Thoughts On Love In Marriage

[My post Background on the Nature of Man will be helpful to understanding this post.]

I have had a long-standing theory about how love works within marriage, although I am not sure that I have ever devoted a post to it on this blog. I doubt it is a new or novel theory, in fact I would be surprised if it was. All the same, I think it is finally worth getting down.

My theory is simple: the best marriages are those which encompass all three major types of love- Eros, Philos and Agapos. When all three are present in marriage- when both husband and wife  express all three towards their spouse, I believe that a marriage is at its healthiest.

To me, this makes sense because the relationship would then extend to all aspects of our being. Eros is connected to our Body. Philos to our Soul. And Agapos is the love of our Spirit. When all three are present, the fullness of our nature is in play.

At the same time, when one of these loves is not present, it is a sign of serious trouble in a marriage.

No Eros? Well then, that means no passion from one of the spouses (or both). [The phrase “I love you but I’m not in love with you” is a sign of a marriage where Eros is gone.] That can mean denial of sex, and the frustration inherent in it. An absence of Eros also leads to greater temptation and danger of leading to all kinds of immorality.

Philos not present? Well, that means there is no friendship and amity in the marriage (or at least from one side of it). Both spouses will likely quarrel, and if not, it will only be because the other is trying to preserve harmony. There will be a lot of hot and cold in this marriage- it will move from moments of great passion to indifference or even enmity.

Agapos missing? Well, for one, that means that the marriage is no longer Christian. Without the self-sacrificing nature of Agapos the marriage will not be able to endure all the trials and tribulations of the world. At least, not unless society gives the spouses no choice on the matter. But in our present age? Without Agapos it will fall apart, sooner or later.

Of all three loves, Agapos is the most important. Only it can withstand everything the world has to throw at a married couple. But just because a couple stays together doesn’t mean the marriage is as healthy as it could or should be. All three loves should be present for a marriage to be as strong as God intended it.

At least, that is how I see it. I invite my readers to offer their own thoughts.

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17 Comments

Filed under Attraction, Blue Pill, Christianity, God, Marriage, Red Pill, State of Nature, Temptation

17 responses to “Thoughts On Love In Marriage

  1. Most marriages have Phileo. I truly believe that though these women have very little Eros and no Agape, these women do like, care about, and even love their husbands as human beings. These women really do like their husbands as good friends.

    Most marriages start out with a little Eros from her to him (if any at all) and with lots and lots of Eros from him to her. Most marriages have no Agape at all; and get only a little Agape as husband and wife age through the marriage.

    The biggest problem is near complete lack of Eros from her to him; and complete lack of Agape.

    [DG: Yes, I think that Agapos is lacking across the board. And Eros is also often lacking by women. However, I think you exaggerate the occurrence of the scenario you describe- the passionless marriage from the start.]

  2. Pingback: Thoughts On Love In Marriage – Manosphere.org

  3. Every marriage is different. It does happen sometimes that a pre-marriage relationship starts out with more Eros from the woman and more Phileo from the man and things shift and change; sometimes quite suddenly.

    Marriage is full of twists, turns, and stages. Scrarcity, abundance, child bearing, child rearing, sickness, health, better worse, growing older together. To quantify any of it in neat little boxes in nigh impossible

    Commitment to Agapos from both parties, early on -born of a commitment to Christ- is the thing that balances the scales. It keeps each party doing the right thing, and it keeps things pleasant, lively, and even (dare I say it?) fun. Once it’s firmly established that no one is going anywhere, it doesn’t make any sense to do anything other than relax and enjoy one another.

    Of course, life is all about perspective. The same thing that causes one couple to figure they may as well enjoy the ride might be the same thing that cause the parties in another marriage to feel frustrated and stuck, stifling the flow of Agapos. Which is kind of sad, really, and a waste.

  4. Could you expand a bit on your understanding of eros with respect to the presence of sexual chemistry (hormonal attraction) and/or the presence of sexual relations?

