St. Valentine’s Day
Celebrating true love and commitment
by Peter C. Kleponis, Ph.D.
St. Valentine’s Day is approaching and men are beginning to think about what to do for their wives. Some will send flowers, others will go out to dinner, and most will give Valentine cards.
Yet true love goes beyond warm emotions. It means standing by your wife through thick and thin, the good times and the bad, in sickness and in health, as you promised. I propose we use St. Valentine’s Day to show our true commitment to our wives and our marriages. Here are some ways we can do this based on Pope John Paul II’s writings.
In Theology of the Body and Love and Responsibility, John Paul II writes about three kinds of love in a marriage: Romantic, Friendship, and Spousal. I believe we can show our true love and commitment through them.
Romantic Love: This is the most common type of love we feel for our wives. It’s the warm feeling we get inside when we think or talk about our wives. It’s the excitement we feel coming home to her after a hard day at work; the gratitude we feel for all the things she does for us and our children. Showing this type of love is pretty easy. We can do this through cards, gifts, flowers, dinners out, poems, spa treatments, etc. We can also show this type of love through acts of kindness, such as helping her with household chores and thanking her for all she does. She will appreciate this.
Friendship Love: Have you ever asked anyone who has been married for 50 years what their secret is? They will probably tell you that it’s because they “married their best friend.” Being your wife’s best friend is a special kind of love. A best friend is a person you stick by and defend no matter what. When you have good news or bad news, they are the first person you tell. You share secrets with each other. There is a special bond that no one can break. Showing this kind of love and devotion can be done by choosing to spend time with your wife. For example, it can mean giving up playing golf or watching a ball game on Sunday afternoon just to spend time with your wife. Or hiring a babysitter so you and your wife can go out for an afternoon. These acts show her that she is your best friend and that you’d rather spend time with her over anything else.
Spousal Love: This is the strongest type of bond between a husband and wife. It is where the two become one. Couples with this type of love work daily to overcome any selfishness. No decisions are made without consulting the other person or at least considering how they would affect the other person. Many of us know couples like this. Their bond is clearly visible. They are a “package deal.” They can practically read each other’s minds and finish each other’s sentences. They truly know each other inside and out.
Here is where one also finds the sexual relationship between a husband and wife. Sex becomes a celebration of their love and unity. It mirrors the love of the Trinity. It is also an act of total self-giving as each spouse focuses on the other. In addition, it is open to new life as spousal love creates a healthy environment to raise children.
Couples can grow in spousal love by spending time with each other talking about their relationship. While this is often difficult for men at first, with practice it gets easier and more enjoyable. In talking about your relationship, you can reminisce about all the good times you’ve had together and the tough times you’ve gotten through. You can tell your wife all the things you love about her. If you’re really brave, you can ask your wife how you can be a better husband and father.
This type of conversation will be worth more than all the flowers and candy in the world to your wife! To learn how to have this type of communication with your wife, I recommend a Worldwide Marriage Encounter Weekend.
Sexually, a couple can grow in spousal love by realizing that they are renewing their marital vows every time they engage in sexual intercourse. This adds greater depth and meaning to the sexual act and their relationship.
By focusing on practicing these three types of love, you can show your wife your true love and commitment to her. While it can be a challenge, she will truly appreciate it.
I now want to challenge you even further. Don’t show her your true love and commitment only on special occasions, such as her birthday, your wedding anniversary, or St. Valentine’s Day. Make an effort to show her your love as often as possible. I am sure she will do the same for you in return. It’s a win-win situation!
Your children will also benefit from you expressions of love and commitment to your wife. One of the greatest gifts we can give our children is to model a healthy, loving marital relationship. Some day, when they are adults and searching for a spouse, they will know what to look for in a spouse and how to have a healthy, loving marriage.
Happy St. Valentine’s Day!
Peter C. Kleponis, Ph.D. is a licensed Clinical Therapist and Assistant Director of Comprehensive Counseling Services in West Conshohocken, Pa. His website is MaritalHealing.com.