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Are you getting ready for Valentine’s Day?

Dear spouses and partners, are you getting ready for Valentine’s Day? Why is Valentine’s Day so important? Perhaps I can ask why is loving so important? Valentine’s Day is all about loving romantically. True, we do not need this day for us to love. However, it is a wonderful time to celebrate love in unique and special ways.

Here is a warning: if you plan to just give flowers on Valentine’s Day to your partner, then you may be in trouble. If you think that giving flowers on Valentine’s Day is all you need to do to keep the love hot between you and your spouse, then you are totally misguided. Flowers aren’t enough. Your spouse wants all of you – your time, mind, and body.

Flowers are a wonderful way of expressing love and appreciation to your lover. However, the giving of flowers is not the acid test for warm, loving relationships. It is how you honor and cherish your spouse through the time spent together, then the appreciative words you utter other times of the year. It is also listening to and valuing your spouse’s opinions and ideas. It is being there for your spouse, especially when the chips are down. It is placing the relationship with your spouse above all other relationships – career, friends, relatives, and church.

Flowers are often used to hide or whitewash adulterous behaviors. It would be stupid for a woman to accept flowers from her unfaithful husband as a peace offering and not require a change of his adulterous behavior. Some men spend hundreds of dollars on Valentine’s Day and send flowers to their wives and sweethearts at the same time.

A Valentine’s adage is “say it with flowers”. What are these men saying with flowers? The truth is that you cannot truly say I love you with flowers if you never said it without flowers. Flowers are worthless when ongoing discontentment is in the marriage. On many Valentine’s, I have been unable to afford floral arrangements for my wife. However, she appreciated my romantic letters, hand-picked yard flowers, handmade cards, breakfast in bed, etc.

Some women foolishly accept the dozens of roses during Valentine’s simply because they know it costs lots of money. It makes them feel good to know that their lovers are spending so much money on them. They ignore the pain simply because of the price on the tag. With their eyes open, they are being led to the slaughter where their hearts are systematically being tortured by their partner’s unfaithfulness and dishonesty. Their body is being subjected to sexually transmitted diseases, at times life-threatening, simply because of the price of the flowers. If flowers alone keep you in a sexual relationship with an unfaithful man, then you are cheap.

Many spouses are angry when they receive flowers from their partners on Valentine’s Day. This is because they know their spouses are just trying to whitewash the problems between them and refuse to change their behavior. We need more husbands and wives who can say it with words before they say it with flowers. On this Valentine’s Day, be there for your spouse. Say it with words, not just flowers.

What is so upsetting to many wives is when their husbands purchase lovely flowers for this special day but will not volunteer to wash the dishes, wash the clothes, or clean the house. If you truly love your spouse, make sure that your “flowers” will not be first purchased from the floral shop. The “flowers” will be nurtured in time through your presence, attentiveness, care, and meeting his/her needs. Say it with words and action, not just with flowers.

• Barrington Brennen is a marriage and family therapist. Send your questions or comments to question@soencouragment.org, telephone 327-1980 or visit www.soencouragement.org.

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