    I’m not married but the many couples I have spoken to say that the chemistry comes and goes throughout the marriage, and most of them say that the chemistry is never as strong as when they started the relationship. Even when it’s not there they might still be having sex, would you still call that eros? Would you classify a marriage in which there is not a lot of chemistry, but still regular sex, as “less healthy”?

    It seems to me that God made us to initially develop an intense hormonal desire for our counterparts to ensure that we bonded and fulfilled our creational mandate, and prior to contraceptives this would have typically lasted long enough for us to also help us bond together with our first child***.

    I myself feel inclined to define the eros component as simply having regular sex; while I think that having some ongoing chemistry is a great gift from God, I think it creates problems when couples have the (possibly wrong) expectation that a healthy marriage should always feel like it did when the relationship first started.

    *** Incidentally, I wonder if this mechanism is partly why so many marriages fail in the west. In the past we would have been introduced to a potential future spouse, the chemical attraction would have developed, we would have been married very shortly afterwards and then having our first child close to 9 months later. Now we are expected to delay this for study, building a career, waiting until finances are comfortable; we have several relationships where the chemistry is restarted each time (which in itself can become addictive), and then when we do find someone to marry we have exceedingly long courtship and engagement phases, ensuring that the chemistry is beginning to wear off by the time the wedding bands are on. We then use family planning and/or contraceptives to put off having our first child for several years while we enjoy the dual-income-no-kids lifestyle, so that when we do have our first child our strongest bonding chemistry has already been spent.

  5. KMan,

    I’m not married but the many couples I have spoken to say that the chemistry comes and goes throughout the marriage, and most of them say that the chemistry is never as strong as when they started the relationship. Even when it’s not there they might still be having sex, would you still call that eros? Would you classify a marriage in which there is not a lot of chemistry, but still regular sex, as “less healthy”?

    As a general definition, “chemistry” is a nebulous conglomerate of passion, attraction, interpersonal interaction, and other factors.

    “Chemistry” can be reduced by declining attraction: fat wife, unmasculine husband, etc. Likewise, it can be reduced by the ‘same old routine.’ Contraception affects attraction, hormones, and lots of stuff too. Variety can reduce it (namely, pre-marital sex, many sex partners, etc.) as it negatively affects expectations, pair bonding, and everything like that.

    It’s a complex interplay between a lot of factors, and even things like physical aging in women for men are blunted by things like the ‘wife goggles.’

    Ideally, these things should be present indefinitely and actually potentially increase as the trust in the relationship increases. Wives, such as Elspeth who commented in this thread, have said that they still have the hots for their husbands.

    Just like Christians are supposed to become more and more like Christ in our walks, husbands and wives should become more as one as time goes on.

  6. Michael Kozaki

    Very good post. My thoughts:

    1) You forgot the fourth love: Storgē. Family love. Telling, this!
    2) No Storge? No Eros/Phileo/Agape. We learn them (or not) in family.
    3) Marriage grows via babies & Storgē. Lack either, hard times ahead.
    4) Women drool at babies like men at a HB10. Carry one & see.
    5) Marriage without 3+ children = Darwinian DNA FAIL.
    6) Marriage without religious tribe = Darwinian tribal FAIL.
    7) Proper diet & BMI a non-negotiable must for strong marriage & family.

    DS & KMan – classic comments. Money quotes:

    DS, “chemistry” a nebulous conglomerate of passion, attraction, interpersonal

    KMan, wonder if this mechanism is why so many marriages fail

  7. Marriages don’t fail because of *chemistry*. Chemistry in marriage is a good thing, not something to disdain. The problem is that people mistake the normal ebbs of marriage as some sign of doom.

    Even marriages with good chemistry experience occasional ebbs.although of less duration and far less dramatic than what some people seem to go through.

    It really does come down to commitment.

    By the way, MK: We are acquainted with several Catholic families through our homeschool group and we have more kids than EVERY Catholic family there. In fact every family with 4 or more kids in our relatively large (80 family) group is Protestant, not Catholic. Just sayin’.

