The word “love” gets thrown around a lot these days and applied to all sorts of types of relationships and emotions. But in the New Testament of the Bible, written in Greek, the authors used more specific terms to describe different types of love. We think two of these are very important to every marriage, so read on to learn what love in marriage looks like and how to show them to your spouse…
1. Eros Love. This is the love we see celebrated in music and movies—that romantic, dizzying, attraction that most couples feel in the initial stages of a relationship. While eros isn’t the whole picture, it’s an important component of a thriving marriage and should be nurtured over the long term. What do we mean?
- Putting effort into the things that made eros so easy in the beginning. Like looking nice for your spouse, flirting, and keeping the chemistry alive, even if it’s just…Tuesday.
- Continuing to date, even after the kids come along. A long romantic dinner or a slow walk without the kids helps you fan the flame of desire when the pressure of life and parenthood threatens to squelch it.
- Making time for intimacy. Get the kids in bed earlier, turn off the TV, and go to bed together. Even if you just cuddle and whisper, it’s good for the soul and for building that eros connection.
Eros love won’t be the same in your twentieth year of marriage as it was in your first, but you can’t overlook its importance. Figure out what it looks like in your marriage today, and nurture it!
2. Agape Love. Agape love is the stuff that holds a marriage—and a family—together through all kinds of seasons. It’s the selfless, unconditional type of love that helps people to forgive one another, to respect one another, and to serve one another, day in and day out. Unfortunately, many modern couples think that when eros love is lagging, there’s nothing left to bind a marriage together. But agape love is the glue that keeps your relationship intact while you rehabilitate other areas that need work. Here are some ways that agape love is lived out in marriage:
- Respecting your husband, even when you don’t really “like” him or think he deserves it.
- Serving your husband and family’s needs, even when you’re not sure they truly appreciate it.
- Forgiving your spouse when he screws up, and understanding that tomorrow it may be you who needs forgiveness.
- Putting your spouse’s needs before your own.
Of course, every marriage needs give and take and you can’t force your spouse to show you the agape love you desire. What you can do to change the temperature and dynamics of your relationship is to model the kind of self-sacrificial love you’d like to receive yourself. You may be surprised to see how this motivates your spouse to return the favor.
Dana Hall McCain writes about marriage, parenting, faith and wellness for print publications and iMOM.com. She’s a mom of two, and has been married to a wonderful guy for 17 years.