Valentine’s Day is almost here. I remember those classroom parties with Hershey’s kisses, paper hearts and hanging cupids. Would so-and-so give you that extra special Valentine? The one with the train that said “I choo- choo- choose you”? (Yes that’s a Ralph quote from the Simpson’s.)
But as an adult, who is St. Valentine and how do we grow a stronger relationship?
There’s some very fuzzy info out there. Two “Valentine’s” are traced to the 3rd century—one a bishop, the other a priest, both martyred. They may be different people, or the same person (with conflicting stats.)
Some say the priest was in the habit of marrying young couples no one else would marry. Think of him like the renegade priest in Romeo and Juliet who marries the star-crossed lovers despite the quick romance and potential for social collateral.
Unfortunately, from what I could find, there’s very little evidence to back this theory up as Valentine the hero-love-priest.
But a reason the date of February 14th may be linked with both Valentine and romance is probably because (going back to a belief in the 1300’s) birds were supposed to mate on February 14th. And what about choosing a Valentine? Some trace this custom to the 1400’s in England.
But can any of this help us have a stronger relationship today?
One of the expressions I don’t like is “falling” in love. It suggests that we don’t have an active role in the love process. Like we’re running through a field and fall down a hole. I get where the expression comes from: We are “swept” off our feet; we have a feeling of being moved by an outside force. But, as Scott Peck says, “True love is not a feeling by which we are overwhelmed. It is a committed, thoughtful decision.”
Here’s what I propose:
Choose the one you’re with.
In the world of money, if we’re always looking to get ahead, we’re always looking up to the next rung on the ladder. We’re never aware of what we have, nor are we grateful. The same is true of love.
Pause. And start to invest in the love that is right here. Are you someone who is always wondering about what your life might be like with someone else? Now, if you’re dealing with abuse or trauma or another serious factor, that’s a different story. But for the most part, in response to the whole “the grass is greener on the other side” movement (which takes over many otherwise sane brains), Neil Barringham adds a counter note: “The grass is greener where you water it.”
“I choo- choo- choose you!” Thanks, Ralph. Corny, but dead on. Choose the one you’re with.
1. Pay attention to your partner
They are communicating with you whether they’re using words or not. And attention requires effort, especially in these times of distracting, blurrying busyness. Pay attention.
2. Have fun together
We were made for joy. The old teaching says that we were made to “glorify God and enjoy him forever.” That works in the context of a relationship too. Laughter is the best… fertilizer.
3. Focus on strengths
When we start dating someone, we see all their wonders. But over time we can zero in on flaws. Guess what, you have them too. Don’t let your eyes be continually drawn from a beautiful piece of art to a few cobwebs on the frame. Be thankful for the good.
4. Start now
Want more quality time? Make more. Want more romance? Be romantic. Want a stronger relationship? Initiative a more trusting, intimate connection. Married? Frame your wedding vows.
International church consultant Kennon Callahan has a way of saying things. I’ve heard him say to a group of pastors that your next best church is the one you’re already in. I think that works for relationships too: Your next best relationship is the one you’re already in.
Choose the one you’re with. Start now.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Related blog: Date Your Spouse