    But I do agree that large broods make for stability- but if there is anything we learned from the Duggars (and a real life family we know, not to mention the Bible recounts) there is a point of diminishing returns if there isn’t enough supports in place to keep a sharp eye on all the kids’ development.

  8. “Marriages don’t fail because of *chemistry*. Chemistry in marriage is a good thing, not something to disdain. The problem is that people mistake the normal ebbs of marriage as some sign of doom.”

    No, the problem is that many times, “chemistry” isn’t there to begin with on one side or the other. You can’t create chemistry (attraction) where it doesn’t exist. It’s either there, or it isn’t. The raw materials either are there to create the “chemical reaction”, or they’re not.

  9. Michael Kozaki

    Elspeth, Modern RC pick their own doctrines (e.g., are protestant). Ask if they think birth control is a moral sin. This is old news.

    …diminishing returns if there isn’t enough supports in place to keep a sharp eye on all the kids’ development.

    USA GDP: 1950: 2T. 2015: 18T with 1/2 kids.
    Clearly 1950s simpletons got “diminishing returns”for kids? I call bullsh*t.

    The real reason less kids? Same as abortion. Kids get in the way of my individualism. “We don’t have kids…for the kids!” Funny.

    The USA is the richest country in the history of humanity. We average 1.8 kids. But it’s for the children! God laughs.

  10. @ Michael

    I don’t believe that Storgē is ever mentioned in Scripture anywhere. I find *that* telling. On the one hand, we are told to honor mother and father, and on the other, to let the dead bury the dead. I don’t think that Storgē is something that is needed by Christians.

  11. @DS

    As a general definition, “chemistry” is a nebulous conglomerate of passion, attraction, interpersonal interaction, and other factors.

    Yes, it’s very nebulous, which is why I restricted my definition to hormonal attraction. But passion and attraction are fairly nebulous too.

    What is known is that a bunch of hormones and neurochemicals are present during the process of pair bonding. You’ve got your standard ones like dopamine and adrenaline but there’s also oxytocin, phenylethylamine and maybe vasopressin. Probably others too. I’ve tried to find information about the levels of these chemicals at various stages of (human) relationships but good data seems impossible to find.

    In any case, while physical attractiveness (being in good shape, conventionally attractive) is helpful, I don’t think we can yet rule out the concept I raised which is that there are levels of hormones/chemicals present at the start of a relationship which simply cannot ever return to those levels.

  12. “I don’t think that Storgē is something that is needed by Christians.”

    It isn’t. We’re told to leave our fathers and mothers to follow Christ. We’re told to “hate” our families if that’s necessary to be good disciples (“hate” meaning to leave behind, to avoid, to remove from our lives, to refrain from giving undue time and attention). Clearly Christians aren’t called to “storge”.

  13. Clearly 1950s simpletons got “diminishing returns”for kids? I call bullsh*t.

    LOL. Myths run the rhetoric here in the alt. right. There was NEVER a time in recorded American history when most families had more than 4 kids. 2-4 was always the norm, closer to 3. Even 4 was unusual, which tells me that couples figured some things out before The Pill. I just went and ran the numbers at a few sites, and we have out-bred the average couple from as far back as 1900!

    But for clarification, let me reiterate what I said about diminishing returns. I am all for large families. I came from one myself and even with some of the very hard stuff, the good outweighed the bad. My point was not that lots of children is a bad thing, else we wouldn’t have had 5. What I said was this:

    there is a point of diminishing returns if there isn’t enough supports in place to keep a sharp eye on all the kids’ development.

    I stand by that. Our culture doesn’t have the extended family, church, community support, or even enough trustworthy people in most of the three to keep the kind of eye on kids so that a family can have that many kids and grow healthy productive individuals without playing helicopter parent. Helicopter parenting, I might add, stunts the growth of healthy, productive individuals anyway.

    Agree that Storge isn’t necessary in the Christian economy or marriage, but like chemistry, it’s valuable if you have it.

