marriage bed symbol

marriage bed symbol

Friday, August 26, 2016

Love = Love? Which Kind of Love is Ludus?

In case you missed Part [1], and Philautia

Ludus is another form of love that develops early on in our families.[i] It means ‘game’ in Latin, and its hallmarks are that of being playful and fun-loving. It isn’t a deep or connected love, and is by nature non-committal; even to the point of finding commitment “scary”.
Sociologist John A. Lee (1973) in his book, “Styles of Loving” defined ludus as “a carefree and casual love that is considered fun and games. Physical appearance is less important than self-sufficiency and a non-demanding partner. 

Young children and teenagers most freely exhibit this kind of love, usually in combination with philia, or brotherly love, within their families. The characteristics of ludus can continue with us into adulthood in a healthy way if we incorporate a Christlike love along with it. We can also become stunted in our growth and ability to be in a relationship if we choose to follow its full secular definition of ludus in adulthood. 

Appropriate Forms of Ludus
If we’re using it well, ludus helps in situations where platonic friendships are more appropriate, such as among family members, friends and co-workers. We can relax and have fun with each other, without other styles of love developing that might interfere with or interrupt our committal relationships.

We can use ludus in our family to help build stronger family ties and memories. Some of our strongest relationships from our early years often involve elements of ludus. If ludus doesn’t exist in a family, the desire to want to stay near that family (either in life or in eternity) can be compromised. 

Maintaining a degree of ludic love helps us avoid emotional fusion – which is the trap of taking your marriage too seriously, or giving away your agency to your spouse to make you happy. 

The healthy side of ludus allows us to be light-hearted and optimistic even if others don’t ‘feel like it’ or are ‘not in the mood.’ A ludic lover can allow themselves to enjoy being physically intimate even if their lover can’t – for whatever reason – and receive the gift their spouse is giving them. 

“Differentiation (which is helped by ludic love) changes monogamy by returning genital ownership to each [spouse]…Monogamy is a prison when it’s based on emotional fusion…[ii]

When Ludus Becomes Dysfunctional
When the surrounding culture encourages children to move on from ludus to other forms of love before they’re ready, problems can occur, including breaking of the law of chastity. The element of non-commitment needs to be honored when the child is too young for adult stages of love.[iii] The guidelines we receive in our church can help prevent this development phase from happening too soon.[iv]

However, practicing ludus exclusively beyond the point of childhood can also go too far, when the non-committal aspects of it prevent deeper connections from being made.[v]
John A. Lee described this in the following way:

“Ludic lovers try to control their feelings and may have several lovers at one time.
They are not possessive or jealous, primarily because they don’t want lovers to be dependent on them.
Ludic lovers have sex for fun, not emotional rapport. In their sexual encounters they are typically self-centered and may be exploitive because they don’t want commitment.”[vi]

This development is where the ‘Peter Pan Syndrome’ arises from. It can be seen in young adults or more mature adults who are content with ‘hanging out’ or worse, ‘hooking up’, and marriage is never considered, for whatever reason. At its most extreme dysfunction, ludus unrestrained can lead an adult into sexual addictions.[vii]

Marriage, to those who know the Lord’s restored gospel, is an essential element of the gospel plan. It is required for salvation in the highest degrees of the Lord’s kingdom.[viii]
So for each of us, even though it may be tempting to avoid the difficulties that sometimes come with marriage and sexuality, it is a goal that we’re encouraged to prepare for and work towards. Ludus, at some point and with someone, needs to have romantic love added upon it, so that families may be formed and essential ordinance work can be received.

Is Ludus Simply a ‘Childish Thing’[ix] To Put Away?
This is not to say that ludus should be abandoned entirely as an adult. It should not. In fact, those people who see ludus as something that belongs in childhood only are putting themselves in great danger of either having their spouse commit infidelity, or committing infidelity themselves. 

 It is still a very viable and appropriate form of love to show towards others who are not intimate with us on a romantic or sexual level. It is useful for building relationships in our extended families, and amongst our children and grandchildren. I’m referring to the part of ludic love that is not jealous, possessive, or requiring another to be dependent on you.

