Chapter 5 Just what is love anyway?

My heart is breaking.  I woke up early to news that another couple is splitting up.  It hurts so much to break up – I know!  And to prevent that from happening, I pray every person who is in a relationship, wants to be in a relationship, or is healing from a broken relationship will read my blogs, and especially this one…it is the key to marital bliss, to a love affair that marriages are meant to be, to a divine love and something I had to find.  Married or not, if you are living with each other without the “paper” you are in essence “married” and our experiences could be beneficial.

In my last blog post, I introduced the topic of marital love.  The word “love” has so many connotations in our culture.  After our divorce, I felt so miserable, how did we lose the love we once had?  What was love anyway?  How do you stay in love?  I loved being married, but my marriage lost its love.

Being a trained investigator by profession and training, I was going to figure this love thing out! I love to do research, so I found the perfect source, being a Christian, it was in the Bible!  And the supplemental book I used, which comes straight from the Bible, was a book written by Ed Wheat, M.D. and Gloria Oakes Perkins. I am going to quote directly from several pages in Chapter 5 that clearly explains love, or rather, the five facets of love!

You see, marital love is not just a simple act or emotion.  It is a range of actions and a range of emotions.  The GREAT news is that you will experience what I call “divine” love (and I now have it in my life) when all these are in place (and trust me, it is not hard to allow these all to flourish in your relationship – buy the book if you need help in restoring your love).  As Dr. Wheat started the book out and states later, after these quotes, marriage was designed to be a love affair!

Directly from “Love Life for Every Married Couple – How to fall in love, stay in love, rekindle your love”:  Chapter Five: Ways of Loving, picking up on page 63 through 68:

You cannot pick and choose the kind of love you prefer and discard the others.  Each builds on the other. Each has its own special, significant place, as you will find when you begin putting all these loves into practice in your marriage.  But if they are quite distinctive, they are also interrelated so that the physical, emotional, and spiritual processes overlap  and reinforce each other in the act of loving.

The first facet of love we will consider is suggested by a Greek word the Bible never calls love. However, it describes a very important aspect of the love affair between a husband and wife. This word is epithumia, a strong desire of any kind – sometimes good, sometimes bad. It means to set the heart on; to long for, rightfully or otherwise; or it can mean to covet. When used in the Bible in a negative way, it is translated lust. When used in a positive way, it is translated desire, and this is the meaning we refer to. In marriage, husband and wife should have a strong physical desire for each other that expresses itself in pleasurable sexual lovemaking.

Sex is not the most important aspect of your relationship, but it is a definite indicator of the health of your marriage.  If tension exists in other areas of your life, it will usually show up in your sex life. On the other hand, if you have no sexual closeness, your total relationship may be affected as a result. Sometimes your sexual responders are turned off because of various pressures of problems.  This is not uncommon and can, in almost every case, be remedied.  Even while you are trying to work out other problem areas of your relationship, you can learn physical  communication together and experience mutual pleasure in your sexual life, so that restoring and building sexual desire becomes and important part of the whole experience of falling in love with your mate….The facet of love known as physical desire should never be ignored in a marriage.

The next aspect of love to be discussed comes from a familiar Greek word that does not appear in the New Testament, although its Hebrew counterpart is used in the Old Testament. I (Dr. Ed Wheat) am speaking of eros, the love that, more than any other kind carries with it the idea of romance. We might think of eros as totally fleshly because of our English word “erotic,” but this is not the case.  Eros is not always sensual, but it includes the idea of yearning to unite with and the desire to possess the beloved. Eros is romantic, passionate, and sentimental. It is often the starting point for marriage, being the kind of love that lovers fall into and write songs and poetry about.  It has been called rapture … exquisite  pleasure … strong, sweet and terrifying because it is so all-absorbing.  (My noteIs this why many do not want to commit to marriage?)

Eros has a problem, however.  It needs help because it is changeable and cannot last a lifetime all by itself.  Eros wants to promise that the relationship will last forever, but Eros cannot keep that promise alone.

At this point, we need to draw a line between foolish temporary infatuations and the true romantic love to be found in a God-designed marriage. Infatuation has been defined as an emotional and fleshly response to false impressions or mere externals of another that have been overvalued or lusted after.  By contrast, genuine falling in love is a spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical response to the actual character and total being of another who embodies attributes long sought and admired.

Eros love, when enjoyed in the lasting context of Christian marriage, offers wonderful emotions and personal rewards that are the gift and creation of God Himself.  This kind of love is wholly emotional and cannot be summoned at will, but it appears as a sure response when all the other loves of marriage are set in motion. You will experience eros love in a rich, mature, particularly joyous form when you have mastered the art of loving. More than any other kind of love, eros transforms a mundane black and white existence into glorious living Technicolor. It is a delightful part of the love-life designed for marriage.

