Simple ways to recognize love from control
Has anyone ever said to you, "If you loved me, you would do what I ask?" If they did, I imagine it felt like a "guilt trip." "If you love me, you should do what I want," is control. It is coming from the person's fear and not their love. This is one common way people abuse the concept of love.
For example, when Steve and Amy were married, they were not interested in practicing religious rituals. Two years later, Steve suddenly told Amy, "I want us to celebrate the Saturday Sabbath. I don't want us or anyone else working here that day." Amy, a very free spirit, was shocked. She was never considered, and there was no discussion. When she protested, Steve said, "If you love me you will do this for me."
Needless to say, Amy was furious. She did love her husband, and she felt her objections to his demand had nothing to do with love. Since his desire affected her, she felt it was appropriate for her to have been included in the decision. Can you relate to Amy?
It would have been different if Steve had approached his wife with his wishes and asked her how she felt about it. Together, they could have come up with a win-win solution. That is the healthy, loving couple. When you are emotionally mature, and you truly love someone, you want them to also be happy.
In another case, without consulting her husband, Tom, Gabrielle quit her job with the intention of enrolling in college classes. The couple had purchased a home based on both of their incomes. Tom was upset because he was told after the fact, and he felt burdened with all the expenses. Gabrielle told Tom to get a second job. "If you love me," she said, "you would support me to follow my dream."
The car mechanic was extremely resentful. He was coming home at night very tired from his long day at work and had no desire to pursue another job. However, Tom felt guilty for not wanting his wife to go to college at that time. However, he would have preferred that Amy had discussed her wishes with him and made a request instead of a demand. There were also other options including her working part-time or waiting a few years until they had a stronger financial base.
In both cases, the relationships suffered from the unhealthy dynamics. Love and control are on the opposite side of the emotional spectrum. Control is fear-based and love is obviously love based. True love is unconditional, and we don't have to keep proving that we love our partners. We always want to discuss things together and make decisions as a couple and not unilaterally.
I suggest that if your partner says, "If you love me, you would do what I say," you can reply, "I love you, and let's talk about the situation, brainstorm and see how we can both feel comfortable with what we decide. That is an essential ingredient for a healthy loving relationship.
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