If we never have ludus in our marriage – if everything is always serious and never fun – what happens? We exercise ludus with our friends, which many times develop into feelings of romantic love for those we are not married to. If we keep ludus in our most intimate relationship, the temptation to develop romantic love elsewhere is much less strong.[x]

Children are always watching after our examples. Showing children healthy examples of ludus in our families will increase the likelihood of their appropriate emotional development. A married couple who include some ludus in their relationship will increase the likelihood that their children will view marriage as a positive state to be in, and something to look forward to.[xi]

Developing Ludus in Marriage
The very best way to keep a marriage in a state of healthy ludus is to continue to date after marriage.[xii]

Some couples only date before marriage, thinking that the entire purpose of dating is to ‘get someone’ to marry them. Other couples cite challenges such as finances or time restraints or children, or illness as excuses to stop dating.

However, if you’re in a marriage that was a love match in the first place, ludus is part of that love. Dating is fun and exciting before marriage. Continuing to date after marriage helps bring those feelings of love and excitement back to the relationship over and over again throughout your lives and into the eternities.[xiii] 

 If your marriage isn’t a marriage that was a love match, activities that encourage ludus can help build romantic love over time.

Continuing the courtship helps to maintain all levels of love in a marriage. Plan to continue to date after marriage, or resolve to begin again if you have stopped. The benefits over time are more than worth the effort.

Next week, we’ll discuss the form of love most people in society recognize as love - Eros.

[ii] Schnarch, Dr. David. Passionate Marriage. Henry Holt and Company LLC. 1997. pg. 310-311
[iii] Taylor, Dr. Jim. The Disturbing Sexualization of Young Girls. Huffington Post. 9 Dec 2012.

[iv] See the ‘For the Strength of Youth pamphlet’ regarding ‘Dating’:
[v] Oaks, Dallin H. “Dating vs. Hanging Out’:
[vi] Lee, John A., Benokraitis, Nijole V, Marriages and Families 5th ed. Pearson Prentice Hall (2005,150)
[viii] Doctrine & Covenants 131:1-2
[ix] 1 Corinthians 13:11
[x] Harley, Willard F., Jr. The Risk of Opposite-Sex Friendships in Marriage. Marriage Builders. 1995-2006.

[xi] Brotherson, Laura. When Kids Grow Up They Want to Be…Happily Married. Strengthening Marriage. 17 Sep 2007:

[xii] McKay, David O. See comments on continuing the courtship. Teachings: David O. McKay. Experiencing Happiness in Marriage:

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Love = Love? Which kind is Philautia?

If you haven't read Part 1 yet, click here.

Philautia – Love of the Self

Philautia, or love of the self, is where we start out in life, and this kind of love is the basis for all other kinds of love, including romantic love and Christ-like love.

As infants, our self-concern is overwhelming, because it’s really all we know. We cry, and if we’re fortunate, someone answers our cry. We are hungry, and if we’re fortunate, someone is there to feed us.

But we don’t realize we’re fortunate. Not right away. And philautia is not something we come to naturally – we have to be taught how to love the self. It’s not an easy thing to do, and not something we can do without significant help from those who know how to do it.

“I have never found a man that knew how to love himself.” – Shakespeare, Othello, Act 1, Scene 3

The World’s View of Philautia

“On earth I confess an itch for the praise of fools – that’s Vanity…” – Elizabeth Browning

Our culture creates problems in this regard.

One viewpoint that many people carry is that love of the self as selfish, and something we should grow out of as we mature. Once we learn there are other people in the world, those other people’s wants and needs should be more important than ours, if we are to become good people. But then we give and give and give until there’s nothing left in us to give, which leads some otherwise good people to self-destruct in service to others.

Others see self-love as a healthy – even responsible – a rebellion against this first belief system above (when taken to extremes); a defense against being taken advantage of. A worship of the temporal by the individual to ensure they don’t “waste their life.”

The term, according to many in the world, refers to sexual self-stimulation which, when done outside the Lord’s designated boundaries, only serves to reinforce this second belief system, but only to our detriment.

This paradigm says we should think of ourselves first, and always see to our own needs above any others, under any circumstances. “What’s in it for me?” “What is the market value of the person I am thinking about entering into a relationship with?” “Am I getting as much from this relationship as I am putting into it?”  When this belief is followed to its outer extreme, we see and hear the devilish belief, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”, uttered by the man who became Perdition.[i]

The Gospel View of Philautia

The Lord sees things very differently. Instead of self-love being a selfish concern, we hear the Lord and His servants describe it as an essential human need:

“[Philautia] goes to the very heart of our personal growth and accomplishment. Self-esteem is the glue that holds together our self-reliance, our self-control, our self-approval or disapproval, and keeps all self-defense mechanisms secure. It is a protection against excessive self-deception, self-distrust, self-reproach, and plain old-fashion selfishness.”[ii]

How Does Philautia Affect Sex in the LDS Marriage?

