From the Greek language we understand there are different types of love (Eros, Phileo, Agape…). In contemporary language we interpret and understand these as different components of love and they all have their place in our marriage relationships. Agape love can be described as committed, benevolent, or good will. If you’ve been in marriage counseling with me you recall that we’ve discussed this components of Agape love your relationship; especially in how we communicate with one another. We strive to love each other unconditionally. Nevertheless we can interpret what or how we speak to each other and subsequently misunderstand each other when what we hear or say is filtered by our own more selfish assumptions. When I find myself irritated in my marriage and I take a closer look at what I’m thinking and feeling, I find that I have a selfish expectations. That is the complete opposite of Agape love.
How do we develop this type of love? I believe there are two ways to work towards Agape love. First is that as our relationship evolves and grows in a positive direction we inherently look for the good in our spouse/partner and have an underlying assumption that they have good intentions in what they are doing and saying. It is a depth of love that grows with time and nurturing of our relationship. The second way we can develop this type of love is to be intentional; be purposeful about how we hear the intent of what our spouse says. Filter what we hear realizing they are not trying to be critical or demeaning – listen again to their statement and hear the expectation of collaboration. So, when I’m asked to take the trash out, even though I see it needs to be taken out, I don’t jump to the thought – “Why is she asking me to do this? I see it is ready to go out.” The good intention, the good will of the message is not being bossy, it is collaboration and growth in our relationship.
Try to look for the good intention in your communication with your spouse – modifying your mindset that he/she really has no ill-will in their statement will change your relationship and mood. It takes practice, and believe me, you will have many opportunities to practice.
Jeff Deckert, MA, NCC, LCMHC is a board certified, licensed clinical mental health counselor with years of experience working with individuals, adolescents, families and couples.
Through private practice, Jeff has gained extensive experience working with families and couples. He enjoys helping clients through depression, anxiety, sexual issues, grief, and relationship issues. In his work with couples, he utilizes a combination of individual and joint sessions.
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