Yesterday was Valentine’s Day, but after the dinner out is over, the flowers fade and the chocolates have been consumed, whither romance?
Historians and sociologists trace the celebration of romantic love to the Middle Ages. Of course, it has always existed in fact, but before that time, marriages tended to be arranged by parents for very practical purposes with little consideration for their offsprings’ feelings or desires. In some countries, this tradition remains the norm to this day.
In any event, the Bible seems to offer a high standard for married folk to live up to. How can a couple keep romance going for decades given the pressures of jobs, kids, Netflix and Facebook?
We first turn to the Rev. Matthew Brackman, pastor of Texas City’s Peace Lutheran Church, whose nuptials were celebrated in this space some nine years ago.
“It is good and healthy to have periods of romance with flowers, candy, and other “romantic gestures,” Brackman said. “These can refresh feelings and strengthen bonds of love that are easily taken for granted. However, these romantic gestures are not the most essential to keeping love alive within a marriage.”
He goes on to explain that traditional Christian teaching holds that love is a choice, an action and not just a feeling.
“We choose to love and choose to give of ourselves to our husband or wife,” Brackman explained. “It does not seem overly romantic, but my wife Sheri feels loved when I do the dishes for her and other chores around the house.”
And in turn, his wife offers back rubs, a significant solace after a day of pastor challenges and concerns.
What else? Could attending worship together prove an elixir for marital tedium?
“From my own experience and that of numerous pastors I know, it seems that couples who come to church together have better marriages and significantly lower their chances of divorce,” Brackman added. “I would underscore coming to church together. In his house our Lord binds us to him with his word and in receiving his body and blood for the forgiveness of our sins. A husband and wife who receive these gifts together grow closer to one another as well as closer to their God.”
The Rev. Bob DeGray, pastor of Friendswood’s Trinity Fellowship, has a slightly longer baseline. He and his wife Gail have been married for almost four decades. She said that excitement was not the sustainer of their union, but little things tended to be important.
“We plan to spend our Monday’s together, often including a date in the evening,” she said. “We work side by side as often as we can. We text little notes back and forth. We travel together when we can — often on family or church business. Bob follows me on the ‘find my friends’ app. I find that endearing.”
Her husband added, “We laugh together quite a bit. We talk together even when it is hard.
“Well, we yell very, very little.”
We’ll close with a quote from the late Rev. Billy Graham. He said, “The word ‘romance,’ according to the dictionary, means excitement, adventure, and something extremely real. Romance should last a lifetime.”
Next week in Our Faith: Advice on preparing for the worst possible event your congregation could experience from an expert who conducts shooting drills for houses of worship.