If you’re thinking this post is about all the smoochie goodness of valentines day you would be wrong. In our home we don’t really make a big fuss of, or celebrate Valentines day. This being said, since having kids it’s kind of become a thing. There is always a sweet little generic valentines card, propped up against your sleepy-eyed face on the morning that was made at school, along with a big sloppy kiss and a HAPPY VALENTINES DAY in unison by the kids and the husband, and then I usually get to drink my cup of coffee cold and hit the ground running as per normal for the rest of the day.
I’ve personally never enjoyed the day itself, because of many years of disappointing valentine’s days at school, never getting a card or a flower, or even a look from a boy I liked, or any boy for that matter. Except that one year I was given a card by a “secret admirer”. All the girls, and some boys told me they knew who it was, and gave me a name, they told me he had hoped I would pop round to his home that day. He lived in the same block, and I had a massive crush on him. (I have to add I may have been around my daughter’s age of 9 or 10) Needless to say I went off to his house and knocked on his door only for him to tell me it was all a joke That was my very first real heartbreak. I just wasn’t popular like that, and I really hated the day each year since then, even-though I used to think every year that “this year will be different”. One year I took a particular knock, when a longstanding boyfriend I’d had, used that very day to end our relationship, so it’s never held particularly good memories for me. I recently heard the day itself being referred to as “Single awareness day” and although I am married now I can quite comprehend that awful resentment, because I was there once too. This is not an “I feel sorry for myself post” I am trying to make a point and I will get to it. essentially what I want to say is that it took me a very long time to take that emotion and resentment and learn to let it go and turn it around for myself. I needed to learn to rather love myself as opposed to expecting others to show me love first. It was only after I figured that out that I was even remotely ready for a successful relationship with someone.
I am actually quite the hopeless romantic, but my husband on the other end is rather practical, and things like valentines day don’t really feature for him too much. I knew this before we got married, so it’s not like it came as a shock or anything, but I think after a few years of me feeling left out, or unhappy because it didn’t happen like I had hoped, or him feeling forced to present me with flowers or gifts or a surprise date night on this one commercially driven holiday, led him and I to just reach a type of compromise, and therefore forfeiting the pomp and ceremony of the fakeness of it for a more authentic and constant atmosphere of love rather than resentment on either our part. We do try as a rule to make everyday in our home a loving and heartfelt day, and don’t really need the cards, flowers or other ridiculously priced items on one specific day of the year. If we are lucky to be able to organize a babysitter on a Valentines day, we may go out and have a quick bite and connect on a different level, but usually we are at home going through the regular motions of being parents and partners. This may sound sad or boring to some of you, but it actually works for us and we are far happier this way, trust me!
These days we just play along with the kids who are in it now, just for the fun and mystery of the handmade card given to mom, with randomly picked bunch of blooms from the garden, and we enjoy the innocence of it all, and give them their moment of extreme excitement and happiness. I only wish it stayed this way and never became a day of dread for any of them like it has been for me as a young impressionable girl, or that they never feel “forced” for lack of a better word to do it for someone else as a young man. I really think St Valentine himself would be rolling in his grave or would stab himself in the heart with the back of Cupids bow should he be privy to how it all ended up so commercial and insanely expensive at that. Love is free, it is a gift and you should never have to pay for it.
Although this post probably sounds all dreary, and is not your regular valentines blog post, I really needed to get it off my chest and share with you something I have felt really impressed upon me. Parents, teach your children that love is a kind, patient and free thing. It has no price tag or it shouldn’t…it is priceless and special and they should never feel they need to use money or things to buy the happiness or love of others. Teach your children the value of enjoying the company of the people around them, the connection of a simple meaningful conversation, the look you give the person you love or like and NEVER to make someone think they are something they are not. That is unfair and cruel and a lot less hearts would be broken if we just taught our children these basic things.
While I was researching a little for this post, I was reminded about the fact that there are actually four totally different types of love, and it occurred to me how black and white we make things these days, and how we throw the words “I love you” around like stones over the water. Love is special and unique and really rather complicated and difficult to understand, a little like a red velvet cupcake, complex in its ingredients and method to make, but you are completely overjoyed every time you take a bite. Love is not, as is commonly understood a matter of the heart, but rather process undergone by the brain to understand it or distinguish between the different types of love. There are different forms and styles of expressing love, and the ancient Greeks came up with a way to describe them all by giving them each an individual name. (Eros, storge, agape and philia) these words are used to symbolize the four types of love. I remember being taught about this in school, but I am not sure if these types of lessons feature in the curriculum anymore or I would rather say it certainly doesn’t seem to, so it is definitely up to us to give the gift of this knowledge to our own children sooner rather than later.
This is an unconditional love that sees beyond what is on the outside, beyond all the flaws or faults. As humans this is the type of love we strive to have towards our fellow humans. You may not like someone in particular but you decide to still love them as part of your humanity regardless. It is a chosen love, a committed thought. This kind of love is all about sacrifice and expecting nothing back. It is a demonstration, a way of being a part of something bigger than ourselves.
This is the friendship love. The phileo love refers to an affectionate, warm and tender platonic love. It is a feeling that makes you want to have a friendship with someone, it goes hand in hand with agape but although you may have agape love for your enemies you may not have Phileo love for the same people. This is also a committed or chosen love. It is a feeling you have towards another person and is demonstrated usually though friendships and bonds between people.
The Storge love is the love that we feel as family towards each other. It is usually how parents mostly naturally feel towards their children. It can sometimes be a kind of love felt towards certain friends, you may have friends that feel as though they are as close to you as your own siblings and therefore storge love can be felt out of the family unit too. You usually experience storge love in that way when you become best friends with someone. In this regard it is also a love that is unconditional and accepts the other person beyond what is seen on the outside. It is a safe and secure love although also committed and chosen.
Eros or the romantic love is a passionate and intense love that arouses romantic feelings; This is the one I want to focus on. It is the kind that often triggers intense feelings in a new relationship and makes you say, “I love him/her”. these words are very strong to use and so must be used carefully and with intention. Eros is a simple an emotional love but can also be the cause of much sadness.. Although this romantic love is important in the beginning of a new relationship, it may not last unless the feelings are of course reciprocated by the other party. This love if not handled correctly often ends in heartbreak as well as feelings of resentment. Parents, teach your children to be clear with their intentions of love. Love is a sacred thing, a gift and is not to be treated as anything less.
These are just brief descriptions of the 4 main types of love. These four types of love often work together too, to make a relationship last and remain meaningful.This just offers you a general understanding and description of the four types of love which promotes a good, healthy and progressive relationship. In any relationship, you should have all these four loves working together to enable it survive for a longer time. But in some cases, a relationship may be long-lasting if partners share the same style of love.
If valentine’s is your thing, and you love the pomp and ceremony of it all, the cheesy cards and teddy bears, or the printed mugs then enjoy it, but set your intention, be clear and never ever be blasè about this one truly crucial thing. I am not overly religious, but I always come back to that bible verse in Corinthians about what love really is, and so I will share it here for you. Use it, don’t use it. It applies to everybody, wether you believe in a God or the bible or not. It really is just one of those rules we should all remember to live by.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7New International Version (NIV)
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.