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Behold Your Valentine!

February, 2008

By Paula Friedrichsen

We live in a disposable society. It's now cheaper to buy a new toaster, vacuum, blender, TV, or computer than it is to have the old one repaired. Our frantic pace and enjoyment of new things dictates that we must quickly toss out anything old and obsolete, replacing it with something up to date and appealing. Things just don't seem to hold their value anymore.

This pervasive attitude has easily translated over into modern marriage. I mean, Tom Cruise did it... Brad Pitt did it... Elizabeth Taylor started it... why not?

Society places great importance on the first stages of thrilling romantic love, as well as the passionate physical pursuits that usually follow. However, the beginning stages of romantic love cannot lay claim to the treasures found in a longstanding, committed marriage. Married love may not always burn with the heat and passion of that first stage of romantic love, but neither does it burn out easily. And the consistent warmth it provides is there on the coldest of days and darkest of nights.

As Valentines Day rolls around again this year I think it's the perfect time to take a few minutes and extol the virtues of married love. Married love may not always burn with the heat and passion of that first stage of romantic love, but neither does it burn out easily. And the consistent warmth it provides is there on the coldest of days and darkest of nights.

A love Full of Memories

Many years ago, my dear friend Sarah went through some devastating trials in her marriage when her husband of twenty-five years betrayed her trust in some alarming and shocking ways. As Sarah's world spiraled out of control, divorce became not only a defensible, but a recommended resolution.

However, Sarah remained committed to her husband. Why? For several key reasons; First and foremost, Sarah's husband sought her forgiveness and was willing to do whatever it took to reconcile. Second, Sarah and her husband shared twenty-five years of memories.

You may be tempted to scorn the latter as inadequate. But don't underestimate the depth and beauty of a love filled with memories.

When Sarah and David married, she was nineteen and he was a lanky twenty-two-year-old with no formal education. With the odds stacked against them, they made their way in the world- together. Twenty-five years later, no one but David understood the laughter and secrets they shared in those first years. No one else could ever appreciate how hard they worked to stay together in those difficult beginning years.

David knew all the stories... because he was in all the stories. Together they designed and built a home, raised three children, took family camping trips, planned and paid for all three of their daughters' weddings, and survived a bout with cancer. They cared for and eventually buried their elderly parents. They threw parties, took trips to the beach, disciplined naughty kids, and weathered financial hardships through the lean years. They fought... they laughed... they prayed... they cried. No one else was woven into Sarah's life like David.

This is a love full of memories. This is a love worth fighting for. In the midst of marital devastation, Sarah chose to fight.

The Value of Comfortable Love

Comfortable love is like coming home after a hard day's work to the smell of beef stew simmering in the Crock-Pot. Comfortable love is like changing out of a business suit into your favorite jeans. Comfortable love is like coming in from a raging winter storm to a cozy home warmed by a crackling fire.

In a day and age where the siren song of modern media promises men and women true and lasting happiness based on their income, material possessions, or fitness level- marriage offers us comfortable love.

Yesterday was our twenty-third wedding anniversary. My husband and I will go out to dinner next Saturday night to celebrate, and then snuggle on the couch to watch a movie together. And this is perfect. This is enough. This is my marriage.

You may be underwhelmed by our celebration plans. Maybe you're wondering, Where's the trip to Paris or the diamond anniversary band (like on the television commercials)?

Well... . That's just not Jeff's style. But he more than makes up for it. Because while unrealistic expectations and perfection in body and home are foisted upon us at every turn, my husband accepts me as I am. In a culture where an extreme makeover promises fulfillment and happiness, my husband offers lasting love and enduring security. Comfortable love does not dictate that I make a mad dash from the bed to the bathroom so that I can "put on my face" before greeting Jeff each morning.

Warmth and security are found in the unconditional love of my husband, and I take comfort in the knowledge that I'm not still auditioning for the part. Comfortable love accepts and embraces all that your husband or wife is, letting the light of your attention illuminate their good qualities.

The media rarely casts comfortable love in a good light. Instead, it's portrayed as boring and predictable. But that just isn't true! In the tumultuous time we live in, your marriage, home life, and relationship with God offer the joy, security, and comfort you crave.

Hopefully as you've read this article you've begun to see your Valentine with fresh eyes. If so, what have you seen? That this is the same man you fell in love with... the same guy you walked breathlessly down the aisle toward... the man you share your meals, your dreams, your children, and your bed with.

He's yours. I challenge you today to esteem and value the memorable and comfortable love that is your marriage. And as you do you will find your eyes opened to the treasure that has been right under your nose the whole time...

Behold your Valentine!

© Paula Friedrichsen
Paula Friedrichsen is a conference speaker and the author of "The Man You Always Wanted is The One You Already Have" (Multnomah 2007). She lives with her husband and daughter in Northern California.


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