Conditional Love

In General by Dr. Keith Witt

The love of a husband and wife is in many ways our most important relationship. Strangely, it also is one of the most conditional loves there is. We are lover, friend, business partner, co-parent, confidant, mother, father, sister, brother, and moral compass to our spouse depending on situation and circumstance. Any of these connections can cause suffering and disconnection if injured or stunted. If a couple doesn't take care of their friendship, their love affair, and quick repair of injuries, their kids suffer. One the other hand, marital love provides some of our greatest opportunities to use love and secure attachment to accelerate our personal/relational/spiritual growth. A growing marital love gives children their best chance to thrive, channels our best gifts to the world, and is the central feature of most happy lives.

This means that we as therapists need to understand both the importance and conditions of satisfying love, and the impossibility of actual unconditional love. Knowing this and teaching it to our clients helps them know what's required to have superior relationships.

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