How about getting away from politics for a few minutes? Let’s consider what really matters: Don’t you think Valentine’s Day is a lovely celebration?
We don’t have to put up a tree and string it with lights. My husband actually likes this holiday. Maybe it’s because I buy him a long stemmed red rose and the fixings for a steak, shrimp and young asparagus dinner. It’s a perfect tradition. He cooks and we eat at home in candlelight.
As a romance-aholic, my favorite subject is love and marriage, the ultimate power to create and destroy. Have you noticed that love never goes out of style, never seems to be outdated or updated? Now, marriage is another thing. If anything, it’s been downgraded.
Too bad about that.
Sure, marriage is about the most difficult challenge, ever; right up there with parenthood, in reality. But, the truth is, it’s a growth stimulant. Only the clever, the patient, the tough and resilient get through it without expiring. Then, along the way, rewards appear and the brutal journey is viewed as worthwhile. It’s reminiscent of childbirth.
In the Jan. 28 issue of Time magazine, readers were treated to a full issue on romance. One article headlined “Marry Me” points out a good marriage is a health remedy, offering quality of life and longevity, especially for men. But, get this: Married contentment can make a man fat. Ha! And you thought women had that problem.
Of course, marriage hurts like the dickens when things go wrong. University of Virginia neuroscientist James Coan is quoted: “How often someone rolls their eyes at you can predict how often you need to go to the doctor.” Now, there’s the truth in black and white.
One of my relatives has been battling that symptom for years and has finally chosen self-preservation over hanging in there. It’s a tough decision. Dreams die, credit ratings collapse and divorce becomes a family-and-friends divider. I won’t bother to mention the kids.
Some years ago, I had the privilege of interviewing Dr. Karl Menninger, founder of the Menninger School of Psychiatry. We discussed his book on human nature, “Love against Hate.” If you, too, wonder why love-saturated relationships turn to hate, find the answers within those pages. Learn of the destructive nature of man and the power love has to overcome.
In the science of psychiatry, life’s simple patterns are valued as the building blocks of lasting affection. Menninger tells that attention to simple interactions serve as the best love stimulant, such as giving and receiving, eating and working together, honest conversation, all the normal things people try to do. Not once was chocolate or roses mentioned, but that doesn’t let you guys off the hook.
Listening is huge on the list. Menninger quotes Brenda Ueland, who wrote an article for the Ladies’ Home Journal. Drink this in:
“Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force. The friends that listen to us are the ones we move toward, and we want to sit in their radius as though it did us good, like ultraviolet rays. When we are actually listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand. Ideas actually begin to grow within us and come to life … When we listen to people there is an alternating current, and this recharges us so that we never get tired of each other.”
How’s that for a love sonnet, published in 1941. Yes, love is so old, it’s a wonder it’s still in vogue. But, those who handle it gently find it never wears out and marriage is the biggest benefactor. Legal coupling isn’t doing so well these days, with only a 50 percent success rate. Menniger quotes renowned psychiatrist Sigmund Freud: “Hate means death and love is stronger than hate, and, therefore, stronger than death.” Perhaps we should use it more often — love, that is.
It comes down to this: The fact that we’ve set aside a special day to honor love says something wonderful about society. That’s why hope will forever remain in the air.