Valentines Day is for celebrating romance

Published 11:24 pm Saturday, February 11, 2012

Valentine’s Day, unlike other holidays, was not officially set up by the government. Actually, it came about in spite of opposition from the government.

In the third century Emperor Claudius II saw that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families and decided to outlaw marriage for young men. Valentine, a priest who served in Rome, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and secretly performed marriages for young lovers. When Valentine’s actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be hanged.

While he was in prison awaiting execution Valentine fell in love with the blind daughter of the jailer. His deep faith and his love for her was credited with healing her blindness. Just before he was executed he signed a farewell message to her saying, “From your Valentine.” Since that day lovers have observed Valentine’s Day by exchanging love messages.

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With novels, movies, and the internet filling the airwaves with erotic messages, a man would do well to remember that romance for a woman might not be the same as it is for a man.

The difference seems to have puzzled men throughout the ages. King Solomon had a multitude of wives and concubines yet listed “The way of a man with a maid” as one of the four things he was unable to understand. Proverbs 30:19. After forty years of psychoanalyzing women Sigmund Freud wondered “What do they want?”. Today marriage therapists have come to agree with John Gray who titled his book and coined the phrase, “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus.”

Men, by nature, tend to separate life events into compartments. We see our work, our family, our hobbies, and our recreation as separate areas of life. Our work is in one compartment, our contacts with our families in another, our recreation is in yet another compartment and somehow the compartments are distinct and apart.

Now, women are a different story. They go through the same events but experience them in a different way. Each compartment has an emotional connection with all of the others. Their emotions are strongly connected to their minds and their bodies. When one compartment is touched, there is a chain reaction that affects every fiber of their being.

For example, I just passed through the check-out counter at the grocery store where the cashier was clearly unhappy. She might be mad at her husband or at a fellow worker or the boss. Whatever the cause she sorely needed to withdraw and regroup. Instead of the usual social interchange, I quickly paid cash for the groceries, never got her personal attention— only a flat “Have a nice day” and mentally tiptoed away. Her workplace box was connected to her relationship box and her social system was clearly out of sync.

While we men tend to separate sex from everything else in our lives our wives experience sex in relation to everything in their lives. A woman feels used, even prostituted, if she doesn’t experience emotional intimacy with sexual intimacy. It is no wonder that sex is the most troublesome area in many marriages. For a woman, emotional intimacy is so rich, so fulfilling that a wounded marriage can become healthy only to the degree her husband respects her need for harmony. Emotional intimacy does not replace the need for sex, but for

the average woman the emotional need is at least as intense as the physical need. When that need is met love -making is a forgone conclusion.

C.S. Lewis wrote “we look for fulfillment outside marriage when we have not allowed God to show us the depths of joy and happiness that He can provide in our own marriage. When we follow God’s plan for marriage we wonder why anyone would ever seek satisfaction with someone besides our marriage partner.”

To summarize, a woman has a natural, God-given need to connect emotionally. When that need is ignored or denied she feels that her husband is only using her to relieve his physical needs and as a result, neither of them enjoys a satisfying experience. Not surprisingly, when a man responds to his wife’s need for emotional intimacy he also reaches a level of satisfaction that is unique and not available otherwise. So, if you want to connect emotionally with your wife listen when she shares her interests and concerns. She is not asking you to agree with her or to solve her problems, just that you respect her feelings.

As a final thought, keep in mind that words are more powerful to your wife than they might sound to you. If the words are harsh they are as painful to her psyche a fist would be to her body but, if the words are nurturing, they feed her soul. She will remember and cherish a sincere compliment or a simple “I love you.” A card, a bouquet of flowers, a box of chocolates and an evening out might offer an answer to Freud’s question, “What do they want?”