How to Have a Great Valentine’s Day: Connect, Don’t Expect

Valentine’s Day is a day that evokes a variety of emotions. Some look forward to it with excitement about celebrating their love. Others dread it because they are alone and this day is a reminder of this. And then there are those who are in a relationship but hate Valentine’s Day because of the pressure to make some great romantic gesture.

Ironically, the origins of St. Valentine’s Day have more to do with martyrdom than romance. The legend states that St. Valentine was imprisoned and later executed for illegally marrying Christian couples and helping persecuted Christians. This is a beautiful picture of love–a sacrificial act that helped bring others together.

What is love?

Fictional stories also teach us about love. In a time of great social change right at the turn of the 19th century, E.M. Forster wrote a book called Howard’s End. In this story, the main characters have very conflicting views on radical ideas such as social justice, the women’s vote, and other topics. The two main families, though very different, end up connecting in a way that brings these viewpoints into conflict.  The Wilcoxes are rich capitalists with an aversion to emotion and a belief in a strong work ethic. The Schlegels consist of three orphaned adults in their twenties.  They are creative and progressive, relishing an intellectual life.

Through a turn of events, the father of the Wilcox family (the most opinionated and loud of the Wilcox clan) is widowed and falls in love with Margaret Schlegel (the eldest of the Schlegel family). Margaret’s younger sister, Helen, is horrified. Here is this man who speaks against the women’s vote, who shuts down emotions, and who has little sympathy for those who suffer. What could Margaret possibly see in him?

Connecting, Instead of Changing

In a touching scene in the BBC’s rendition of the novel, Margaret explains that she is not marrying him to change him–she only wants to make a connection.

Though the novel goes into much more detail concerning their odd and complicated relationship, the movie ends showing them both happy, though both still different. It is not your traditional love story.  He is much older than her, and they seem to have little in common. She is bold and authentic, surprising him constantly. They have totally different worldviews that neither is willing to bend on. And, yet, a connection is made.

This is, of course, a fictional account, but it hits on something important that is often overlooked when considering relationships. Sometimes, the best way to love someone is to come with the purpose of connection instead of transformation. What if we didn’t approach our spouse or loved one with the intent to change them but instead came to them simply to connect in some way?

Read the rest here.

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