Valentines day is a strange beast. One of those ‘celebrations’. St Valentine, who the holiday is a celebration of is one of those catholic saints that has a dubious and conflicting history, much like St Patrick. Not really officially a saint but any kind of popular figure to further the ‘mission’ of the Catholic Church. Of course in our modern commercial world any kind of opportunity to milk money from people is to be expected.
So what does Valentines day look like for the Joneses? Early rise and prepare for work. Teach mostly apathetic young people all day, appointment with Physiotherapist in the afternoon and then a long conversation with a family member about a complex legal / inheritance issue we are dealing with. Some chocolate on the couch and then early bed. Mr Jones spent the day mucking around with his garden, shopping for groceries and spending time with his elderly parents.
Hollywood, or rather Netflix, would have us believe that finding “The One” is a milestone in our lives that leads to eternal happiness. That marriage should be based on love. Because without love marriage is empty and meaningless and doomed to fail. Hallmark and the promoters of modern Valentines Day would have us believe that love and romance looks like red roses and overpriced oddly flavoured chocolate.
But many of us know that happy marriages are not based on buying the largest bunch of roses. The practical cynic in me cringes at the thought of how much roses cost in Australia in 2023. For reference a dozen red roses from Interflora cost around two hundred dollars. The biologist in me cannot reconcile the industry that produces out of season, non-native flowers for this festival of commercialism. (I am trying to stop myself from ranting here. Clearly it is not working.) After being married, somewhat successfully, for around 25 years I can say that I have not missed red roses on Valentines Day. I would not say that having them would have made me happier or more invested in my marriage.
What does define and re-enforce my marriage? Weird stuff. Mr Jones has recently discovered Shein. And while it is a fast fashion outlet that also grinds my environmentalist gears a little I have been the recipient of some cute little dresses that are quite sexy. I wear them frequently so the fast fashion is negated slightly. I like that he tries to find things we both like me to wear and that in doing so he is re-affirming his belief in my attractiveness. On his part he has said he likes that I am handy to have in an emergency. He struggles to be decisive and when an elderly relative is passed out in the bathroom it is handy to have a bossy, take charge kind of wife to call the ambulance and give instructions.
It is the every day that makes things work in a relationship. The daily looks that say “It’s OK I’ve got your back here.” and the safe space to say “Really! Can you not leave your stinky shoes next to the couch.” There is no perfect marriage. Just a relationship that works and builds a place of security and a well of stuff, emotional and otherwise, that you can draw on. Red roses do not fill the well. Cadubury’s chocolate on the couch while you are watching Netflix? I think does. You can buy a lot of blocks of chocolate for two hundred dollars.
Fun fact that I learned while reading about St Valentine. He is also the patron saint of beekeepers. Not sure what the connection is there. Maybe next year you should buy some locally sourced, organic honey for your lover.