The third love of marriage, characterized by the Greek word, storge, could be described as a comfortable old-shoe relationship comprised of natural affection.  It meets the need we all have to belong, to be part of a close-knit relationship. The New Testament commands us in Romans 10:12 which tells us to ‘Be kindly affectionate to one another….’  It can also be considered a soothing and healing. Emotional refuge.  The marriage lacking this is like a house without a roof, where rain can pour in.  (My note:  I love growing older with Bill for aging is not fun!  And I am sensing as we get older, we really appreciate this love as our bodies begin  to fail and we are not spring chickens anymore! Just saying….)

The fourth love of marriage is described by the Greek verb phileo, which often appears in the New Testament.  We will be using the verb form as a noun in this discussion because it is the more familiar term for readers.  Phileo cherishes and has tender affection for the beloved, but always expects a response.  It is a love of relationship – comradeship, sharing, communication, friendship.  While eros makes lovers, phileo makes dear friends who enjoy closeness and companionship. They share each other’s thoughts, feelings, attitudes, plans, and dreams-the most intimate things they would share with no one else.  They also share time and interests. A marriage without phileo will be unsatisfactory even if there is plenty of passion in the bedroom. A marriage with phileo is sure to be interesting and rewarding….

Moving from the physical to the spiritual in considering the five ways of loving, I have saved the best for last:  agape, the totally unselfish love that has the capacity to give and keep on giving without expecting in return. Agape values and serves in contrast to phileo, which cherishes and enjoys.  The New Testament often speaks of agape, for it was this love that prompted Christ to come to earth as a man on our behalf. God loves all mankind with an agape love. In addition, He has phileo love for those who are in relationship with Him through  Jesus Christ.

Agape love is of particular significance to those who are right now trying to save their marriage and to restore the love you lost. Of all the loves, agape is the one you can bring into your marriage immediately, because it is exercised as a choice of your will and has no dependence on feelings.  It is a love of action, not emotion.  It focuses on what you do and say rather than how you feel.

C.S. Lewis showed the difference between agape and the natural loves by using the picture of a garden. He described the natural loves as a garden that would soon run to weeds if left alone. This is inevitable because of  self-centeredness, willfulness, and the other sins resulting from the Fall. Agape love acts as the rakes, hoes, shears, plant food, and weed  killer employed by a skilled gardener to keep the garden thriving, orderly and  beautiful. When God planted the garden of our nature and caused the flowering, and fruiting loves to grow there, He set our will to tend them, to watch over them and care for them as a wise gardener should. This operation of the will is agape love–a knowledgeable and skillful love always concerned with doing what is best for the beloved.

A marriage possessing agape love can survive anything!  It is agape that keeps a marriage going when the natural loves falter and die….”

I hate to stop writing this and I hope I have wetted your appetite for more from this book!  It under $12.00 from either this Christian Book website or Amazon. It is a real bargain for the returns it promises. I am not being paid to say any of this. My motive for promoting this book? I found the cure for cancer so to speak, cancer in loveless marriages. Why not promote the cure that I received for a mere few bucks?

Every marriage would benefit from a refresher course on how to keep your love alive and flourishing! We love what we now have; and, our first 13 years were lacking several of these facets. We thank God, we had enough left that we could once again fall in love, had our love rekindled and now we are staying in love!

So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.” Matthew 19:6


Next up: Chapter 6 What destroys marriages – or at least destroyed ours?

Chapter 4 Love Life for EVERY Married Couple!

“We’ve had bumpy roads?” my husband Bill asked after reading one of my recent blog posts.  He looked  serious and a bit hurt!  “Of course, no marriage is perfect! I want to be honest about our marriage, share the good, the bad and the ugly!  But mostly how our love helps us over the bumpy roads and gets us back on a smooth road!”

We have been married since 1975 – I know, a long time ago. Some reading this were not even  born. Wow, it was last century! However, we had a “break in service,” meaning, we divorced for a year! Miracle of miracles, we were able to reconcile after a very contentious and heart breaking divorce. We hurt each other deeply but we experienced the cleansing power of forgiveness, bathed in the blood of our Lord and Savior’s death on the cross. We literally felt we were standing at the foot of the cross when we forgave each other.  In just a few minutes, we went from absolute hatred to forgiveness and feeling love towards each other! But alas, it took me (Debbie) seven months to agree to re-marry. God had a lot of work to do in my heart.

Today, I want to write more about love! After our divorce, I set out to find God’s perfect will for my daughter and me. I honestly believed it was Bill’s fault we were so far from God and that is what broke up our relationship.  I will blog later how God not only saved me for eternity, but He saved my physical life from an early demise. Suffice it to say, I had every reason to follow our Lord and live a life pleasing to Him.  But I did not. I fell into awful sin and made some bad choices. In His grace, He protected me and today, I can’t fall away from Him! I am hanging on tightly, needing to hear His voice every day (daily Bible reading), and needing to worship (I listen to praise and worship music as much as I can) Him every day! While I am not perfect, I pray that I am now living a life pleasing to Him!

