A question that comes up often in counseling is “Can I be happy with the person I love if I do not feel sexually attracted to them?” The Greek word for sexual love is “Eros” and that kind of love is based on feelings. We all remember what our first crush was like and all the feelings that were going on in our bodies. It was pretty exciting. The problem with that is, that kind of love is dependent on feelings. What happens when that goes away and our spouse is no longer attractive to us? What is left?
Another form of love is “Agape” love. It is the kind of love we show someone even when they do not deserve it. We love them because of who we are, not for who they are. It is a kind of selfless love.
Agape love is not given out of how we feel, but given out of our will. It is sacrificial, like the love that Jesus has for us. When we were still sinners, He died for us; Romans 5:8. It is an action type of love.
The third form of love is “Phileo” love. This type of love is the kind we have for our closest friends. When we say my spouse is my closest friend then we love them with Phileo love. You love them with a strong emotional connection. You can show #Agape love to your enemies, but you cannot love them with Phileo love. When we love our friends with Phileo love we will stick by them through the hardest of times.
The fourth kind of love is called #“Storge” love and it is the kind of love between a parent and child, siblings and hopefully between husband and wife. It is a deep love that connects family and gets us through the tough times. That is why when there is strife in a family, it is so destructive. It tears us apart emotionally and we can have feelings of betrayal, abandonment and rejection. It can affect our entire life. When children do not get the proper nurturing from their parents and are abandoned at a young age it can affect the way they see relationships for the rest of their lives. Recognizing it and getting help can heal the deep wounds.
Being physically attracted to your spouse with “Eros” love is great, but that is not what is going to keep you together when the tough times come. A much deeper love is needed for a successful relationship and that takes time to develop and foster. That is why it is so important to make your relationship a priority and spend quality time together often. Staying connected takes energy and needs to be done with purpose. It does not just happen.
Initially we can be physically attracted to someone, but only in spending time with them and getting to know them does a deeper love start developing. My husband and I have been married for almost 32 years and the attraction we have for each other is much deeper than physical. We are committed and we both do the work to take care of ourselves so we can be a good spouse. We say to each other, “You take care of you for me and I will take care of me for you.” We have been through some really tough times and if we had not had, Agape, Phileo, and Storge love, I am pretty sure we would not be together.
Love your spouse well and treat them with love and respect. If you are in an abusive relationship and that includes emotional and verbal abuse, then seek help. If you are struggling in your relationship then ask for help and seek therapy. It is one of the best things you can do for your marriage.
Vickie Parker, LMFT
vickiemft.com, Online Counseling