Four Loves That Build A Marriage
Struggling to get motivated for another Valentine’s Day?
Day-to-day realities of married life can test even the best of intentions to keep up the emotional excitement of romance. But genuine marital love is a multi-dimensional marvel — and romance is just one type of love that sustains a lifelong marriage.
So let yourself breathe. Take a step back from the false pressure of manufactured affection, and focus on the many loves that are part of a well-rounded marriage.
Four loves that build a marriage
Think of marriage as a house, with four kinds of love that represent the basic building blocks. If anyone of the components is missing, the house is incomplete.
- Unconditional love. This is the foundation. When a realtor writes a house listing, he rarely comments on the foundation. But that’s the first place the inspector looks to determine the home’s longevity. In a similar way, unconditional love provides stability for a lasting marriage covenant. It gives without expecting anything in return. It’s agape love, the self-sacrificial love that Christ demonstrated on the cross.
- Companionship love. This is the frame of the house. Strong communication, shared activities, laughter, and tears provide a safe structure where a couple’s love can grow. In fact, most happily married couples describe themselves as best friends. As the passionate bride in Song of Solomon says of her husband, “This is my beloved and this is my friend” (Song of Solomon 5:16, ESV).
- Romantic love. Think of this as the roof. It’s supported by unconditional love and companionship love; romantic love can’t stand without them. Romantic love is a direct response to and celebration of the qualities of the loved one: beauty, charm, strength, tenderness. It’s characterized by emotional excitement and intimacy.
- Sexual love. This can be symbolized by the furnishings of the house — what makes a home luxurious. It’s the physical union between husband and wife. Sexual love is praised and exalted in Scripture where the writer urges a young man to “rejoice in the wife of your youth, a lovely deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love” (Proverbs 5:19, ESV).
When romance fades
If the roof leaks, you don’t abandon a house; you make the necessary fixes. In the same way, if romance has faded in your marriage, put in the work to renew it:
- Set aside a regular date night, even if it means paying a babysitter. (Try these conversation starters.)
- Be creative about how you show affection to each other. Embrace your unique love story.
But remember that God’s design for your marriage includes all four loves, each in its right place. Don’t damage your house by expecting the roof of romantic love to support more than it’s designed to bear.
Want to dig deeper? Read You and Me Forever and The Meaning of Marriage, and listen to Focus on the Family’s broadcast “Building Your Marriage to Last a Lifetime.