero all the time. Maybe work has piled up and it’s stressing them out. Or maybe they feel like their passion for life has dwindled. Keep in mind that it’s not personal.
Sit down and have a discussion with your partner and ask them what’s going on. Let them know that you sense something is bothering them and let them know you’re there to listen. Open the door and invite a discussion. They may share of they might not. Either way, you’ve made it clear that you’re not taking it personal and you’re open to listen.
Keep It Positive
Open communication is a key to a harmonious relationship. Keep your discussions on a positive note as best as you can, even if there is some tension in the air. If you’re feeling like you’re powerless over your partner’s dilemma, accept that you may be powerless- and that’s alright. Trust that they will get through this difficult time and do your best to support them the whole time.
Forgive Each Other
Get familiar with forgiveness, as your relationship will be much better if you both commit to forgiving each other. You’re not going to get it perfect. There will be days you lash out, offend, project, blame, and so on. Ask for forgiveness and extend it when your partner asks for it.
Give Them Time And Space
When you’re struggling with a situation, don’t you sometimes just need some time and space? You might need to give your partner the same consideration and allow them to do the internal or external work that needs to be done.
Maybe they’ve got some lessons to learn. Or perhaps they are dealing with an unfortunate situation. Focus on keeping yourself together and believing in your partner. Be the rock that they need and the cheerleader they desire.
You Both Deserve Happiness
Both you and your partner deserve happiness. When you can accept your partner for who they are, you’re both more apt to experience happiness. This means you’re not relying totally on them for your level of joy and vice versa. You both commit to letting each of you have your own personality, quirks and flaws included.
That being said, unconditional love doesn’t mean that you have to stay in a situation where you or both of you are miserable. If the relationship just isn’t working despite your efforts, maybe it’s time to end that chapter. Of course, you may want to head off to couple’s therapy before making that decision. You can gain some really great insights when you commit to a season of counseling.
Do You Love Conditionally?
How do you think you’re doing loving your partner? Do you have conditions on that love?
For example, if your partner is 30 minutes late for dinner, do you become cold and ignore them for days? Withdrawing your love like that won’t help matters. In fact, it will weaken the foundation of your relationship.
Love without conditions means that you still show up in love to your partner, even when they mess up or hurt you. In the example above, rather than giving the cold shoulder, you could sit down and have a conversation around the situation. Let them know how you feel. Let them explain why they were late. Try not to get triggered, but really have a heart-to-heart about it.
You don’t have to love it that they’re late, but you also don’t have to withdraw love.
Another example of conditional love includes expecting your partner to do things for you in return for what you do for them. (And getting mad when they don’t) Other examples include thinking or saying things like:
· “I’ll only love you if…”
· “I only want easy breezy. If things get hard or chaotic, I’m gone.”
· “If you don’t A, B, or C, I’ll be gone.”
Commit To Unconditional Love
Be honest with yourself as you gauge how you love your partner. Commit to unconditional love, even if they’re not quite there yet. Who knows? As you show up for them without conditions, they may enjoy it so much they get on board and follow suit. After all, not everyone learns how to love without conditions growing up.
Stand by your partner, declaring things like:
· “I’m with you. I’ll love you even if you…”
· “I’ve got your back. No matter what, I’m your partner, and I’m on your side.”
· “When the tough times come, I’m staying. I’m in this with you.”
How do you show up and accept your partner unconditionally?