Day 127: My conditional love

Express (verbally and/or non-verbally) to your loved ones that no matter what happens, your love for them will remain unconditional.

Unconditional love? But it’s not. It shouldn’t be.

I want my family to love me no matter what. I want my wife to love me despite the occasional beard and my children to love me despite the occasional unfair judgement. I want to trust their love. I want to have no doubts, I want to be absolutely certain that they will love me, and feel that I can do anything without making their love go away.

But they can’t. And I shouldn’t want them to.

Sometimes, love should end. If I all of a sudden go all psychopath and start beating my wife and mistreating my children, they should stop loving me. If I ever turn psychopathic, I hope they will stop loving me: if I turn into Phineas Cage, I hope they mourn the person I was and the person they loved instead of loving the person I have become.

So if I get Alzheimer’s, I don’t want my wife to look after me? Wouldn’t that be romantic and sweet? Surely, I wouldn’t prefer it to end like this — that my wife’s love for me is conditional and ends when the person I was, is no more? Or do I want my wife to shrug and move on?

If love is unconditional, if love just is, then you love the feeling of being in love and being loved. You love love, and not the person your love has attached itself to. If my love for my wife is unconditional, it doesn’t matter what she does, be it good of bad, my love won’t change.

Treat me like dirt, treat me like a king; hurt me or help me; be mean to me or nice to me; make yourself ugly or make yourself beautiful — it doesn’t matter, I love you anyway.

And that can’t be. I love my wife, but the moment she starts stabbing me on a regular basis, my love will dwindle ever so slowly.

If my wife feels exactly the same way about me no matter what I do, she doesn’t care about what I do — and that’s not a way to treat your loved one.

(Perhaps unconditional love is like eternal love? You want it even though you know there is no such thing?)

I love my wife. That is my default mode. If nothing changes, I love her. And if something changes, my first thought is that I still love her. And my second thought. And my third. A lot has to happen for me to stop loving her — but because I love her, it might happen. Because I like her the way she is, I will have a hard time loving her if she suddenly changes her personality completely.

What do I love? Not some kind of abstract entity (soul? there is no such thing), but all the small concrete things. The way she plays with our kids. The way she laughs. The way she looks at me. The way we talk. All the usual clichés, but made unique by the fact that she does them her unique way. Her laughter. Her eyes. Her personality.

If she stop talking with me, or laughing with me, or looking at me that way; if she starts hating me, or despising me, or stop playing with the kids; if she stops loving me — I will stop loving her. I will mourn our love, but the woman I loved will no longer be.

Because I love her.

And I hope she feels the same way about me. I want to be loved no matter what — that is, I want to have that security of feeling loved no matter what. When I’m feeling blue, it’s the one thing I want more than anything: to be loved even though I behave like an asshole. And yet, if I am being loved unconditionally, I am not being loved at all. I am not being loved, it’s love for love’s sake, and that means I am just a vehicle which can be changed at any time.

I want my wife to love me no matter what. Unconditionally. And yet I don’t. Unconditional love is not real love — but it’s still the most beautiful, most reassuring, most pleasant kind of love I know. It’s an illusion; and even if it hadn’t been an illusion, it wouldn’t have been something you should have wanted. And yet it’s the one thing I want my wife to say, and the one thing I tell her: I love you no matter what.

Unconditional love? No, it shouldn’t be. And yet it must.