click here to jump to start of article
  • Torah Reading: Naso
Join Our Newsletter

Get latest articles and videos with Jewish inspiration and insights​

I'll Love You If…
Mom with a View

I'll Love You If…

Great marriages are based on unconditional commitment.


“Couples therapists agree that commitment weakens as alternatives increase. Dr. Lewis recalls a client who realized she was unhappy in her marriage after she lost weight, became athletic and found she was attractive to men other than her husband.” 

When I first read this idea (Wall Street Journal 02/01/11), I was appalled.  But upon further reading, I realized the obvious.  It’s not that commitment weakens as alternatives increase.  It must be that the commitment wasn’t very strong to begin with, or that their concept of commitment was an extremely narrow one.  In fact, the client referred to above went so far as to say, “I married him thinking I don’t have a choice because I was heavy.”   

This is certainly not how I define commitment and it seems like a, shall we say, flimsy basis for a marriage. 

In Ethics of Our Fathers we are told that love that is dependent on something external will not last.  Only love that is unconditional is enduring. 

Sometimes we hear about husbands who are no longer happy with their wives’ physical appearance. This is the complete opposite of our definition of love.  Weight and looks can’t be made a condition of marriage. Besides making the overweight or otherwise less attractive spouse crazy, it doesn’t even come close to our understanding of a real commitment. 

I’ve heard women say, “If he loses his money, I’m outta here.”  It’s hard to know which alternative would be best for the hapless husband of such a person. And it never ceases to amaze me.   

Commitment means NO conditions. It means that I have challenges and you have challenges and we’ll see them through together.  If either partner feels that one false move leads to stern disapproval and rejection, we call that…abuse. 

The truth is that in every marriage we need to separate fantasy and expectations from reality.  And we need to learn what it means to make a commitment based on who our partner is and not who we’d like them to be. 

In this economy, many people have lost jobs. Is your commitment dependent on your spouse’s career or power?  People get ill; they lose limbs or end up in wheelchairs, God forbid.  Did you only commit to someone you could go hiking and dancing with? 

All too often, I hear one spouse say, “This isn’t what I signed up for.”  But marriage isn’t a nine-to-five job where buying presents for your boss’ wife is considered outside the contract.  It’s a 24/7 venture – with no limits to the job description.  And many surprises in store – some wonderful, some less so. 

If we don’t understand that commitment in marriage is unconditional, then we will never really know how great a marriage can be.  We are hurting and limiting ourselves.  Commitment means that, no matter what (with extremely rare exceptions like spousal abuse), we are in this for the long haul.  There will be things I don’t like.  There will be situations you don’t like. There will be challenges and struggles and we will meet them together. 

It is wrong to believe that commitment weakens as alternatives increase.  With a strong commitment, there are simply no alternatives.

February 6, 2011

Give Tzedakah! Help create inspiring
articles, videos and blogs featuring timeless Jewish wisdom.
The opinions expressed in the comment section are the personal views of the commenters. Comments are moderated, so please keep it civil.

Visitor Comments: 7

(7) Gordon Moore, May 10, 2011 2:52 AM

unconditional love changes when you're an adult

The only reason I'm writing here is because I googled it. Society doesn't accept people for who we are. Most people try to stereotype us and put us in boxes. Unconditional might be too strong of a word . We're adults now not children. I think maybe a better word might be that we tolerate our spouses and we support them for who they are. We don't cheat on them and we give them all the love we can. Not perfect love but all the love we are capable of. Some people aren't capable of much love or what they have is different than what you expect.

(6) Rhonda Stock, February 13, 2011 5:12 PM

I Wholeheartedly Agree!

I loved this article. It is really freeing to realize that one will have their spouse "forever" and this can only happen if two people commit to one another "no matter what."...through the ups and the downs.

(5) Ihaveanopinion, February 9, 2011 1:26 PM

true love

True love is always unconditional. If the foundation for your marriage is true love, and not the color of her hair, thickness of his wallet or color of her eyes, then you will be able to love your spouse whatever the alternatives may be.

(4) David, February 9, 2011 2:38 AM

This is great, wish I had read it years ago

age doesnt equal wisdom. Marriage doesnt equal success. It takes alot of work and unconditional support and committment.

(3) Faye Beyeler, February 8, 2011 5:27 PM



See All Comments

Submit Your Comment:

  • Display my name?

  • Your email address is kept private. Our editor needs it in case we have a question about your comment.

  • * required field 2000
Submit Comment