Commitment Makes Every Day Valentine’s Day

by Sharon Brooks Hodge

 

Sharon Brooks Hodge  is speaking at the Better Marriages Conference: Educating Couples, Building Relationships  July 11-14, 2013 in Raleigh, NC.

 

According to a survey conducted earlier this month by the Retail Advertising and Marketing Association, 53 percent of women would end their relationship if they didn’t get something for Valentine’s Day. Perhaps that explains why Americans spend more than $13 billion on this day associated with romantic love.  The statistic also sheds some light on the flimsy state of marriage as an institution. The common trend is to place more value on immediate gratification than on the long-term benefit of intangible expressions of love, such as commitment.

 

On average, each Valentine gift-giver is spending $116.21 to say “I love you” with cards, flowers, candy jewelry or dinner. This materialistic expression of affection might be a good way to stimulate the economy – for a day, but Valentine’s Day roses won’t keep a flower shop in business all year. Similarly, a once-a-year bouquet won’t sustain a marriage.
Material gifts are a convenient way to extend love. But material things alone will not fill the love needs of your partner for a lifetime. Popular culture attaches a high premium to the tangibles, however, that may not be what really counts. The greatest proof of love is making the commitment to be around, even when you don’t feel much like spending $116 … and 21 cents, to say what’s on your mind.

 

Black Family Preservation Group, Inc. facilitates a program called What’s Love Got to Do With It? to prepare young people for marriage. The analogy that we use for 4th graders also is relevant to college students. Mature, married folks understand it, too.  Love is like the mortar that holds the bricks of a house in place. It is a critical part of the foundation. Yet the mortar alone would not make a house that could sustain severe weather.

 

Most marriage education programs advise couples to reaffirm their fidelity continually. In the PREPARE/ENRICH curriculum, it is part of the recommended daily dialogue. In the Program for Strong African-American Marriages, one of the exercises asks couples to consider how they would express love if their spouse only had one of the five senses.  These intangible demonstrations require a little more thought than picking up a heart-shaped sampler at the drug store.

 

That’s why true love is not getting a box of candy for Valentine’s Day; it is knowing that the person who gave you that box of candy will still be around when the last chocolate-covered cherry is gone.

 

Sharon Brooks Hodge is executive director of Black Family Preservation Group, Inc., a 501c3 organization that promotes marriage and stable, 2-parent African-American homes as the best environment for raising children.

 

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