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Love is a very powerful emotion. It motivates much of our lives. We make many important decisions based on this emotion, and even get married because we feel that we are "in love." This may be the ...
" How can I know if I am in love?" There is a question you must know the answer to before you can answer this, and that is - what type of love? English only has one word for love, which doesn't help the issue. Greek has four. A good marraige will have all four of these loves. 1 - Agape love: Selfless or sacrificial love. "Love is patient, love is kind.. (1 Cor 13:4-7)" Agape love gives of itself, and is unconditional. It is not contingent on the other persons behavior. How do you know if you are loving with agape (Whether to a spouse or a neighbor)?: If you seek to honor them before yourself. When they do something wrong, you seek to reconcile and forgive. You do not seek to harm them, and you do not demand that they change or fix themselves. You leave their spiritual growth in God's hands, and seek instead to find ways to edify them, to show your care, and to help them. "What can I do today to make their day better?" exemplifies the mindset of agape, vs. Things like "what can they do for me?" We should love everyone with agape love! At least, that's the ideal. It will be 'easier' to love those who love you back, but the principal of agape is to love the unloveable and to love even when people are cruel. As such, we love not just our family, friends, spouse, church brethren, etc - but the widows, orphans, our enemies, rivals, and so forth. 2 - storge love: Storge love is familial love. We have this in our relationship with God the father, Christ our brother, with our brothers and sisters in Christ, with our own families, with close friends and mentors that take on 'second family' relationships, and eventually with the spouse/family we will unite with. 3 - eros love: Chemistry, horomones, erotic desire. Eros love is important inside of a marraige, but can be easily corrupted into wrongful lusts outside of it (even for dating couples). There are more reasons to avoid deliberately cultivating eros before marriage than the risk of falling into sin, however - Chemistry is the weakest bond of the four loves. Marriages with a foundation of chemistry are far more likely to divorce (even among Christians). A fuzzy period of horomones & hearts & butterflies sets in when a couple starts dating called the 'honeymoon period'. This can last up to a year. If a couple spends a lot of time alone, or encourages these feelings, then they are likely to be viewing each other through the illusion of endorphins and hormones. The honeymoon feelings help them overcome stressful situations with a lot more grace than they usually would, and put their best foot forward in general. To add to the false and inflated view of each other, people naturally get a social boost to charm, boldness, and wit when being introduced to someone for the first time. Here is an example of eros love (before marraige): Imagine then, two people that start dating shortly after they meet, having never seen each other outside of one situation prior to that (perhaps they know each other from school or church). The honeymoon period kicks in, and suddenly they can do no wrong. They each put the other on a pedestal and are enraptured with their new girlfriend/boyfriend. Hearts all around! Everyone can see by their lovey-dovey gushing and flirting that they are perfect for each other. They start introducing each other to friends and family, and again they come with their best game-face. What could go wrong? [This, in fact, is the worlds view of what love is- a hyper-horomonal set of feelings]. At six months they are engaged and six months later they are married. Then, the feelings begin to fade. They can't understand why they can't recapture 'the spark'. They settle in to a somewhat unhappy marriage with a statistically high rate of divorce. Conversely, those that wait until marriage to actively encourage eros (there will be some natural development before hand) will not have the problem of basing their romance on fluctuating hormones/ basing their marriage on the weak link of chemistry. 4) Phileo love - friendship, brotherly affection, mutual affection Marriages that either started with friendship, or are committed to cultivating friendship along with romance, are far less likely to divorce than marriages blown about by the shifting tides of eros. We have (or should have) affection for friends and for fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. How then, do you know if you are really, truly in love (as far as, ready to commit to marriage?). This is actually the easiest part - you *choose* to love them! Preferabbly, you will already have a strong phileo love with this person. (If not, such as an arranged marraige - start nurturing phileo love). Then, you nuture agape love and phileo love day by day. After marriage, you can nurture storge and phileo as well. Some eros and storge will naturally develop along the way - this isn't bad, just don't feed it or get distracted by it into making bad decisions. All four loves need to be working together to make a marriage. If it's only one sided (such as just loving someone because they remind you of your dad (storge), or loving them because of the fluttery excitement you feel when you are around them (eros), then the relationship is unhealthy and may even fail.
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