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There is this believe about marriage and relationships that love is, or should be, unconditional. That when we have found our “True Love,” it means that we are with someone that should love us at all times. There is even a popular saying about it.

“If you can’t handle me at my worst, then you don’t deserve me at my best.”

We can have unconditional love for our children. But with our partner, not only is love typically not “unconditional,” but it also shouldn’t be. There are many valid, positive reasons for love not to be unconditional. We should always have expectations not only of our partner, but of ourselves.

Why Shouldn’t Love Be Unconditional?

Life is not a straight line, and two people are not always the same people with the same positive, honeymoon like dynamic. Throughout life as a couple, you and your partner are going to be experiencing constant ups and downs. You’re going to be faced with challenges and setbacks. You’ll also be changing often as people. Most people change considerably in their 20s, 30s, 40s, and beyond.

In order to keep the love strong, a couple needs to also be motivated to change who they are and continually establish and re-establish their role in the relationship with their partner. Love has to be reciprocal and complementary in order to grow.

Unconditional love implies that, should someone make absolutely no effort, both partners should accept this openly and gleefully. It’s this assumption that your “worst” can be pretty much anything – crime, abuse, etc. – and you should put up with it, because you promised yourself and that person you would love them unconditionally.

Relationships that are unconditional provide no motivation for the other person to better themselves, and for both partners to put in effort in the relationship. Not only do truly unconditional romantic relationships rarely exist, the most successful couples are often the ones that feel a responsibility to keep the relationship going strong – the people that want to make sure they never lose it.

Couples Counseling and Growing as a Team

You can love your children unconditionally. But you and your partner benefit from feeling at least a little bit of pressure to evaluate your own behaviors and work on yourselves. The more you feel motivated to keep the relationship growing and thriving, the more you are putting yourself in a position to help it truly last.

Couples counseling is one way that both partners can learn to grow for themselves or each other. It provides an opportunity to help guide you as a couple into learning more about what your partner is thinking and what they need.

If you’re in need of couples counseling in Brooklyn, or anywhere in NYC, please contact Flourish Psychology today.

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