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Saint Valentine’s Day

Saint Valentine’s Day has a few different historical stories, but the most common one involves a man named Valentine or Valentinus. During the third century in Rome, military leaders decided that single men made better soldiers than married ones, so they outlawed marriage for soldiers. Defying the law, Valentine secretly married soldiers to their lovers. Eventually, his secret weddings were discovered by the Roman government, and Valentine was martyred and granted sainthood posthumously. Because of his advocacy for love and marriage, today he is the patron saint of Saint Valentine’s Day, a day that celebrates romantic love.

Saint Valentine’s Day is my favorite holiday. I know some people dismiss it as a Hallmark holiday, just another excuse to buy greeting cards, flowers, and candy, but even if those are traditional gifts. Like any other holiday, Valentine’s is what you make of it. I choose to make a day devoted to honoring my love for my spouse and receiving his love in return.

In normal times, Andy and I use Valentine’s and our anniversary for special occasion date nights. In fact, for the first few years of our relationship, we would typically have sushi because our first date was eating sushi in Lower Greenville in Dallas. To be clear, a date for us doesn’t involve our children. We love our children, but they are still feral creatures who haven’t learned emotional restraint and boundaries. They can quickly kill a romantic mood with senseless whining and irrational tantrums, all normal and age-appropriate. Marriage and romantic relationships need to have opportunities to step away from the daily routines of life and simply be together alone. In a healthy marriage, Valentine’s and anniversaries should not be the only opportunities for kid-free date nights, but we are not in normal times.

Andy and I have not had a kid-free date since we moved to Annapolis. We certainly want to. Lord knows, there is nothing more that I would like to do tonight than wear a pretty dress, put on some make-up, kiss my children good-night in the care of a trusted babysitter and go out on a romantic date night with my husband to a romantic restaurant and enjoy a savory steak with red wine and a gluten-free dessert. This will not happen tonight. As long as COVID-19 is still restricting restaurants and other outings, we will choose to wait for an outside date night. With the complexity of Maggie’s condition, it is difficult to find someone we can trust to handle Maggie’s seizures. Instead, our date night will be partially chaperoned by our daughters, but will still have the opportunity for romance after their bedtime. We will enjoy a romantic meal as a family and enjoy a date night movie once they’re asleep.

It is so easy to let life get busy and overwhelming. It is easy to slip into the daily routines, the parenting roles, the work, and school focus, and to neglect the quality time needed to maintain a marriage. Marriage is the most important relationship in a family. Marriage holds a family together. It is not a business partnership or co-parenting. Marriage is founded on romantic love and that romantic love needs to be cultivated and tended to frequently. It is not gratuitous or selfish to devote time and energy to romance. It is critical for the longevity of a family. Sadly, it is the lack of prioritizing romance that often precedes marital troubles.

The Bible has many passages about love and marriage. In the Old Testament, the book devoted to love in its entirety is Solomon’s Song of Songs in which he describes the courtship and blossoming relationship of romantic love, presumably with his first wife. It can be heavy, like an overly decadent dessert, heavy in romantic imagery, similes, and proclamations of love. I find it a little sappy and knowing Solomon’s extensive romantic history with multitudes of wives and concubines, I don’t necessarily find it to be the ideal Biblical standard for marital love.

Instead, I prefer to turn to the New Testament. My favorite verse explaining what love comes from 1st Corinthians “Love is patient, love is kind...” but that doesn’t necessarily address the love in a marriage. There are several instances of epistles advising readers to love one another as God loves us, but these are words of compassion to humanity in general. For me, my favorite verse about marital love comes from Ephesians 5:21-31:

Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body. “For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”

Today, the word submission has a negative connotation. It implies weakness and servitude, but that is not what is intended in this passage. My husband and I are equals in our relationship, partners in all decisions that impact our family. We submit to one another as in we are recognizing that the strength of our relationship is greater than our wills and desires. We are prioritizing our relationship over individual wants. We submit to one another and submit to our faith. And this is why I think couples must take advantage of any opportunity, Valentine’s or otherwise, to cultivate the love and romance of marriage.

I proclaim this loud and clear for everyone to know, I love you, Andrew Jeffrey Forisha. I will continue to love you as we watch our children grow up, as we enter different stages in our lives, as we age and gray. I will love you fiercely and passionately every day as long as my heart beats and my lungs fill with the breath of life, I will love you today and always. Happy Valentine’s Day.


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