by Rob Furlong
It's February and this is the month when we celebrate Valentine's Day!
Sadly, what was once a time for lovers to declare and affirm their love for each other has simply become another exercise for retailers to encourage people to spend, spend, spend!
How easily our society is hoodwinked into thinking that spending money on exorbitant and highly priced gifts is the way in which you show the depth of your love for another!
Too often, when the gifts have lost their lustre and the initial *flush of romance has cooled, couples find themselves in the following situation described poetically by Adrian Plass :
Sunday is a funny day,
It starts with lots of noise.
Mummy rushes round with socks,
And Daddy shouts, 'You boys!'
Then Mummy says, 'Now don't blame them,
You know you're just as bad,
You've only just got out of bed,
It really makes me mad!'
My mummy is a Christian,
My daddy is as well,
My mummy says 'Oh, heavens!'
My daddy says 'Oh, hell!'
And when we get to church at last,
It's really very strange,
Cos Mum and Dad stop arguing,
And suddenly they change.
At church my mum and dad are friends,
They get on very well,
But no one knows they've had a row,
And I'm not gonna tell.
People often come to them,
Because they seem so nice,
And Mum and Dad are very pleased
To give them some advice.
They tell them Christian freedom
Is worth an awful lot,
But I don't know what freedom means,
If freedom's what they've got.
Daddy loves the meetings,
He's always at them all,
He's learning how to understand
The letters of St Paul.
But Mummy says, 'I'm stuck at home
To lead my Christian life,
It's just as well for blinkin' Paul
He didn't have a wife.'
I once heard my mummy say
She'd walk out of his life,
I once heard Daddy say to her
He'd picked a rotten wife.
They really love each other,
I really think they do.
I think the people in the church
Would help them – if they knew.
Growing a love that lasts a lifetime is not the result of expensive gifts or grand declarations of extravagance.
Love that lasts a lifetime is forged in the fires of adversity.
It is the fruit of a couple who honestly face the truth about themselves as individuals and are prepared to work for positive change and growth.
Love that lasts a lifetime grows in the seedbed of honest communication.
It is born out by travelling the hard road of dealing with one's junk.
It is recognising that the person you are married to or in love with is not perfect...and neither are you.
It is learning to accept those imperfections in each other and realising that they can actually work in your favour.
There is enough fakery and pretend love in the world already, so why continue to go along with it.
We have become so enamoured with the version of "love" portrayed on our TV and computer screens that we have forgotten what the real thing looks like!
So do something radical this Valentines' Day.
Instead of an expensive gift why not invest yourself into your relationship?
Ask yourself what it is that you truly love about your partner.
Write them down. (In a card or a letter – not an email – remember what writing is?!)
And then give it to your loved one.
Spend time together talking about the things that you love about each other.
And then plan and dream about how you can build on that in the coming year.
Don't settle for what our culture says is true love – discover it's wonder and beauty for yourselves!
Happy Valentines' Day!•