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Posted: March 1, 2018 12:35 p.m.
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Love serves the beloved

The flowers have wilted and been thrown away. The chocolates have all been eaten and the box is gone. That special dress has been dry-cleaned and is hanging in a plastic bag in the closet.

Since Valentine’s Day loving couples have had disagreements, spats and even arguments. What happened to the happy feelings and undying love celebrated a few weeks ago? What happened to “I love you”? 

Life’s what happened. 

Love is emotional, but it’s not just about emotions. Love generates powerful feelings, but we can get very confused by our feelings. Mature love is far more than flowers and chocolates. Mature love is about commitment, not simply pleasure, connection or companionship.

Have you ever known a couple who has been married fifty years or more? They don’t act like kids. Sometimes they may even sound harsh or angry when they talk to each other. They get excited about other things than romance or fun. 

They can often finish each other’s sentences with 100% accuracy. They see or hear something and, without either speaking a word, they’re smiling to each other or sharing a silent tear because of a shared memory.

Ask them if they’ve ever had difficult times in their marriage, and they’ll probably tell you about struggles or when they considered divorce – or homicide. They’ll remember when they were young and in love, but, while they still love each other, it doesn’t look or feel the same as it did fifty years ago.

They may even tell you they didn’t celebrate St. Valentine’s Day this year – or any year since 1986 - and won’t be the least bit embarrassed about that. But they’ll probably they’ll say they love each other more today than they did fifty years ago.

What happened to their love? It worked its way through hard times and hurt feelings. It changed. It grew deeper, richer, fuller and stronger.

Love cares more about the person who is loved than the person who loves. Love desires to build up, strengthen and serve the beloved - even if it’s inconvenient, difficult or painful. Love gives, not takes.

Mature love doesn’t need an annual pep rally. It makes every day a celebration of love, because it makes every day a celebration of the one who is loved. Mature lovers will still enjoy special days and events (maybe even Valentine’s Day), but they won’t need them to prove to themselves or anyone else that they love one another.

In the musical, Fiddler on the Roof, Tevye asks his wife, Golde, if she loves him. At first she’s confused by the question, but sings, “Do I love you? For twenty-five years I've washed your clothes, cooked your meals, cleaned your house, given you children, milked the cow… For twenty-five years I've lived with him, fought with him, starved with him. Twenty-five years my bed is his. If that's not love, what is?” Tevye asks, “Then you love me?” and Golde responds, “I suppose I do.”

That’s a picture of mature love. Don’t worry about it if today doesn’t feel like Valentine’s Day. It can feel even better than that.

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