By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird
What is Love, said one anonymous blogger? “It is a wildly misunderstood although highly desirable malfunction of the heart which weakens the brain, causes eyes to sparkle, cheeks to glow, blood pressure to rise and the lips to pucker.”
Shakespeare wrote: “Love is a smoke made with the fume of sighs. Being purged, a fire sparkling in lovers’ eyes. Being vexed, a sea nourished with lovers tears. What is it else? A madness most discreet, a choking gall and a preserving sweet.”
The famous Pirate Captain Blackbeard was a firm believer in marriage. Some say that he had fourteen wives in different ports. Howard Hughes as a modern-day pirate reportedly had over 250 partners/girlfriends stashed in different locations, many which falsely believed that they were married to Hughes. Perhaps this is why Marilyn Monroe sadly commented: “A wise girl kisses but doesn’t love, listens but doesn’t believe, and leaves before she is left.”
Despite all the cynicism and marital meltdown, North Americans still spend $13 billion on Valentines Day gifts, including 200 million roses, 40 million heart-shaped candy boxes, and $3 billion on jewelry.
We live in an age when many couples wake up with each other, and then try to figure out whether or not they want a commitment. Given the ambivalent procrastination of our post-modern culture, it is not surprising that some couples are still stuck on the way to the altar even after their second child. Some want to be completely financially secure first, even to the point of having all the money for their dream Hawaii honeymoon. Without that, they say, marital commitment is just unthinkable.
The biblical position is that ‘true love waits’. The confusion of our culture does make true love wait, not for sex, but for marriage. When God’s standards for intimacy are disregarded, the look-alike solutions become more and more ambivalent. Even living together is now seen as too committed by some young couples. All this leaves many young people jaded and detached, with ever higher standards of who might ever qualify as their future marital partner.
In the movie Romancing the Stone, Joan Wilder a romance writer meets Jack Colton who violates every one of her imaginary ideas of what a real man will act like. Romancing the Stone reminds us that real romance involves the messiness and disappointments of everyday life. Dr Karl Menninger, the famous psychiatrist, said: “Love cures people, both the ones who give it and the ones who receive it.”
Eighteen years ago, I wrote a Deep Cove Crier article about Marriage Encounter in which I wrote the following words: “Inside the heart of each and every one of us there is a longing to be understood by someone who really cares. When a person is understood, he or she can put up with almost anything in the world.” Recently I discovered that those words have now been posted on hundreds of Romance websites http://bit.ly/35E4or Why would so many Romance websites be posting my words?
My hunch, as Dr Gil Stieglitz puts it, is that one of the deepest needs of wives is to be truly understood by their husbands. Many men mistakenly think that this is impossible. It is our job as husbands to carefully study our wives that we know them even better than they may know themselves.
Dr Gil Stieglitz tells us in his video series ‘The Five Problems of Marriage’ that one of the top needs of wives is for romance, to be nurtured and pursued. Some husbands don’t realize that they still need to date their wives, even after they are finally married to them. To some men, dating their wives is unthinkable. It would be like trying to get on a bus that they are already on.
Alfred Lord Tennyson romantically wrote: “If I had a flower for every time I thought of you, I could walk in my garden forever.” Romance is not an option. It is fundamental in any healthy marriage. If we have not been romancing our wife lately, she may be suspicious of our initial efforts. It may feel like we are romancing a stone, a stony heart. That is where perseverance and gentleness are so vital in the pursuit.
My wife finds it very romantic when I take out the garbage and do the dishes. Your wife needs to know that she is the most beautiful woman on earth, that she is a precious gift of God to you. Romance is saying, like Robert Browning, to your wife: “Grow old along with me; the best is yet to be.”
The Great Physician of our souls said: “This is my commandment that you love one another. No greater love has anyone than to lay your life down for your friends. The Good Book says that he that does not love doesn’t know God, because God is love. Pearl Buck the famous novelist wrote: “Love alone could waken love.”
Why are women spending so many billions of dollars each year on romance novels? Largely because there is an unmet need in their life that only you as their husband can fully meet. Your wife is waiting for you to romance her, to win her, to woo her. What are you waiting for?
The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin
-author of the award-winning book Battle for the Soul of Canada
-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier
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