In the dark of night, under the cloak of secrecy, she said, “I do” to the man who had walked with her through the pain and terror and the excitement and laughter of the past two years. Quietly, guided by the whispers of the Christian priest Valentine, he said, “I do,” with a silent prayer that it would not be for the last time. In the morning he would be headed off to war – to battle – called to fight for Claudius II Gothicus, one he does not believe in for a cause he does not agree with, at the penalty of death. His only earthly light was the love of this woman beside him. The least he could do was set her up to be taken care of should the unspeakable happen.
There are many stories behind the history of Valentine’s Day. Some say it was because St. Valentine performed secrete marital ceremonies against Emperor Claudius II Gothicus’s decree against engagements and marriages in Rome. Some say it was to Christianize the pagan celebration of Lupercalia (a celebration of purification and fertility).
Whatever the reason, the reality is we celebrate the day in practice as a way to celebrate those we love. The day has become one to celebrate your significant other. But, it is more than that.
For those of us who have to spend days like this apart from our “better-halves” or for you single parents who are widowed, left, or worse, it is a day to remind you that you are alone.
I do not think that is true. I think this day is a great way to remember those who love you and those whom you love. It is a day to act in love, mercy, and kindness. It is a day to remember that you are never alone. A day to count your blessings.
In a social distancing world, where we have pitted ourselves against the other because of a sniffle or politics or the way we dress, this is a great time to remind ourselves that we all bleed the same. We all cry, laugh, mourn and dance. This is a time to change our hearts and practice what we preach – love.
Here are some ways to bring more love into your marriage:
- Schedule priority time together. I have said this again and again….dating should not stop just because we said, “I do.” Dating should just be beginning. We change so much as we grow. Dating helps keep us connected to the changes of the other person. This is valuable invested time in the marriage. Pull out your calendars and set a date every week or two—just to spend time together and talk.
2. Laugh together. One of the reasons I married my awesome husband was he made me laugh. That sounds cliché, but in reality, it is really hard to get me to laugh – much less guffaw. Laughter truly is the best medicine and brings healing and bonding. When was the last time you shared a funny story and chuckled with each other? We like finding little jokes and sharing them with each other (especially when we are apart for work). As the song goes, “Girl, let your hair down.” Laugh freely – give yourself permission. Live lightheartedly!
3. Play together. I love this one. It is so easy to forget how to play as adults when faced with the reality of the world. We get stuck in bills, taxes, doctor appointments, and dinner we forget how to play. That childlike view of the world disappears. Another reason I adore my husband, he makes it easy to find that child again. We love to play together. We especially like crating together (and yes, I will watch the stories of the video games he plays…they can be quite good). I encourage you to find a hobby or activity you both enjoy: fishing, bowling, tennis, hiking, biking, crafting. It is also ok to take turns on things only one of you enjoys and spend time doing what the other likes. You learn a lot about your mate that way.
4. Be romantic together. It is no secret to those who know me well, I love words of affirmation. I love hearing compliments. I love quality time hanging out with Hubby. My husband, on the other hand, loves gifts and service. He feels most loved when something has been done for him or a special trinket arrives for him. Our love languages are different, but not incompatible. For my birthday I asked my husband to write a letter, poem, or story of why he loves me. For his Christmas present, I cleaned the garage and got him the gaming system he wanted. Send your spouse a note of encouragement in the mail every once in a while, just to say, “I love you.” (I keep a list and little sticky notes around my office and bathroom of the romantic and uplifting things he has said to remind me on days that feel distant). When possible, spend one or two weekends away each year just with your spouse. (No buddies or children allowed.)
5. Be grateful. I was reminded this week how much we take for granted in marriage and in partnership. It is easy in marriage to compare the circumstance of each other and think one has it harder than the other. In reality, it is just as hard for your spouse as it is for you. That is why love is a choice. Love is work. Love is patient. Love is kind. Love keeps no records of wrongs. So, say “Thank you” to your spouse. You know you are not perfect. They choose to love you anyway. They choose to work through your baggage with you. They choose to walk through life with you. So thank you. Purpose your days to see all the things they do that make your life better and acknowledge that.
While Valentine’s Day is a good time to put some spark into your relationship, the only way to fan the flame of a good relationship is for every day to have a Hallmark moment.
What are you doing to fan the flame of your marriage?