Sunday, December 29, 2013

Conditional Love.

I work with quite a few couples in therapy. I also see my friends navigating the often tumultuous waters of their relationships, and of course I have my own relationship history to draw from. As such, my current conclusion is that the best recipe for a healthy, happy, loving relationship is to make sure that, every day, you're actively choosing that person as your partner.

To me, 'actively choosing' means making a decision every day to be fully present and committed to the relationship. It means noticing your partner, appreciating small things, using kind words, and not assuming you can just do those things tomorrow. It means you can't waste today being bitter or crabby or angry, because you only know that you have chosen each other *today*. That's not to say you haven't made a long-term commitment; perhaps you have. But the commitment to be together needs to be revisited daily, in whatever small ways keep it fresh.

Here is why: aside from (maybe) parent/child/sibling relationships, I don't think it is reasonable to expect that love be unconditional. In truth, the love we choose to share within the context of an intimate relationship is entirely conditional. It is based on the agreement -the condition- that you will be kind and respectful to me and meet my relationship needs to the best of your abilities. Similarly, I have agreed to be kind and respectful to you and reciprocate your efforts. These are the conditions of our continuing relationship. 
When you have actively chosen to love someone, you have agreed to the conditions of the relationship. And in making this agreement,  it also means you are obliged to avoid all of those mean and selfish things we do when we are hurt or feeling neglected (both words and actions) that feel so good right when you are doing them, but which over time erode the quality of the agreement and make it more difficult to actively choose one another.

1 comment:

  1. This is right on...thanks for putting into words what I have started to also realize needs to be a daily choice!