You’ve said, “I do” and promised to love for “better or for worse,” but did you mean it? Because “saying “I do” doesn’t mean they will love you unconditionally or you will be able to offer the same.
You’re probably shocked that I asked the question.
“Of course I meant it. I’m married”, you think.
But wedding vows are simply words, nothing more. Wedding vows are a promise that are more often than not, broken. There is no ironclad agreement that will keep a couple together, forever, whether we like this fact or not.
Too often, wedding vows are simply lip service. This isn’t to say that people don’t wholeheartedly mean them when they’re standing there with the person they love in front of their family and friends. This is to say that more often than not as time goes on, people forget their vows. People forget that they promised to love “for better or worse,” when truly unconditional love is hard to come by! And it’s hard to do!
A mother or father has unconditional love for his or her children, (one should hope) which means that no matter how wonderful or not wonderful a person’s kids are, the love is unwavering and unrelenting. I’m willing to bet that even Charles Manson and Kayne West’s parents love them unconditionally, even if one is a sociopath murderer and the other an arrogant narcissist.
However, finding another adult to love unconditionally is a challenge.
It’s not impossible of course, (how damning would that be?) but it’s difficult. If it weren’t a challenge, true love wouldn’t be so special because we would all have such easy access to it that perhaps we might not really value it as we do in today’s day.
The fact is to actually love in the verb sense of the word is a fine craft that must be tailored and adjusted over time. Yes, real love is work—but never hard labor. It’s an effort to love, but should never feel like slave labor.
In order to really love someone unconditionally, overtime means a commitment to continually discover new things about your partner and for your partner to commit to discovering new things about him or herself. The same goes for you!
You need to put energy into discovering new things about you and sharing who you are as a person and who you are “growing” into. Accepting the changes in one another and loving each other for who you are and will be is what unconditional love is about: not some marriage license or ring on your finger. Not some cliché “for better or worse” phrase.
Bottom line? Wedding vows mean zilch on their own.
Wedding vows don’t come to life until you live them and not simply for the first few years of marriage, but continuously, every single day.
Sometimes though, loving someone for all he or she is, is the absolute worst thing you could do! How so, you ask?
Loving someone unconditionally is toxic when the person you love is an addict, cheater, or an abuser. Loving someone no matter how he or she treats you for “better or worse” is not what love is supposed to be about. It’s not love at all actually: it’s dependence.
Parents can love their children even if they’re a sociopath like I said before, but if you’ve said your vows with a man or woman whose behaviors range from cheating to using drugs, it’s time to reconsider those vows. It’s time to say, “Maybe not, for better or for worse.”
If you’ve solemnly sworn to die with your partner and his or her way of showing you love is by cheating, abusing, using, lying or any other toxic behavior, it’s time to break those vows.
No matter what you say or swear, no one should be married to destruction. No one should willingly raise his or her hand and say, “I married this person so now I need to stay in this ugly toxic situation for life.”
Remember: wedding vows mean nothing until you’re living them and if you’re married to someone who is married to bad behaviors and ways of living, then it is time to divorce yourself from someone who doesn’t have room for you in his or her life while engaging in toxic behaviors and actions.
Vows are only as good as the two people who say and live them. Never, ever feel guilty for leaving someone or not loving someone unconditionally who is toxic or abusive. Too many people feel stuck by the legal or religious commitment they made and the connotations that those marital vows have to leave a bad apple when they should. No one is holding you hostage to this person. Not even the law. There is a way out and if you love yourself, unconditionally, then you should set yourself free.
And that’s the real moral of the story: the person you must love unconditionally is yourself first and foremost, otherwise what kind of a partner will you be? You can stand up in front of the whole town and promise to love someone for eternity but if you don’t love yourself, the words are just air.