  14. Michael Kozaki

    DG, I don’t believe that Storgē is mentioned in Scripture. I find *that* telling. I don’t think Storgē is needed by Christians

    Family was tight then; extended families norm. Pagans had no issues with Storge (only Agape). As Jesus said, “even unbelievers do this”. Why would Storge (or abortion or feminism) get mentioned?

    But I’ve baffled any Christian might think we “don’t need Storge”. It’s so basic, we can’t get close to Agape without going thru it. We moderns are so backwards we think we don’t even need the basics (look at our families for proof), Waving at “Christian” or “Agape” or “bible” merely conflates the issue. Culture dominates, Cult follows.

    Elspeth, point of diminishing returns if there isn’t enough supports in place to keep a sharp eye on all the kids’ development.

    I don’t disagree IF this was an accurate description of the USA situation. But it’s not. My point: we arranged our lives to lack family support. We want it that way. It feeds our individualism and our families suffer.

    I’m NOT claiming 1950 was awesome. I merely use them as contrast: they had 1/9 of our wealth & twice our 1.8 kids (3.6). Under your view, their kids would show “diminished returns” compared to us. Who believes that?

    My point: to hear the wealthiest people in history even whisper about lack of “support” for our children? Whoa. God won’t be mocked.

  15. Well Michael, babies born in 1950 turned 18 in 1968, so…the greatest generation they were not. Either way, you missed my meaning about diminishing returns.

    What I meant was that when you have mom and dad carrying the full brunt of the child raising load, with no support, for mom during the day (in the form of grandma, church mothers, etc.) at beyond about 6 children, it gets a wee bit harder to really have a good grasp on the kids’ development, tendencies, and proclivities because of being stretched too thin. You can miss things that it would be harder to miss with a smaller group.

    Again, do NOT take this to mean that I am disparaging large families. I am not. What I am saying is that this culture (however it came to be and whether or not we arranged it that way) is one where even those of us who don’t like it have to put up with it to some degree. And it affects the ability to parent effectively.

    My half baked attempt to bring this back around to the OP: A strong marriage where the kids know that mom and dad have strong and true affection for one another goes a very long way to laying a good foundation for their own marriages, even if mom and dad didn’t parent perfectly. At least that’s what we’re banking on, because compared to most Internet accounts and standards, we’re falling way short, LOL..

  16. There was NEVER a time in recorded American history when most families had more than 4 kids. 2-4 was always the norm, closer to 3. Even 4 was unusual, which tells me that couples figured some things out before The Pill.

    Yes, but keep in mind you’re talking about the national average. If you concentrate on the mostly agricultural smaller towns and villages, and farms, which the Alt Right tends to emphasize, as far as I can tell, as the foundation of Western civilization, you’ll propably find that 4 or even more was indeed the norm.

    Our culture doesn’t have the extended family, church, community support, or even enough trustworthy people in most of the three to keep the kind of eye on kids so that a family can have that many kids and grow healthy productive individuals without playing helicopter parent.

    A high fertility rate is necessary for all that good stuff in the first place. Extended families only exist when marriages produce 3-5 children. And you need to have a community for community support to exist, and communities aren’t built by nuclear families with 2 children. That’s not enough. You basically need boatloads of predominantly young, energetic and healthy people for that. That’s also necessary for churches to exist.

  17. I don’t disagree with any of what you said in principle, Hollenhund. Low fertility rates decimate the prospects of healthy community, culture, church. The results are in.

    Well I do have one quibble. Even a cursory reading of historical literature documenting the families of frontier/westward expansion America, such as Laura Ingalls Wilder or Betty MacDonald, shows that even among rural families, families of 3 or 4 kids was fairly common. Westerners have just never had very large families as a normal thing. Were there exceptions? Well of course, as there always are.

    When I made my initial comment, I was referring to families of 6 or more children. I don’t view 3 kids as a large family at all. It’s replacement level, yes. But it’s not a large family.

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