Liking Him {Balancing Agape with Phileo Love For Our Husbands}

Liking Him

I don’t mean to brag, but it’s true. My husband really does need me. Between folding laundry, picking up around the house, and cooking up dinners that are warm and ready when my he comes home, I’m pretty sure my husband knows how much I love him. It’s obvious, right?

And then, I come to Titus 2:4, where older women are exhorted to teach younger women to love their husbands…

“So train the young women to love their husbands.”  While five different Greek words for love are used in the New Testament, and the word used here is phileo, which expresses an affectionate, passionate, tender love…it’s the love that says, “I LIKE you so much!”  Paul chose to use the word phileo here, rather than agape, which describes a sacrificial kind of love. Why? 

I don’t know about you, but I’ve got the serving part down–the laundry and his favorite dinners–but I can sometimes miss blessing my husband altogether by simply failing to communicate that I enjoy him, that I like him, that he is attractive to me. Oh how much my husband needs and desires my affection and not just my service!

What a wonderful gift it is to our husbands when we welcome them home with warm dinners and clean homes. But, perhaps we are imbalanced in our pursuit of expressing love. Perhaps, rather than offering a host of sacrificial accomplishments and acts of service, we’d do well to offer ourselves– our affection, our attention, our interest in what they are interested in– to our husbands. Perhaps, the Apostle Paul knew that we wives would struggle less with having agape love towards our husband, and more so with phileo…that our scale can easily tip away from tenderness towards our husbands.

And so…why, then, do we lose those tender thoughts and actions toward our husbands?

I love what Carolyn Mahaney says in Feminine Appeal: Seven Virtues of a Godly Wife and Mother

“The answer is very simple: Sin destroyed my tender love…If we find that our affection for our husband is waning or has subsided altogether, then we do not need to look any further than our own hearts. Where sin is present, warm affection dissipates. Anger, bitterness, criticism, pride, selfishness, fear, laziness–all vigorously oppose tender love. This love cannot survive in a heart that harbors sin.” (p. 38)

Oh, let us find encouragement and conviction in this exhortation. That we might not simply love through sacrifice, love through acts of service…

…but may we seek to root out the sin that chokes out tenderness and phileo love towards our husbands.

And in so doing, we give thanks for the perfect balance of agape and phileo love in Christ, without which we would have no example to follow and no beautiful picture of marriage to pursue. 

Because of grace,


This post is part of our series Finding Balance as a Busy Mom. 

Please check the series page for all of the posts! 

Finding Balance as a Busy Mom

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...


  1. says

    I so agree!! What our husbands truly need is for us to show them love the way THEY want it! Sometimes it’s the clean towel waiting for him when he steps out of the shower, sometimes it’s his favorite meal waiting on the table for him after a difficult day, sometimes it’s dropping everything and giving him our full attention, and sometimes it’s us waiting for him in the bedroom.

  2. D. says

    I am so thankful for the Lord’s timely response (through this specific blog post). Your words echoed the exact things He has been speaking to my heart about, but your post also touched on some areas that I need to take time and pray over. Sin is exactly what has caused my heart to become callous and to simply focus on the household duties, instead on focusing on him and his specific needs. Thanks, Ruth for always being so honest and it all comes right from God’s Living Word!!!!

    • says

      D., thank you for sharing your heart here. I am such a work in progress…and am so glad we can walk through these areas of conviction and growth together! Blessings…

  3. Leslie Heister Gulley says

    This is so well written. It is funny that this resonated with me, since I am the flip side of this coin. The service of keeping a clean home and having good and nutritious meals when my husband comes home are what I struggle with. I love spending time doing the things he enjoys, but have to remind myself that it would be more fun to do those things in a clean house and with a non-grumbly tummy. Thanks for the reminder to find the balance!

  4. Alyssaz says

    This post was very timely for me. Your words added truth and insight to my own thoughts. I think I am also going to check out that book you quoted from!

  5. Heather McCoy says

    This is the 3rd day in a row I have read this and have shared it with all my friends. So convinciting yet so full of hope to love this way. Thank you!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *