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Saturday, February 13, 2010
It's time again for that most important of romantic holidays:  Valentine's Day.  At our house it's considered a major holiday, right up there with Christmas and Easter. 

It's been interesting to follow the comments for and against this holiday filled with roses and candy.  I waded into the discussion a few days ago with a comment to a post and counter-post on two other marriage blogs (yes, sidebar links are still coming soon).  Kathleen at ProjectM argued astutely that society already has an unhealthy focus on "romance" and doesn't need a holiday to reinforce that.  Meg from Opal Elephant countered that love is a good thing, in all its forms, so why not have a day to celebrate it?  I took a shot at bridging these two polar perspectives and I'll re-post my comments here:
Meg and Kathleen, interesting dialog here and on other blogs about the value and importance of Valentine’s Day. I think Kathleen is onto something in the limitations imposed by our use (and over-use) of the singular word “love” to cover what is actually a multi-faceted and complex array of human interactions.

I think you both have valid points, and in truth I think one leads to the other. To me it’s the sacrificial, selfless, unconditional “agape” type of love that puts a marriage on a lasting footing and sustains it for the long haul. When that is solidly in place, it opens a wide pathway to the romantic and erotic feelings-based love (“eros’) that we celebrate so fervently on Valentine’s Day. Feelings can be fleeting and fickle, but as long as you’ve got a solid agape foundation to fall back on, I’m all for enjoying them to the fullest in the passion of the moment!

Yes, I think both kinds of love are important ingredients for a healthy and happy marriage.

(PS also important is the “friendship love” the Greeks called “”phileo,” but that’s probably another post.)
Personally I come down on the side of loving V-day.  I usually take the opportunity to lavish love upon my sweetheart in some creative way, and it's fun to have a holiday for which over-the-top romanticism in encouraged.  (As I write this we are stolen away in a romantic mountain-top little cabin awash in a sea of snow.) Of course this isn't the only day of the year we do loving and romantic things for each other,. but I see little harm in V-day as long as there is a realization that marriages are not built to last the long haul on fleeting goosebumps.

I think some men are intimidated by the daunting expectations of their wives for this day.  Perhpas they feel set up to fail or disappoint.  Is it fear masking itself as disdain that drives many to criticize V-day?  Who knows?  I'm a born romantic and even for me there is a the thought in the back of my mind that I need to outdo whatever I did last year in order to show the strength of my love.  Of course that's silly.  That's not what the day should be about - makes it more about me than her or us.  So I say relax and let go of expectations and just celebrate your love, in whatever form that takes. 

A final comment, and then I'll leave this contentious discussion for another year.  Meg says in her post that she sees the holiday as a time to celebrate love in all its forms and in all your relationships.  My wife, Jenni, mostly shares that perspective.  In addition to sending out cards to family and friends most years, she always wants to make sure we include a family celebration, with special love-gifts for our girls.  That's a perpective I've had to grow into, because I've typically seen V-day as exclusively for lovers. But I see her point.  There's plenty of love to go around, so why not include others in the festivities.

Care to comment for or against this heart-shaped holiday?


Kathleen Quiring said...

Hi Scott,

I wrote out an elaborate comment, but I had trouble signing in and somehow lost my comment. Boo. So I'll just write in to say I appreciate all your thoughts. Also, I can't really protest V-Day the way your wife celebrates it -- remembering all the different kinds of love. Sweet.

Kathleen | Project M

Jenni said...

As the lucky wife of Scott, I just have to say that I! That's why Valentine's Day is my favorite day of the year! I miss teaching kindergarten and celebrating it from Feb. 2nd(don't leave out the groundhog!) to the 14th. But I also understand that love distorted is a BAD thing. And much expressed in the name of love, isn't love.
Oh well, enough rambling, we are afterall, in this wonderful mountain cabin and Scott is cooking me breakfast!

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