From the time I became aware of what Valentine’s Day represented, I struggled with it. Who could struggle with true love, right?
Except, I wasn’t one of the girls who received Candy-grams in junior high. I wasn’t one of the girls who ever—ever—had a date to the Valentine’s dance. In my mind, I wasn’t pretty enough, or popular enough, or anything enough.
I came into adulthood with mixed-up ideas about Valentine’s Day. Yes, it was for celebrating true love. But not everybody got to be a part of the celebration.
It seems like the world tries to define for us what love looks like, what Valentine’s Day stands for.
The world touts this Valentine’s Effect. It sends the message that—only if we spend money, especially on certain gifts—is love understood.
Valentine’s Day has been twisted to glorify romantic love.
In focusing on this, the actual meaning of the day is neglected. That of celebrating enduring, in-it-forever love. This kind of love doesn’t necessarily require chocolate, or flowers, or fancy dinners as proof positive of love.
This kind of love is lived out 24/7/365, offering gifts that are meaningful to that person.
I asked a few friends what they’ve done so their love stands the test of time. Many of them have been married for decades. Here is what they shared:
1. Determine that if the relationship is broken you fix it, not throw it away (Christy S).
2. Deciding beforehand that whatever comes you are going to work through it. We recently came through a rough time, but after I decided I was committed to work through it…not so bad. And yes, after 25 years there are still rough patches (Alena T)
3. Staying off the “Love and Respect Crazy Cycle” One of us must be more mature to help the other get off this merry-go-round (Amy P)
4. We decided early in our marriage we would never use the D (divorce) word, even in jest. There is no back door in our relationship
5. The love of Jesus Christ demonstrated at Calvary is the only way we stay in love and the only way that can stand the trials and the test of time (Leah S)
- Every day, attempt to out-love your spouse (Bev R)
- Keep dating your spouse, even after you’re married. This keeps the relationship exciting and strengthens the bond you share (Shirley G)
- Grace. Give it. Receive it (Susan S)
- Be intentional in your relationship with your spouse (Shauna W)
- Keep doing the thoughtful little things, like making each other coffee or cooking what the other person prefers, even when we prefer not to. (Wendy M)
- Knowing my husband’s love language has been huge in helping me find meaningful ways to love him. One thing he’s thanked me for? Making his lunch each day.
- Never hold in hurt or anger. It will only fester into a larger wound. Sometimes this requires tabling the issue until both are calmer. But sooner, rather than later, talk, apologize with true feelings and accept the other’s apology. Our history forms our relationship and respect for each other, strengthening our deep devotion and love . . . Never wish that you hadn’t gone through a storm because once you’re through it prayerfully, you each come out holding one another tighter and closer! (Maribeth H)
- After our first fight in our dating relationship, I realized sarcasm devastated my heart. When we talked it out, we decided we wouldn’t fight with sarcasm. Being intentional about our words has helped us to “fight fair.”
- Speak kind words about our spouses when we talk with others. When I talk down about my husband to friends, those are the impressions people remember.
Though honoring Valentine’s Day is a good way to remember the person we love most in this world, it should not be the only day we do something loving. Let’s be intentional about loving well the other 364 days of the year, as well.
What about you? What would you add to this list of what’s needed to make a love an “in-it-forever” kind of love? What has someone done for you that showed genuine love?