This is more of a musing, than anything, but I’m thinking of it, and want to share, with someone.
Something I’ve done, as long as I can recall is say I love you, I was raised with the notion of, I love you no matter what, I might not like you or what you are doing, but I do love you. I realize, this is not how everyone was raised, but it is a concept that keeps families together, and makes for happier homes. It wasn’t my own situation that brought these thoughts about, I have always made a habit with my kids to tell them I love them, same with my husband, I just do, and my kids say it back, they know no matter what, that they are loved.
My best friend in the world, also a mom of three who has trouble, as her husband doesn’t believe he deserves to be loved, we were both raised with unconditional love, but he wasn’t his mom only showed her love, if he did stuff for her, he didn’t have that relationship like we did. This is toxic, as the child receiving only conditional love doesn’t gain the sense of self worth as a child who receives unconditional love. So my best friend’s husband doesn’t understand how she can love him despite the fact that they live pay check to pay check, as he clearly doesn’t make enough to make ends meet properly. He also doesn’t understand about showing her love, despite the fact she isn’t the kind of house keeper he would like her to be, and their children act out, in part, because they see these conflicting types of love, though they are much more balanced than children only receiving conditional love.
I will soon be urging my friend to try an experiment, which I am sure will take much time and patience, on her part, I am going to tell her to express her love to him in the same way that she shows the kids, no strings attached saying “I Love You” in every situation where she would tell her kids, such as, when he leaves, when he comes home, and at bed time. One problem with this will be, at first he won’t believe her, and he is in the habit of telling her that, in such a way that it hurts her, so she will have to start this by telling him that he has to stop that behavior.
I suspect that when she starts, his internal dialogue of ‘how can you love me’ and ‘no you don’t’ will continue for some time, but as he hears her love over and over, he will begin to believe it, It will not be an easy thing for either of them, for her to continue despite his poor attitude about the practice or for him to silence that voice telling him he’s not good enough, but in the end, if she is able to, with persistence tell him over and over (as appropriate) that she loves him, no matter what, he will eventually believe her, and learn to accept unconditional love.