Falling in love is easy, but persevering in marriage can be challenging. In this episode, Dr. Sri explains the difference between eros and agape love, and reminds us that marriage must go beyond our own personal feelings and emotions. He offers couples four ways to move from eros to agape love in order love like Christ in marriage.
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Snippet from the Show
“If you want to grow in agape love in your marriage, you’ve got to turn to the source of agape love itself, Jesus Christ.”
What is Eros ?
Eros refers to passionate love and desire. It is experienced as the rush of emotions, the physical attractions and intense pleasure we feel in romance, especially in the beginning. It’s something that just happens to us, it’s not planned or willed and it’s easy. You don’t have to work at it, it’s simply enjoyable and pleasurable.
What is Agape?
Agape is total, committed, sustained and self-giving love. It’s a love that is committed to the good of the whole person and not what you get out of the person. It’s a love that is willing to make sacrifices for the good of the beloved. Jesus models agape love for us on when he died on the cross. Agape love requires intentionality and effort. Agape love is what the Catholic Church emphasizes and views as the higher love. We see the word eros in the Greek Old Testament only twice, while the New Testament doesn’t use it at all.
CCC 1766- “To love is to will the good of the other.”
Christ teaches us that true love goes beyond one’s own selfishness and self-centeredness. It’s not just about yielding to our passions or feeling good, true love entails denying oneself for the good of the other. While eros is not bad and certainly a natural part of marriage, it needs to be purified and transformed into agape. We should try to be more concerned with our beloved’s happiness and think less of ourselves.
Four Ways to Grow From Eros to Agape
- Keep God at the center– Always remember that your spouse will never fully satisfy you. We need to go to the source of agape love, God himself, in order to love in a self-sacrificial way. No human person can satisfy our deepest longings, only God can.
- Find time to pray– We need a prayer life. Prayer is essential in marriage, make time for at least 20 mins of silent prayer. Work together as a couple so that each person finds time for prayer.
- Turn to the sacraments– We need the graces of the sacraments to help us live agape love and overcome the trials of marriage.
- Pray for opportunities to live sacrificial love each day– Notice the opportunities around you to love the way Jesus loves. Strive to see the little difficulties and crosses in family life as opportunities to encounter Jesus and love like he does.
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- God is Love Encyclical letter by Pope Benedict XVI
- Ascension is pleased that our Catholic Community is starting to come Together Again — at our parishes, with Jesus in the Eucharist, or in small group settings where you can share and live in Christ. We invite you to explore our many resources and programs to help us all come together again.
Dr. Edward Sri is a theologian, well-known Catholic speaker, and author of several best-selling books. His work with Ascension includes study programs such as A Biblical Walk Through the Mass, No Greater Love: A Biblical Walk Through Christ’s Passion and Mary: A Biblical Walk with the Blessed Mother. Several of Dr. Sri’s programs were filmed on-site in the Holy Land, and feature immersive video explorations of the sacred sites where Jesus, Mary, and the Apostles lived and died.
Dr. Sri is the host of the acclaimed Ascension podcast All Things Catholic with Dr. Edward Sri. Together with Curtis Martin, Dr. Sri is a founding leader of the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS), of which he serves as senior vice president of Apostolic Outreach.
Dr. Sri lives with his wife Beth and their children in Colorado.