Have you ever found yourself irritated with your spouse – not liking him or her very much – even though you know you love your spouse? Most of us have had those days! It’s perfectly normal. No two people can live together for any length of time without once in awhile rubbing each other the wrong way.

What’s important is how you handle these kinds of times. If you let those feelings of hurt or disappointment take over – your marriage will suffer. You will create a rift in your relationship. So you have to make a choice. You have to decide to love. You may not feel loving, but if you decide to love, the feelings will follow.

You have to learn to demonstrate unconditional love to your spouse. Unconditional love is necessary for a strong marriage. Are you practicing unconditional love in your marriage? Here are some questions to consider:

• Have you accepted your spouse’s failures or weaknesses?

• Do you support your spouse, or do you see his or her weaknesses as projects to fix?

• Are you afraid to be honest because your spouse might not accept you?

There is a huge difference between unconditional love and conditional love. Conditional love blames a person, expects things in return, and asks for more. Unconditional love accepts the person, expects nothing in return and sacrifices.

Conditional love says:

• "I will love you only if…"

• "I don’t know if I can handle the tough times. If things get too bad I’m outta here."

• "I might not be able to forgive you if you tell me…"

Unconditional love says:

• "I will love you even if…"

• "I will stay with you no matter what. I will always love you, even in the tough times."

• "I know I’ll still love you if you tell me…"

Your spouse isn’t perfect and you are the one person who sees all his or her faults and fears. What do you do with what you know about your spouse?

• Do you tease your spouse with hurtful words?

• Worse, do you tease your spouse with hurtful words in front of others?

• Do you put your spouse down?

• Do you withhold your love until your spouse corrects certain faults?

If you answered "yes" to a majority of these questions, you are loving conditionally and creating a huge fault line that can at any moment open up and become a large chasm between you. Conditional love creates a marriage in which each spouse is more concerned with getting his or her own way, instead of showing their spouse grace and love.

Your response and connection to your spouse are crucial to the health of your marriage and family. Your expression of unconditional love and acceptance is the force that will hold you together in the midst of the testing times in your marriage. Your standing with each other in the painful times as well as the good times is one of the primary elements of a great marriage.

If you love each other conditionally, you’ll end up living like two immature children – each trying to get your own way and resenting the other person when you don’t. You may still be married, but you’ll miss our on the joy of a great marriage. Also, husbands and wives who don’t get unconditional love in their marriage may look for it somewhere else. And while they’re looking for that unconditional love – they’re pulling away from their spouse.