Unconditional love means setting your own agenda aside and loving anyway. At first, it’s a difficult sell. You might think, “How can I love her when she reacts this way?” Or “How can I be happy when he doesn’t listen to me?”
In fact, in the beginning, setting the ego aside will seem downright impossible but I promise, with time and patience, this next practice will change your life.
Gary Chapman, author of “The 5 Love Languages” writes:
“When you make a request of your spouse, you are affirming his or her worth and abilities… When, however, you make demands, you have become not a lover but a tyrant. Your spouse will feel not affirmed but belittled. A request introduces the element of choice. Your mate may choose to respond to your request or to deny it, because love is always a choice. That’s what makes it meaningful.”
Many believe their relationships will improve when their spouse fulfills their demands and “changes their ways”. They set expectations of their partners and imply that if the demand is not fulfilled, they will no longer love them. We make people feel unloved when we do not act as though we are valuing and accepting of their choices. We often make demands unconsciously.
Sometimes, it’s subtle. You’re with a friend who has something on his mind and you want the opportunity to help.
You say, “Hey, what’s wrong? Come on, you know you can tell me.”
This is a demand masquerading a request.
It places pressure on your friend to explain their feelings and thoughts to you. If he isn’t in the mood to talk, he must deny your demand which can make both of you uncomfortable. Try this instead: “ Hey, you aren’t your usual cheerful self. Is there anything you want to talk about?” This simple request affirms your friend and gives them the choice of discussing their feelings with you.
Other times, we make a demand masquerading as a debt repayment, “It’s your turn to do the dishes. I’m tired.”
But this does not affirm that person’s worth or abilities. It gives them two options: doing what you’ve asked or refusing and opening the door to a potential argument. There is no winning in this scenario.
A request that would affirm that person’s abilities and would sound more like, “I’m feeling kind of tired. When we work together we get chores done much faster. Would you mind drying the dishes?” A request will always feel better for both parties when it’s said without the expectation that the other person will perform what you’ve asked of them. That means if your partner doesn’t feel like doing the dishes tonight, you don’t argue with him or give him the “silent treatment”.
When you make a request you are genuinely giving that person their power back. When you give them the power of choice and love them no matter what their decision is, you will experience something incredible. You both will feel unconditional love. Removing the conditions from your love is the most healing, liberating, and fulfilling experience you can have. The benefits from love are lasting and immediate.
And by the way, when people feel truly loved, they do amazing things. They change. They grow. They heal. Their health and mood improves. Your relationship improves and the world improves with it.
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