Do You Have Agape Love?

Why do you love your spouse? Because he is a good provider or has an amazing sense of humor? Because she is talented, kindhearted or generous? If your love is attached to some behavior or personality characteristic, it is a conditional love, not agape love, which is unconditional.

Many writers have written about agape love, said to be the highest, truest, most all-consuming love. Whereas the types of love called phileo (friendship) or eros (sexual) are important to a great marriage, its foundation should be the unconditional agape love, according to the book The Love Dare. In fact, the romantic and friendship aspects of a marriage are able to be enjoyed at a deeper level when agape love is present.

Unconditional, unselfish agape love is a difficult thing to strive for. It doesn’t mean you allow yourself to be mistreated or abused, or even that you shouldn’t speak up if your needs are not being met. It means you can love your spouse even when he or she is acting unlovable, or is sick, unemployed or depressed. When you are not “getting” as much as you’re “giving” (if you are keeping score as many couples unconsciously do), it’s agape love that keeps you committed to the relationship nonetheless.

Agape love isn’t destroyed by time or temperament, by rough patches or seasons of sadness, by old age or illness. Agape love is a choice to be committed come what may. Is that the kind of love you possess? Do you love your spouse, or do you love what you get from your spouse?

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5 responses to “Do You Have Agape Love?

  1. I often hear people say, “I’ve fallen into love,” or “I’ve fallen out of love,” kind of like love is something you accidentally step in and get stuck on your shoe.

    Agape love is a “choice” love, meaning you choose to love your spouse. That makes it impossible to “fall in” or “out of” love, but you choose to do one of those two things.

    Agape is a powerful word, thanks for writing about it. I do enjoy your blog. :)

  2. Agape love is the ideal… and p0ssessed ONLY by God. We, at best, may aspire to agape, but we kid ourselves to believe that we love anyone without condition. In practice, we each do have stipulations as to who we will love and how we will treat whom we love. Each one of us has biases and we discriminate against people whom we deem to be unworthy of our love and kindness. True fact, we do not love every person that we meet, nor do we genuinely care about their well-being or even who they are.

    In marriage, the ideal again is agape, but it is not the reality. The condition that we put upon our spouses is that they behave! Common deal breakers of our professed “agape” toward our spouses include rape, infidelity, incest, DV, and other such acts committed by our spouses. While these may be isolated acts with extenuating circumstances that you could forgive in light of who your spouse is, but what if these or other moral failings began to characterize that person? What if that spouse is no longer the person that you married? I could only conjecture what would be your deal breaker, but I submit that the extent of your love, even for your spouse, does have implicit conditions!

    To have completely unconditional love may be noble, but it is neither practical nor honest with oneself. Really consider, what could my spouse do as a matter of lifestyle, that would ultimately drive me away from him/her? I believe that we each have a breaking point to where our love will fail, even if we are not aware of that point. I believe that none of us is so altruistic that we can pour of ourselves into another person in perpetuity and not expect some satisfying reciprocation.

    It is no disgrace to have conditional love. Marriage itself is a form of conditional love– under the condition that you love your spouse exclusively and above all others, you commit to the person who reciprocates that love and commitment. There are social, moral, and legal priviledges to the “condition” of being married to one other person.

    Agape–”unconditional love” may be ideal, but it is not practical.

    • Concerned Mother in NC

      I couldn’t agree MORE! I trust in the Lord and his teachings…the scripture as it is presented in The Holy Bible. I do believe in forgiveness…a second chance, if you will. However, is a spouse is cheating…and not only that, but also exhibits plans to continue deceiving their partner by continuing to cheat, is not something a Christian man or woman should live with. I appreciate your post and I would love to know what pastors would say about your post. I will follow this blog and hope to gain some insight regarding what is expected by the aggrieved spouse. Doe they just lay down like a door mat and have their cheating spouse continue to treat them that way, without no recourse at all?

      • Of course not. Discuss with a professional counselor or pastor what your next steps should be. The cheating spouse needs to show remorse and and stop the offending behavior if you have the chance of rebuilding trust. Best to you.

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