Is it possible to love your spouse unconditionally? What if your spouse does not love you back? What do you do?

So a lot of people interpret the teachings about agape love in the bible to mean that even within the context of a lifelong marriage relationship, you are meant to love your spouse unconditionally. You are meant to meet and fulfill all their needs and not worry about yours. People interpret this scripture to mean you should meet the needs of your spouse, even if they don’t meet your own needs at all.

I have a problem with that. I just don’t think it is realistic. If we get married at 25 and live till we are 100 (that’s 75 years of being married!) and I spend my entire life meeting my husband’s needs without him caring enough to meet my own (or vice versa), then something is horribly wrong.

Without going through the detail of analyzing the love scriptures one by one, I do know there are many words that translate into the word love in the bible and the Greek word, agape is one of them. I also know that agape was used to describe God’s selfless love for us. It was not used to describe other forms of relationships. This makes me believe we might be misapplying this type of love to the husband/wife relationship and thus shaping the wrong mindsets.

So here is the main argument for my point. If you are in a relationship with someone and you are meeting their emotional needs but they are not meeting yours then guess what?

You will not be in love with them.

So when we interpret agape love within the context of marriage to mean we should love someone and meet their emotional needs for the rest of our lives even if they are not willing to meet our own emotional needs, what we are in essence saying is we are meant to love someone we are not in love with, unconditionally.

I personally don’t believe this is possible.

You can care about someone who is not meeting your emotional needs but you won’t be in love with them. It is hard to love someone in the most intimate relationship you have, a person who is meant to be the one you are most vulnerable with, if that person chooses to miss out on the opportunity to grow with you and give of themselves in your relationship.

When I see these situations, it always makes me ask the question “If you got married without the intention of meeting your spouse’s emotional needs, then what was the point of getting married?”

I can understand not being able to meet their physical needs due to a physical limitation, or their financial needs, but their emotional needs? THAT, I don’t understand.

I have had spouses more willing to work on their relationship than their partners come to me for advice, but unfortunately they are always under the impression that they can change their partner. Their strategy is always to start meeting the needs of the spouse who is not meeting their own needs, in the hopes that they could influence this spouse into changing.

This works sometimes.

But the reality is its effects tend to be short term. Because for a marriage to thrive, both partners have to mutually work at letting go of their egotistical character to do whatever they please, and grasp the concept that marriage is all about how to strengthen each other. If this is not a mutual effort, then the other person feels belittled and torn down. A one-sided relationship goes against the all-important ‘lifting up’ purpose of marriage.

As a follower of Christ, I believe a marriage is a union between two people who choose to join their spirits together as they journey towards a discovery of the divine and their purpose in life; with the Spirit of God as their guide and third person in their union. And for this reason, because it is an institution that also includes the presence of the divine, I see it as sacred and as something that must be respected and protected.

I also believe God is love, and the nature of God is to give, meaning…love is giving. We are meant to give to our spouses. Bear in mind, since you are now in a union, bound by the same spirit, if one spouse refuses to retaliate in love (i.e. refuses to give) you will eventually drain the other spouse of their capacity to love you (i.e. their ability to give themselves emotionally to you). They might care about you, but you will make it difficult for them to love you.

I have also found that when I analyze the root cause leading to this predicament amongst couples, I find the most common problem to be they haven’t learned to meet each other’s needs in a way they can both enjoy.

So to answer the question of what you do if you find yourself in this situation, the first thing is to identify your emotional needs that your spouse is not meeting and determine if there is a way your spouse can meet this need, in a way THEY will also enjoy!

This is typically easier if it is a need like sex, but much harder if it is a need like words of affirmation. This I believe is the real journey ahead of you to find what it truly means to be in love with each other.

May God who is agape love, open up the heart of your spouse to realize you are a precious gift to them and may they discover the true pleasure of meeting your emotional needs, as you are willing to meet theirs.

You can also read my post “The four things marriage is not and the one thing it is” to give you further insight to what marriage really is. This way, if you are new to the terrain, you have an idea what to watch out for and if you are a veteran, you have an idea what necessary work is required to get you back on track.

Keep giving,

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About ZeeZee

ZeeZee is a certified Relationship and Marriage Coach who believes her purpose in life is to equip couples with the right tools for a successful relationship. Through her website and YouTube channel she shares practical tips and principles that help couples understand the inner workings of a healthy marriage.