Q. How important is it for married couples to express romantic love to each other? My wife and I have been married for twenty years. On Valentines Day she wants me to give her a Valentine, tell her I love her and be romantic. I think she should know I love her because I go to work every day and I help around the house. I think actions like these are more important than words or cards. Also, our relationship isn’t always great so why should I do anything? What do you think?
A. Valentine’s Day has been celebrated by couples since the 14th century. Cards, gifts, flowers, candy or a romantic evening together are traditional ways to do this. Romance enhances relationships and revives a dull or troubled marriage.
You question being romantic toward your wife on Valentine’s Day and justify it because you do other things for her and your marriage isn’t always great. I have news for you. No marriage is always great. If you meet your wife’s need for romantic attention I suspect your marriage will be a great deal better. What have you got to lose? Why does this seem so difficult? Every marriage must be nourished in a variety of ways or it will die.
We have been misled by movies and the media into thinking love is easy; a feeling, an emotional high. We confuse love and infatuation. Love requires commitment and work. It requires giving of oneself, abandoning our self-focus. Many marriages fail because they are not nurtured.
If you have resentment about the fact that your relationship is “not that great” you need to communicate this to your wife. Tell her what you need from her; how she can make the relationship better for you. Your needs are important also. Everything either of you do is either building your marriage up or tearing it down. Which would you rather do?
Gary Smalley, in his book Love Is A Decision, cites four qualities needed in every marriage in order to nurture it. He compares a marriage to a plant and suggests these needs:
1. Security in marriage is like sunshine to a plant. A life time loving commitment to each other enables a marriage to flourish.
2. Meaningful communication in marriage is like water to a thirsty plant. We must share feelings, needs, hopes, dreams and be good listeners in order for our marriage to thrive.
3. Romantic celebration experiences are like rich soil that nurtures a plant. We need to schedule, plan and carry out times of celebration together.
4. Loving care and touch is essential even for plants. Similarly our marriage needs hugs, kisses, and cuddling on a daily basis for it to blossom.
I would also suggest the following.
· Put your wife first. This means she comes before your mother, your father, your son and your daughter. At times she even comes before yourself.
· Don’t let your work or a hobby keep you from spending quality and quantity time with your wife.
· Say, “I love you.” No matter what else you’re doing your spouse needs to hear those words often. This goes for wives as well as husbands.
· Learn to forgive. We have all done hurtful things we needed to be forgiven for. Also, unforgiveness hurts you as well as the marriage.
Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. Let’s express love to our wife or husband in special ways. We can also express love to family members, friends, co-workers and others. Visit a shut in. Email a friend. Send cards to those who are alone and need to know they’re loved. Say “I love you” to family and friends. We all need Valentines.
“Love each other deeply because love covers a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8