The Month Of The Valentine

Gloria Antypowich
Published on: February 2012
February is known for Valentine's Day, the romantic expression of Love in many parts of the world; although it is frowned upon, even banned in some areas. As I contemplated this celebration I thought about the different stages of love in human life.

When I went to primary school I remember the little books of "punch out" valentines that we would pur-chase. We would write on them, filling in the "To:" and "From:" spaces. Everyone in the class, as well as the teacher, the bus driver, mom and dad, grandpa and grandma and everyone else who crossed your path received one. My younger grandchildren still do this, but they attend school in a small community and it may be different in larger ones. At this age Valentines are friendly "hello's" that are sent out. Sometimes they are compassionate, being sent to someone who does not fit in with the others, because on this special day, you don't want to hurt their feelings and make them feel left out. At this stage, Valentine's Day reflects the basic innocence of human kindness and "Love".

A few years later the same children start becoming aware of the opposite sex. The baby stages of the dance of sexuality start to emerge; blushes and giggles show up. They walk together and joke and give each other a playful shove. But for a short period of time they still hover between innocence and total awareness. Now they choose the most special from their treasure trove of Valentine cards and send it to the person who triggers their interest. And they search through the pile of Valentines they've received, looking for one from that special person. If they find it they are full of smiles, a little shy and feel all warm and excited. That one card is the most important; the emainder pretty insignificant. If they don`t find it, disappointment clouds the value of the others and they all become insignificant.
the month of the valentine,celebration
Within too short a time, for parents anyway, hor-mones rise to the surface and our "little girls" or boys have graduated to total awareness. Some have been disciplined by family values and belief systems, but the feeling are there, tamped down or out in the open. Awareness and desire burgeon, wanting to be explored. Valentine Day may only bring a chaste card and a stolen kiss, or open overtures; depending on the individual background of the participants. But lust, the initial response of what people refer to as "love" is fast gaining momentum.
Next comes the heart pounding, hormone driven, caution and common sense thrown to the wind stage. This can play out over and over again, with many different partners although some make a commitment the first time around. At is at this stage Valentine's Day often becomes a commercial exploitation of "Love". Flowers, chocolates, fine dining, expensive gifts, romantic vacations; all the wonderful things of courtship, but only the very tip of the iceberg as far as love goes.

To find true love the dance of courtship leads to the gift of commitment to each other. Good relationships maintain lust, but they grow much deeper; there has to be respect for each other, consideration of each other's needs, give and take, the willingness to be there for each other through the good times and bad, through joy and sadness, through sickness and health. (let's be honest-even when you like each other or don't!) Valentine's Day is celebrated as a symbol of what people share, but ideally the sentiments of Valentine's Day are part of their daily life.

Love is different for each stage of life: the exploring couples, the courting couples, the newlyweds, those sharing the start of a family, those over whelmed by the pressures of family and work, the middle aged who are experiencing the "empty nest" syndrome and are getting reacquainted with each other, as well as for the couples who have rode out all the ebb and flows, survived the storms and gaze back over life, side by side in their rocking chairs.

Realism comes with time. Love is no fairy tale; it requires hard work. In later years, love is often expressed in simple gestures; getting your spouse's pair of glasses so they don't have to get up from a comfortable chair, answering a question that you've answered a dozen times before without letting your annoyance show, helping with household chores, listening to the same old stories you've heard over and over again. The daily, small things in life.

I don't think, in the long term, love ever measures up to the happily ever after, fairy tale perfect image sometimes expected because every healthy relationship involves two distinct individuals, and no two people see life from the same point of view all the time!

My husband and I have been married for over 50 years. Has it been perfect? Has it always been easy? Of course not! But now we are both happy that we can look back at the colourful tapestry that our life together has woven.

Do we still have lust? Certainly, but we don't act on it as often as we did fifty years ago! Do we get each other Valentine cards? Well it depends on if we think about it when we are in town. Does he take me out for Valentines dinner? Almost always, but it may not be exactly on February 14th - if we go to town a couple of days before or a couple of days after we may celebrate it then, but we always acknowledge that is what we are doing.
Do we buy each other expensive gifts; seldom be-cause we usually get what we want when we want it, if it's within our budget. However, he did insist on buying me a ring that I loved for our 50th anniversary.

Love is individual to each one of us. The early stages are exciting and wonderful. The others that usually follow are part of personal growth. But in the long term a successful relationship brings comfort, assur-ance and a full heart! Enjoy your love and make the most of it. Oh...and Happy Valentine's Day however you decide to celebrate it!
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