Dr. Arjan Plaisier, secretary of the general synod of the Protestant Church in the Netherlands, comments on Valentine’s Day.
On February 14th it is Valentine’s Day once more. I write this comment not to urge you to run off to the shop and buy presents in order to rekindle or save your marriage or relationship. Or to start a relationship. I do however want to ask your attention for the Marriage Week. And for the fact that on February 12th for the first time a so called International Marriage Sunday has been organized.
I am not so keen on that last part. Sunday’s don’t need to be labelled as far as I am concerned, although it is not a bad idea to raise the theme of marriage and relationship on this or another Sunday. Any way Marriage Week is a fine initiative. It wants to encourage governments to have a good family policy. But it is also a means to ask attention for the importance to cherish relations. To look upon marriage or lasting relations as a gift, a precious gift, for which one should be grateful.
That two people can share life with one and other, bring joy to one and other, comfort, support, possibly bring forth and/or raise new life, all of this is a good gift from God’s hand. A gift which asks to be received in gratitude. But also to be celebrated, in order to prevent it from getting worn out.
It is a fragile happiness, fragile as life, fragile as the dedication of two people to one and other. Fragile too, because each relation is challenged and tested. Because life also has troubles, stress and dull repetition. Because people are no saints, but also bring themselves into a marriage, with all shadows and sometimes dark sides which are attaches to all of us.
Therefore the gift is also a task. Everyone who lives in a marriage or lasting relationship knows that. Sometimes it is a celebration and sometimes it is suffering. It is give and take. It is often a lot of persistence staying faithful. No quitting. No cheating. Nobody gets it for free. And it also takes a lifetime to get the hang of it. And even then it can go wrong and just not work. That too is part of life’s imperfectness.
We should support one and other more in our relations and marriages. Why should that be a lonely adventure between two people? It is a good thing that there is more attention lately for marriages within the church, for example the Marriage-courses. There are also courses suitable for non-religious couples which are being developed by the church. It is a significant assistance from the church to the people in our time. No unnecessary luxury. Because where do we still learn what it means to share life with one and other?
A marriage or lasting relationship does not need to be a lonely adventure. That is why the church is a place to bless marriages. In Gods name. A blessing to accompany us, for a lifetime.
Valentine’s Day is commerce of course. If you participate that is fine, if you don’t that is fine too. It will not save your marriage, but who knows – it might be a moment to poke fun at the other. I think a Marriage-Week to be an excellent initiative. I hope it helps. Because marriages and lasting relationships are worth it.