[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.