James E. Faust’s talk on self-esteem contained six ways to keep self-esteem strong. To me, these points he mentioned correspond in every way to cultivating philautia in our marriages and our lives.

*Keeping ourselves free of addictions, particularly any addictions to profane erotica, is critical to a healthy self-esteem and an improved sex life in marriage. When we’re viewing such material, can we view these people making the videos, as children of God? Can we view our spouses as children of God? Or do all people become objects for personal satisfaction instead?

There is no room for profane erotica in a gospel marriage, or in our marriage beds.

Other physical and mental addictions, such as overeating, abusing prescription or illegal drugs, or anything else we put above God or our spouse requires quick and frequent repentance if we’re to keep a healthy self-esteem.[iii]

*Cultivating humility helps us to realize that, while we are children of God and God loves us, God also loves our spouses, even when we’re angry at them.[iv]

*Honesty in our marriages includes realizing and admitting our own faults, and involving the Lord’s help, our spouse’s assistance, and the appropriate assistance of Church leaders or other professionals to build upon and shore up our weaknesses. Weaknesses can become strengths with help.[v]

“When our authentic self doesn't work in the world, we create a false self which lets us feel safe and accepted--but at significant cost….”[vi]

Dr. David Schnarch speaks of a process in marriage called ‘differentiation’ that we must pass through in order to obtain happiness in a long-term relationship.[vii] Differentiation is a process of taking responsibility for ourselves – to end our dependence on our spouse for our happiness. This is a difficult and painful process to endure, but a necessary one, and one that can’t be done through deception. Those who have a sense of self-love, of philautia, can take responsibility for themselves and soothe themselves better through conflict than those who struggle with self-love.

*A love of work will pay dividends in marriage, because marriage involves work. Building and strengthening our sexual identity and practices within our marriage is sometimes pleasant, and sometimes incredibly challenging. We shouldn’t shrink from that challenge, any more than Christ shrank from achieving his mission and performing the Atonement for us.[viii]

*Building our love for others, once we have felt the love of our parents and the love of the Lord, expands on this healthy concept of philautia. Our spouse will see every side of us, good and bad. Can we laugh at ourselves in our marriage? Can we accept compliments from our spouse, and accept them as truth?

Sins and transgressions eat holes in our philautia, but repentance is always there to heal us. Life can deal us setbacks that harm our self-esteem, but looking to help others can help us to feel the love of God again

*Strengthening our love for God will strengthen our marriage. Charity enhances and lifts all kinds of love, including self-love. When we feel the truth of it, that we are children of a kind and caring Father in Heaven, others can feel it too. Children first come to feel the love of the Lord (ideally) through the love of their parents, and then perhaps the love of a friend or teacher or some other kind of mentor. Philautia, the (gospel-centered) love of self, then develops in others through us and the service we render.

“As much as we want to control our own destiny, the humbling truth is that sometimes the only way to learn self-love is by being loved-precisely in the places where we feel most unsure and most tender. When that happens, we feel freedom and relief-and permission to love in a deeper way. No amount of positive self-talk can replicate this experience. It is a gift of intimacy, not of will-power.”[ix]

As children grow, they develop ludus, which we’ll explore in next week’s article.

[i] Genesis 4:9; Moses 5:24
[ii] Faust, James E. Self-Esteem: A Great Human Need.
[iii] Exodus 20:3-5
[iv] “A story is told of an encounter between the Prophet Joseph Smith and Brigham Young. In the presence of a rather large group of brethren, the Prophet severely chastised Brother Brigham for some failing in his duty. Everyone, I suppose somewhat stunned, waited to see what Brigham’s response would be. After all, Brigham, who later became known as the Lion of the Lord, was no shrinking violet by any means. Brigham slowly rose to his feet, and in words that truly reflected his character and his humility, he simply bowed his head and said, “Joseph, what do you want me to do?” The story goes that sobbing, Joseph ran from the podium, threw his arms around Brigham, and said in effect, “You passed, Brother Brigham, you passed” – Edgeley, Richard C., “The Empowerment of Humility”, October 2003 Conference
[v] Ether 12:27
[vi] Page, Ken, LCSW. “How to Love Yourself First”. Psychology Today. May 21, 2011;

[vii] “Intimacy is the two-prong process of confronting yourself and self-disclosing to your [spouse].” – Schnarch, David, Passionate Marriage, pg. 106
[viii] Luke 22:41-43
[ix] Page, Ken, LCSW. “How to Love Yourself First”. Psychology Today. May 21, 2011;