As soon as I read 1 Corinthians 7:10-11, I KNEW I had to reconcile with Bill.

To the the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband.  But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband much not divorce his wife.”

But first, I needed to find out love was all about! I was an investigator by nature and in my profession. I soon discovered God is love (1 John 4:8 “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love). I didn’t love Bill anymore, so I asked God to love him through me – and did He ever! So what does that look like? I knew my love was growing, but what was it (love)? Because of my profession, I like to see, feel and touch something to know what it is!

And what I was reading in this wonderful book pictured, gave me what I needed.  It is straight from the author of marriage, our God and creator, from His Word to us. I’ll print some excerpts, remembering when we first read the book as we began to reconcile.

I remember clearly when we read Chapter 5 (Love Life for EVERY Married Couple: How to fall in love, stay in love, rekindle your love by Ed Wheat, MD and Gloria Perkins). He was so excited that he was learning all about marriage. He especially liked this chapter and while we were reconciling, we read it together and it became our marriage manual.

In the “Acknowledgement” section of the book, Dr. Wheat acknowledged the role Gloria Perkins played in writing the book.  He said, “She and her husband Dan enjoy a love-filled Christian marriage that teaches by experience how enriching the emotion of love can be, and it is their desire as well as ours, to help others find a life of love.” It is also our desire….So continuing with the excerpts:

Excerpting sections, starting at page 61:  “The English word love has to be one of the most unusual words in our language.  It’s supposedly packed with meaning, yet it seems inadequate when you really want to say something.  So much so that Edgar Allan Poe wrote, ‘We loved with a love that was more than love.’  The word is overworked.  Some dictionaries list as many as twenty-five meanings for love, and we’re apt to use them all in our everyday conversation.

“Just having one word for everything leads to confusion and absurd comparisons.  For example, we love our lifelong sweetheart.  But we also love fried chicken or quiche lorraine, this comparing our marriage partner of thirty years to a French cheese pie.  We love our parents and our children.  But we also love books or football or skiing vacations, apparently putting Mom and  Dad on par with a weekend at Vail, or little Johnny in a competition with the Dallas Cowboys.  We love freedom, surely a thing more precious than the shining machine in the driveway.  But we love that new car; we also love our pet cat and a certain record album (this book was written in 1980, before the DVD) we bought last week.  Not only do we love Jesus Christ, King of Kings and Lord of Lords, but we ‘just love Robert Redford’ – or Bob Hope.  It all adds up to careless talk and sometimes, fuzzy thought….”

Page 62  …“in writing a book about love in marriage, we can call upon the precise language of the  Greek New Testament for help. One expert pointed out, “Greek is a very subtle language, full of delicately modifying words, capable of the finest distinctions of meaning.” The Greeks of the New Testament era had at least five words that we can use to distinguish and describe the various  aspects of love in marriage.

“As I (Dr. Wheat) gives you these five Greek words and their meaning in marriage, remember that this is not a language exercise, but a practical explanation of what love-life in marriage should be when love is finding its full expression in the relationship.”

Continuing on page 63 “By the way, there can be no such thing as window shopping here. You cannot pick and choose the kind of love you prefer and discard the others. Each builds on the other. Each has its own special, significant place, as you will find when you begin putting all these loves into practice in your marriage. But if they are quite distinctive, they are also interrelated so that the physical, emotional, and spiritual processes over-lap and reinforce each other in the act of loving.”

Dr. Wheat was an OB-GYN doctor and a Christian. He began to notice a pattern in his practice and he shared the greatest aspect of life – a couple bringing a child into this world. He saw the absolute joy in his patients faces as they gave birth, only to recall times of these patients sharing how confused they were about their marriages. After the babies where born, he also learned how many women struggled to remain married. He had other couples confide in him, even seasoned missionaries and couples who normally would not tell a person of the lack of love in their marriage. He realized God gave him more than a medical practice. He had to find  a way to help these couples! The result was that his practice evolved into marriage counseling and after years, this book was born! And we are so glad it was!  I will share what those five,  interrelated aspects are, how they bring together the physical, emotional processes together and how they over-lap.

And how each reinforces each other in the act of loving!  These were the first steps in our marriage becoming one of love-filled Christian marriage. Up next are the FIVE aspects of love to make a complete marriage, to rekindle a love lost, or to fire up a new love! 

I also want to share Bill’s ultimate secret to marriage (at least at this stage in his life as it will evolve over time)He wraps it all up in one word:  CHOICE! We choose to love, we choose to stay married, we choose to get along….it really is our choice. Just like our God, He wants us to choose to love Him!  That is all Bill really wants (or wanted) from me.  But poor guy, he was married to a professional investigator!  I would never make a choice without all the FACTS!!!  The next blog post, What is love anyway?

As we say in law enforcement, “Just the facts ma’am.  That’s all we want.”

Next up: Chapter 5: Just what is love anyway?