I recently saw on TV a couple in China who were about to celebrate 60 years of marriage. Unfortunately, they constantly argued. The husband wished his wife would divorce him and release him from his living hell. That is not happily ever after! How incredibly sad to see your life slipping away in emotional pain when the power to change is in your hands. There is only one person that you can change and that is you – but then the changes that you make also change the relationships that you have with those around you.
I have often heard men saying that Valentine’s Day is just a commercial rip off and they celebrate every day of the year. Then why do so many of them look like relational sad sacks? Sure, every day counts but are they actually making the effort to push the boat out from time to time and woo their partner?
It takes intentionality to serve the other person. Not everyone can easily give or receive love. A history that includes sexual abuse can make relationships incredibly challenging. But there are many other factors that can be a barrier to intimacy of the heart. People feel loved in different ways, sometimes called ‘love languages’. These are commonly listed as: words of affirmation, gifts, acts of service, quality time, and physical touch. It is really helpful to identify your partner’s primary and secondary love language.
You might think that many men’s primary language is physical touch, yet I would suggest that words of affirmation go a long way too. That is why arguing can be so destructive. Words have power, so I now choose carefully what is worth a disagreement over. Not every battle is worth the cost of so-called winning.
Being intentional towards Kerrie led me over a decade ago to take her out for dinner once every week for a ‘date night’. We had five kids at home and cashflow wasn’t the greatest. I found a tiny Indian restaurant in Sandringham village (sadly now long gone). I can still remember that the weekly bill was only $27 for both of us. That was manageable, and it gave us time together each week. We eventually learnt that it was not the time to discuss anything contentious. It was the time to try and connect more deeply. Our marriage has been far from plain sailing, but even at our very lowest point, our intentional date nights have kept us connected.
I have enjoyed the excuse that Valentine’s Day gives me to make a fuss over Kerrie. It does not have to be expensive. Even a note or a hand-made card makes a statement. It can be easier to convey the deeper things of the heart in text than face to face. Words have power.
May this Valentine’s Day bring you closer to the one you love.