Love: What constitutes unconditional vs conditional?

Have you ever read in the news of a person having committed a heinous crime, but his/her family stood by their side? One example is Karla Homolka, who we all know committed unspeakable atrocities, even killing her own sister after offering her up to her future psychotic husband Paul Bernardo. Though all she cared about after her sister’s funeral was planning her wedding, and was upset that her parents were so distracted by something she obviously deemed nowhere as important as her upcoming nuptuals.
One would say this isn’t unusual as she must be from a long line of cold-hearted and possibly cold-blooded lunatics. On the one hand, we speak of loving our families, no matter what, but where does one draw the line? I mean, if she had been innocent and professed as much, I could see her family standing by her side and doing all they could to get her released, but when they knew she was guilty, even though she killed her own sister, one has to ask, what were they thinking? She showed no remorse, and though her and her lawyer’s actions were clearly in violation of the “sweetheart” deal made if she revealed all, as she and her lawyer hid the tapes which were concealed in her attic, still she spent precious little time in jail and is now remarried and more disgustingly, a parent. Will she abuse her children, will she incorporate them into her twisted killing sprees? One has to wonder, and if they, by the grace of God, turn out to not be criminally insane, will she forsake them?
Another example of misguided love is when a mother allows her husband to abuse physically, mentally and/or sexually and does nothing about it. I went to a support group years ago for survivors of incest, and the stories I heard broke my heart and sickened me to no end. In one instance, the mother left the marital bed so the husband could have sex with their daughter. Another occurrence was a mother, upon hearing her child’s screams as the husband/father sexually abused her, turned the faucet on fully so the sound would drown out the cries for help. In cases such as these, it is clear the woman’s love for her despicable husband goes much deeper than any so-called love for her child.
That said, I am loathe to explain why I still love a family member who sexually as well as mentally abused me. While it’s true this person is all the blood family I have and there were good times to be had, this connection to the past does not fully explain my feelings. I no longer have contact with this person, yet many whom I’ve told of this are still in contact and even like or love this person, yet many of those have no contact with me. What kind of world are we living in?
I’ve known of many whose spouse cheated on them, and these spouses forgave them, even when the guilty party promised never again to stray, but did so as soon as the opportunity allowed. Are these people who so love their spouse they will forgive them anything as long as they are not abandoned? Do they in turn have affairs and just use the home as a place to change their clothes and pick up their mail?
To my mind, love cannot exist without trust, yet there are so many examples where there is love but trust is a word and a half word. The love my husband and I have is strong as we share the same values and would never, EVER hurt the other as first, we are best friends and people rarely stab their best friend in the back/heart, and second, neither of us could look the other in the eye knowing the night before we’d been in bed w/ another. I know I couldn’t look myself in the mirror if I’d ever done something so deceitful and hurtful to someone to whom I pledged my love and promised before God, friends and family to forsake all others.
Perhaps these people have no self-esteem, or no self-respect. Perhaps they think that as their spouse always returns to them, these affairs are meaningless as they have their spouse’s true commitment. And what about when one spouse is found to have had a child with their lover, either a woman having lied to her husband that their child was his, or a woman finds out that, as in the case with Arnold Schwarzenegger, that they’d had a child with someone while carrying on with their marriage as though nothing untoward has occurred? I know in the case of the latter, the marriage ended upon this knowledge having been revealed, but I also wonder how his lover, their maid, who was pregnant at the same time as Maria, could have kept up the pretence of loyalty while lying as to her baby’s paternity.

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