Tomorrow is Valentine's Day and a day to express love. Stores are pushing us to do that with cards, flowers and chocolate. Somehow we have gotten the notion that romantic love is the epitome of love. It's not. That's one aspect of love but there's a whole lot more to love than that.
Love is a quality not limited to romantic relationships. It is needed every day of the year and by everyone, child, teenager, adult, single, or married. A person who is not loved by anyone or does not love anyone is severely handicapped and will suffer emotionally. We all need to love and be loved.
I grew up in a family that did not say "I love you" to each other. The only time I remember my mother saying those words to me was when she was on her deathbed. But I knew she loved me long before she said it. My family expressed love in actions rather than words. I knew my family cared and I could count on them to be there when I needed help.
I don't need flowers and chocolate on Valentine's Day to know my husband loves me. It's what he does all year that conveys the message. Without that, getting flowers and chocolate on that one day of the year would have no meaning.
Young people who are looking for a life partner can mistake infatuation for love. True love does not come in a blinding flash that sets your heart racing and makes you tingle. It grows softly until one day you realize he/she has become part of your life and you will function more efficiently together than separately. This does not mean that there will be no heart-skipping moments, but that the relationship did not begin with and is not built on those emotions.
On their wedding day, a young couple typically is blind to the bumps and curves life will throw at them. They start out full of hope and happiness. But before long, life becomes reality as they pick up the responsibilities of maintaining a home. And if children are added to the mix it becomes more challenging. Unless love is the foundation of the marriage, it will begin to crack and crumble.
We had our share of bumps and curves in life but our love and commitment to each other carried us through. The hardest times made us cling together more tightly instead of breaking apart. The longer you live with a person the better you understand them. You learn how they will respond in a certain situation and what they are likely to say before the words are out of their mouth. You don't need the romantic dinners and flowers because you are comfortable and secure in your relationship.
Love is a verb, not a noun. It's something you do, not what you say. And that is true whether you're married or single. Every person you know or meet is an opportunity to put love into action. Go ahead and show love on Valentine's Day, but don't miss the opportunities you have the other 364 days of the year. "To love and be loved is the greatest joy on earth."