In The Proper Care and Feeding of Marriage, Dr. Laura Schlesinger touches on several concepts in relationships that hit way too close to home.
Strangely, it was a book I almost didn't pick up, passing over it several times because I believed it to be too “mainstream” or “commercialized.” I'm apparently a scruffy beard, half-caff broke-a-chino, hipster-type when it comes to reading marriage books.
Well shame on me. It was a great book, with several prominent and hidden tips. And practical, too.
One of the topics that jumped out to me was the concept of unconditional love.
I took the knowledge that my wife loved me unconditionally for granted for several years. It's one of the primary causes of my years of sub-par performance as a husband.
Unconditional love is a fallacy. It's a trap.
If you take it for granted, because it's “unconditional,” you risk letting the feeling of love atrophy.
That's what I did. And we suffered greatly because of it.
In my mind, I didn't have to worry about love. We had that covered. Our love was unconditional…. [click to tweet]
Boy was that wrong.
It's not “wrong” in the sense that our love was actually “conditional.”
It is wrong because it removed the need and desire to be loving, to “practice” love, to grow our love, which is key to “feeling” loved.
Being loved and feeling loved are two very different things. [click to tweet]
Loving each other is important. But speaking and acting in such a way as to make the other person “feel” loved is where marriages can separate themselves from the pack.
An extra kiss. Or, better yet, a kiss with a “dip,” like a ballroom dancer, always catches a smile.
Ending sentences with a sincere, “my love,” puts both of us in a more loving mood and improves the tone of every conversation.
Consciously asking myself how I can act or talk “in a more loving way” helps me address uncomfortable topics without hurting feelings.
Each of those thoughts or gestures is simple, but has had an incredible impact on my wife “feeling” more loved. And on me feeling loved in return. Perhaps it's subconscious reciprocity – she feels loved and acts even more loving. Or, more likely, she had been more loving for years and I just didn't notice. It's probably a little of both.
What are you doing to avoid the unconditional love complacency trap? To be more loving on a daily basis? To cultivate an environment full of love? To not take “unconditional love” for granted?
Another helpful resource on how (and why) to be more loving to your wife is
Emerson Eggerichs' book Love & Respect: The Love She Most Desires; The Respect He Desperately Needs. As you might tell from the title, it's a great resource for wives, too. As of this writing, the Kindle version is on sale for only $9.99. Imagine if you could improve your marriage exponentially for $9.99? Now imagine not improving your marriage for $9.99. I have a print copy and scored a kindle copy today, so it's never too far away.