Valentine Response: 2 Marital Responses to this Holiday

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.

Encourage effort.
Celebrate progress.
Feed hope.

Thanks for letting me ramble…

BTW: Check out my book. Click on the link below.

 

What to not forget about on Valentine’s Day! 1 Thing I want you to remember about February 14!

A week ago, I preached a message about rest.  In that message, I had made a statement about the issues of vacations and sabbaticals.

Would the urgency of vacations and sabbaticals, as well as the length of them, be necessary if we knew how to rest on a consistent, healthy basis?

It doesn’t mean I don’t believe in them (vacations and sabbaticals). I highly recommend them for everyone.  But when you don’t have a consistent intake of rest, you don’t get the most out of the times away because you have to spend to much of the time trying to acclimate yourself to the new surroundings.  I hear it all the time, “I took me 2-3 days just to relax and decompress so that I could enjoy vacations.”

I would give a similar statement on this holiday that comes every February 14…

Would the emphasis, urgency, and stress of Valentines be necessary if we knew how to be romantic to our spouse on a consistent, healthy basis?

It seems we can take our spouse for granted.  We tax our marriages with little time for us as a couple to rest and recreate.  Words of affirmation are few and far between because, “my spouse knows what I feel.” Sex is only reserved for “moods” and is looked as optional.  It’s no wonder why people binge on this one day a year (well twice IF you remember Sweetest Day in October).  Spouses stress out on plans and details.  Because of the holiday, you end of over-spending in such excess with the hopes that your tax return will help take away some of the sting.  Expectations are built up, and if not handled correctly, can be let down. There’s a lot of pressure in Valentine’s Day.  Why? It tends to be one of the few days that couples stop the world around them to focus upon each other.

Thus, the 1 thing I want you to remember about this Valentine’s Day is:

The romantic response of Valentine’s Day shouldn’t be reserved JUST for Valentine’s Day. 

During premarital/marital counseling, I love to ask couples, “What the definition of romance?”  I always make the groom/husband answer first.  That way, if the bride/wife answers first, he can’t say, “What she said.” I hear all sorts of answers. Flowers. Dates. Candy.  Movie.  Sex.  Those are all good answers, but they may not be the right ones.  Why? The answers might not be completely romantic to their spouse.  AND, what does Valentine’s Day get filled with? Flowers. Dates. Candy.  Movie.  Sex.  Again, not against those awesome things, but they may not speak romance to your spouse.

Can I give you a different AND simple definition of romance?  Romance: Serving your spouse’s love languages.  

That’s it.  Even in its simplicity, there’s tremendous complexity.  Why?  Two words:Serve” and “Spouse’s” These two key words help divert your attention off of what you intended to get out of romance and puts complete attention upon someone else.  You don’t give what you would want. You serve what speaks to your spouse.  It’s why flowers and candy might be what you would want, but is it what she wants?  A movie might be what’s on your mind, but is it on his mind?

This is why couples gorge themselves on V-Day.  They’re romantically starved throughout the year and February 14 is the buffet for them.  They will feast on the romance of the evening. Why? “Who knows when my spouse will get romantic again?”

I’m all about celebrating Valentine’s Day. It’s fun to have that day a year where, it seems, the whole world stops to focus upon couples.  But, for the sake of your marriage, would you make a decision to pour romance into your marriage throughout the year instead of the holidays that demand it (V-Day, Anniversary, Sweetest Day). Would you find time to, consistently, pour romance into your spouse by serving their love language?

“But if I meet my spouse’s needs but my needs aren’t met?”

My response: If you have TWO people who openly communicate and serve each other’s love languages, that question will never be asked.

If Valentine’s Day is the one day you pour into romance, then you and your spouse are romantically starving each other.   It’s time to move the romantic pressure off of Valentine’s Day and spread it over 12 months.

I leave you with an amazing verse from Hebrews 13:16

Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.

Did you see that? When you serve, you please God.  When you romance your spouse (serve their love language), you please the heart of our Heavenly Father.

My Valentine’s advice: Go out on a date with your spouse.  Have a conversation and a make a commitment together that February 14 is NOT gonna be the end of the romance.  It’s going to be a fresh start, the launch pad, for your marriage to consistently serving each other’s love languages and having a marriage that pleases the heart of God.

Enjoy.

Thanks for letting me ramble…