My wife Georgia and I have been married for just over thirty years, and I can honestly tell you that our marriage continues to improve as we go. We’ve only grown closer and more intimate as we have gone through the ups and downs of life. Looking back one of the key elements in our marriage was the way we went looking for our soulmate-the lens that we looked through to find the right person. This lens can simplify a process that seems overwhelmingly complicated to the average single person.
The Greek language doesn’t have one word for love, it has three, and these three words created the lens through which we searched for each other. “Phileo” is deep and natural friendship – a companionship that’s easy because value systems are similar, and interests overlap. “Eros” is sexual or bodily love. And “agape” is burden-bearing love: the hard and self-sacrificial aspect of love.
So when we’re looking for our soulmate, it makes sense that we first ought to look for someone who’s a good and natural, friend. About 80% of your time in marriage is spent being friends – two companions making their way through this world together. But I know many people that marry someone who isn’t a natural friend, and spend the rest of their lives wondering why marriage is so tough. Well, it’s a lot easier if you marry someone who’s compatible with your temperament, and your value system. You’re looking for someone with whom it’s easy to “phileo”.
Secondly we need someone to whom we are physically and emotionally attracted to. Sexuality in marriage is extremely important, and we need the desire to sleep with our spouse a lot. This seems as obvious as the nose on our face, but you’d be surprised how often people marry someone who’s a friend only, and believe that ‘something magic’ will happen to bring sexual vitality into the relationship. Again, we need to find someone to whom we are deeply attracted to on a physical level because “eros” is vital and wonderful.
The third part of the lens is the burden-bearing aspect. Everyone has aspects of their character (and the wounds they carry) that make life difficult for those around them. But when I said “I do” to Georgia, it meant that I committed myself to bear those burdens as long as we live. Well, it might be best to marry someone whose burdens aren’t too burdensome for you. Some types of burdens you can bear – others will drive you crazy. You can’t lie to yourself about this or you will be buried under the demands of “agape”.
If you step back and think about it for a moment, these three Greek words essentially define marriage. My spouse is the only person with whom I engage in deep friendship, intense sexuality and lifelong burden-bearing. And when you’re looking for “that person” you’re simply trying to maximize the first two and minimizing the last one- for both of you.
~ Submitted by Todd Priestley