Last Sunday was Valentine’s Day in America. This holiday is becoming more and more popular, driven by the commercial side of the celebration. With the sales of chocolates, flowers, cards, and even more expensive gifts, culture commercializes romance. What is Valentine’s Day anyway?
The history of Valentine’s Day, although shrouded in mystery, is founded in a mixture of Christian and early Roman traditions. “The Catholic Church recognizes at least three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus, all of whom were martyred. One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine’s actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death” (www.history.com). Another legend tells that “an imprisoned Valentine actually sent the first ‘valentine’ greeting himself after he fell in love with a young girl—possibly his jailor’s daughter—who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter signed “From your Valentine,” an expression that is still in use today” (www.history.com). So, on Valentine’s Day, people send cards and gifts to their “Valentine.”
On this Valentine’s Day week, I want to share a thought regarding marriage. This is just one thought, not a manual on marriage. It is simply a Valentine’s Day message with married couples in mind.
This is my personal observation and is not necessarily backed up by any sociological or psychological studies. However, it is a commonly known concept. It is my observation that opposites attract and often marry. Think of some of the opposite characteristics:
- Introvert & Extrovert
- Organized & Spontaneous
- Spendthrift & Spender
- Morning Person & Night Person
- Neat & Messy
- Punctual & Tardy
- Optimist & Pessimist
I recently came across another example of how opposites attract by Dr. Gary Chapman, the author of “The Five Love Languages.” Here is what he wrote:
“When it comes to talking, all of us are affected by our personality. I have observed two basic personality types. The first I call the ‘Dead Sea.’ In the little nation of Israel, the Sea of Galilee flows south by way of the Jordan River into the Dead Sea. The Dead Sea goes nowhere. It receives, but it does not give. This personality type receives many experiences, emotions, and thoughts throughout the day. They have a large reservoir where they store that information, and they are perfectly happy not talking. If you say to those with a Dead Sea personality, ‘What’s wrong? Why aren’t you talking tonight?’ they will probably answer, ‘Nothing’s wrong. What makes you think something’s wrong?’ And that response is perfectly honest. They are content not to talk. They could drive from Chicago to Detroit and never say a word and be perfectly happy.
The other extreme is the ‘Babbling Brook.’ For this personality, whatever enters into the eye gate or the ear gate comes out the mouth gate, and there are seldom sixty seconds between the two. Whatever they see, whatever they hear, they tell. In fact, if no one is at home to talk to, they will call someone else. ‘Do you know what I saw? Do you know what I heard?’ If they can’t get someone on the telephone, they may talk to themselves because they have no reservoir. Many times a Dead Sea marries a Babbling Brook. That happens because when they are dating, it is a very attractive match.
If you are a Dead Sea and you date a Babbling Brook, you will have a wonderful evening. You don’t have to think, ‘How will I get the conversation started tonight? How will I keep the conversation flowing?’ In fact, you don’t have to think at all. All you have to do is nod your head and say, ‘Uh-huh,’ and he or she will fill up the whole evening, and you will go home saying, ‘What a wonderful person.’
On the other hand, if you are a Babbling Brook and you date a Dead Sea, you will have an equally wonderful evening because Dead Seas are the world’s best listeners. You will babble for three hours. He will listen intently to you, and you will go home saying, ‘What a wonderful person.’ You attract each other. But after five years of marriage, the Babbling Brook wakes up one morning and says, ‘We’ve been married five years, and I don’t know him.’ The Dead Sea is saying, ‘I know her too well. I wish she would stop the flow and give me a break.’
The good news is that Dead Seas can learn to talk and Babbling Brooks can learn to listen. We are influenced by our personality but not controlled by it. One way to learn new patterns is to establish a daily sharing time in which each of you will talk about three things that happened to you that day and how you feel about them”(https://www.star991.com). You can check out Gary Chapman’s ministry at – www.5lovelanguages.com)
WHEN OPPOSITES MARRY
During courtship and when you first get married, opposites tend to thrive on the differences because of the void the other persons will fill in their lives. However, after a number of years, it may not stay that way, and your difference can end up driving you up a wall, so to speak. Let me give you an example from our marriage.
DOROTHY & ALAN – OPPOSITES
My wife Dorothy and I are opposites, and after a number of years of marriage, it began to affect our relationship. I am organized yet very flexible, while she is very black and white and spontaneous. I used to say to her, “Why do you have to be so rigid, so black and white about what is right and wrong?” She used to say to me, “Why do you have to be so flexible and change all the time, or more specifically, why are you so wishy-washy?”
The answer for us came when we studied the motivational gifts of Romans 12. We discovered that, in terms of motivational gifts, I was a “facilitator”, and as such, I was more flexible. In contrast, Dorothy was a “prophetic insight” and thus more black and white. That’s how we were wired. So instead of trying to get the other person to change to be like ourselves, we were to accept our God-given differences and learn to flow together.
God gave us an example out of my experience as an architect – the example of reinforced concrete. Dorothy was like the strong steel, whereas I was like the wishy-washy concrete. Put together, like reinforced concrete, we could do great things, and by God’s grace, we did just that.
So let me challenge all married couples to reflect for a while on who they are, especially if they are opposites. See how you can flow together and how each contributes to your relationship, your family, and your home. After all, did we really want to marry someone who was a carbon copy of ourselves? It is more fun and more challenging to be married to an opposite.
A CLOSING THOUGHT
We have looked at the concept of Valentine’s Day and the practice of giving a Valentine’s card to our Valentine, but there is still more to Valentine’s Day. John Stonestreet, in a Breakpoint Message, writes: “The feast of St. Valentine should lead us to reflect on the wonder and nature of God’s love for us, and inwardly reflect on whether and how it is shaping us, and how from that love, we are able to love God and to love others. Valentinus’s response to God’s love was to give up his own life, in an attempt to re-order that which what was being disordered by the emperor” (breakpoint.org).
Remember this, the greatest Valentine message ever written is John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” This is a Valentine’s gift that all of us can receive.