In English, there's pretty much just one word for love. But many other languages have several different words for love, and they all mean something a little different.
The Greek language distinguishes four different kinds of love: Philia, Eros, Storge and Agape.
They all have a beautiful description of different kinds of love, and understanding each is a sure way to help spouses improve their relationships. Compartmentalizing love into different categories will help you to examine yourself and determine if you're showing your sweetheart enough love.
This word describes the type of love found in strong friendships. In relationships with philia, affection and support abounds, as well as a sense of equality.
This type of love is SO important in marriages- you should be each other's best friends and treat each other as equal partners. When you're not just their spouse but also their friend, marriage is much more full of fun and laughter. Friends feel great affection for each other and support each other in goals and decisions big and small.
C.S. Lewis describes this love as "the least natural of loves," because the human race by no means needs friendly relationships to survive. In other words, we're not hardwired biologically or instinctively to seek friendships.
Though we're not as predisposed to have philia, there's no doubt it's presence between spouses makes marriage so much better. So choose to be friends among other things with your spouse, and make an effort to have philia for each other.
This word describes the type of love found in romantic relationships (think "erotic"). Relationships with eros contain passion and intimacy. The best phrase in English to equal eros is "being in love," and it's probably the first type of love that comes to mind when you think of your spouse.
Though some might mistakenly put lust into the same category as eros, they're not the same things. Lust is not love in any way- it's the equivalent to 'wanting a woman', while eros is equivalent to wanting just one woman in particular.
This type of love is an especially relevant reminder to those couples who have let passion and intimacy die down over time. While married couples aren't able to truly return to the honeymoon phase, keeping that intimate flame alight will strengthen your bond as a couple immensely.
This word describes the type of love found in family relationships. Storge involves empathy and affection, as well as compassion.
Once you got married, you graduated from just lovers and friends to family as well. United as spouses, you've formed your own family and all the features that come along with that type of relationship.
Once kids come into play, this type of love takes up more of the spotlight. He's your husband, but he's also your children's father, and vice versa. Storge means working together as parents to raise the best family you can and support each other as father and mother.
This type of love is, perhaps, the most important in any marriage. It describes selfless, unconditional love. Some describe it as God-like or Christ-like love.
It's critical that spouses have charity for each other and love one another no matter what. Unconditional love means your bond is so strong that you love each other not despite of mistakes but the whole person, flaws and all.
When it comes to marriage bliss, selflessness is the key. Spouses who are selfless in their dealings with each other will not only make their loved one happier, but they'll make themselves happier as well. Even small acts of kindness for each other will go a long way.
Marriage is unique in love
The beautiful thing about marriage is that we don't show anyone but our spouse all four types of love. Sure, you probably have Philia and Agape for your best friends, Storge and Agape for your mom, and maybe even Eros in past relationships. But your spouse is the only person you'll ever feel companionate, passionate, familial and selfless love for all at once.
Be sure to not let one or more types of love falter in your relationship, and don't take for granted the special, unique loves you share for your spouse.