If you know me, I’m a huge fan of marriage.
I love studying the beauty of how man and woman come together in a moment and take a lifetime of being woven together with Jesus to form a “cord not easily broken.” I marvel at how two broken, imperfect, and opposites can connect and commit to an adventure that ends with nothing less than the grave. I’m fascinated the dynamics of how a male and female make a covenant to become “one” on a day, yet leverage years and hard work to build a life of becoming “one.” Marriage is a moment and a journey; a commitment and a process.
I honestly appreciate special days that help accentuate that relationship. Special “holidays” and/or anniversaries should be re-centering moments for our hearts, times to recall God’s grace and goodness in our lives, opportunities to recalibrate the our relationship, and times to remind ourselves that the best has yet to come.
But, when it comes to Valentine’s Day, I wonder if we are doing more damage than we realize. Instead of being the spillover of a year of romance, it’s become “how special am I to my spouse?” because, possibly, those romantic days are few and far between.
I think of it this way: Valentine’s Day (and/or anniversaries) can be treated how people treat church on Easter. They’ll put in on the calendar, show up prepared to engage in it, then go back to living the way they were before the holiday. Valentine’s Day should be a time to build up to. It should be, not the introduction of a new response to your spouse, but an overflow of what’s been growing in your hearts toward one another.
I’m not saying I “hate” Valentine’s Day. But with the wrong approach, these type of holidays can develop heartache by…
- Putting undo pressure to compete with other couples (or the previous year)
- Developing unrealistic expectations as you pray your spouse knows what you like and/or caught your “hints.”
- Facilitate selfish behavior as so many will do something in order to get a specific response from your spouse. (i.e. “Valentine’s is only successful if I get what I want. So I do ‘this,’ my spouse should do “that.’“)
- Making this day more of a burden when you realize that this type of attention only happens once a year. So, you put everything you can into a moment hoping for the payoff.
Please hear my heart: If you are waiting for a “holiday” to celebrate your relationship, you are turning these moments into a spin of the roulette wheel with everything riding on that day. I believe Valentines Day is an “over and above the norm” type of celebration. But for too many couples, being romantic is “over and above” the normal or it’s usually off the radar unless you want something. Romance isn’t an “over and above” the normal every day life. It IS every day life.
Engage in Every Day Romance
If you’ve read my blogs long enough, or been in premarital counseling with me, you’ve heard my definition of romance:
Romance is selflessly serving your spouse’s love language.
This entails two things: First, knowing the love languages your spouse speaks and, second, serving those love languages. In a culture of give and take, this flies in the face of that by looking at what speaks to your spouse’s heart and serving that way without any reciprocation back. I liken it to how Jesus responded to humanity. When he was with his disciples, he served them and washed their feet knowing 11 of them would abandon him and 1 would betray him. Jesus served “for the joy set before him” and not necessarily “for the joy of what they could do back for him.” Romance is really “romance” when we serve based upon what speaks to our spouse and not what we receive back from them. Jesus’ joy came from serving. I wonder if we’d experience more joy if our fulfillment came from filling our spouse instead of endlessly chasing our selfish desires.
Celebrate Valentine’s Day, but the real romance starts on the 15th.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not wrong to enjoy special days. But correct your heart in the approach. See it as something special, not to replace a “lack” of attention.” Use this day (and others like it) to launch some new steps, and not just an oasis of love in a relational desert. What if you started something new on the 15th? Here’s some ideas:
- Purpose yourself to have conversations about what your love languages are.
- Find strategic times, outside the norm, to serve your spouse’s love language.
- Start a marriage book together. I’ve got a recommendation 😉
- Plan out a date that connects well to your spouse’s heart.
- Find creative ways to encourage your spouse.
- Plan a walk 1-2 times a week to talk about your day/week.
At Kfirst, I’ve been emphasizing the fact that we gather at 10a.m. on Sundays, but “church starts at 11:30” when we head out of the building and start acting like the church. Valentine’s Day happens on the 14th, but the real romance starts on the 15th.
Love you all. Praying for you as the two of you approach Valentine’s Day in a new way that launches you forward into a life of romantic responses to each other.
Thanks for letting me ramble…