I don’t remember the last time Emily and I did anything for Valentine’s Day. It might have been in college when we were first dating, and we felt like we had to do something. We didn’t, of course, but we thought we did thanks to far too many very special episodes of various television shows.
For us, the biggest thing about Valentine’s Day is discount candy the day after (which I buy in abundance for Emily). This is not because I’m cheap, but because I know my wife: she doesn’t care about the day, but she appreciates the chocolate.
In three months, it will be our tenth wedding anniversary. In January, we passed 16 years together. We’ve been through a lot of Valentine’s Days. And in that time, neither of us have resented not getting a card or a box of chocolates on the day or going out on a date at a filled-to-capacity restaurant. Forgetting these things haven’t put our relationship in danger.
But I’ll tell you what will: if we forget what our relationship is about. See, marriage isn’t supposed to only be a loving relationship between a man and woman (though it is). It’s much deeper than that—it is to be a reflection of the gospel itself. I love the way John Piper describes this in This Momentary Marriage: A Parable of Permanence:
Marriage is not mainly about being or staying in love. It’s mainly about telling the truth with our lives. It’s about portraying something true about Jesus Christ and the way he relates to his people. It is about showing in real life the glory of the gospel.… Marriage is meant by God to put that gospel reality on display in the world.
That’s really it, isn’t it? This is why Paul wrote in Ephesians 5:25-26 that husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church, who gave himself to make her holy. And we do that in the every day stuff of life. It’s getting my shoes on at midnight to take out the trash on a freezing cold night when we’ve left it too long. It’s working a job that maybe isn’t your dream one so you can keep a roof over your family’s head. It’s making socially awkward decisions together, and a thousand things besides.
“Marriage is meant by God to put that gospel reality on display in the world.” A holiday doesn’t do that. At least, it doesn’t for us. Romance is good, and I’m all for it but it’s not the end-all, be all. Everyday faithfulness is always going to be better than Valentine’s Day. If you’re desiring to put the gospel on display in your marriage, it’s working together, submitting to one another, encouraging and strengthening one another in the day-to-day moments of life that really makes the difference.