Love has nothing to do with gifts or meals or surprises – or even, at times, liking one another.
For all its power, love is the great unknowable, and love between couples, particularly those who have been together for a long while, is a vital, real, but often undetectable backdrop to the actual business of the day. If I have forgotten how much I love my wife (and I do sometimes), then all the chocolates and roses in the world aren’t going to remind me or reassure her. Also, sitting in a restaurant with a roomful of couples sipping champagne and wondering why they don’t feel the way they are meant to strikes me as a depressing way of spending the night when I could be sitting down alongside said wife with her be-socked feet on my lap, watching Fargo with a box of Jaffa Cakes. It isn’t romantic, but it’s part of a love more profound and resilient than anything I had when I was 21 and trying to work out some novel way to wow whatever girlfriend I had in those days. I am not so curmudgeonly as to suggest that Valentine’s Day is a waste of time – although I do tend to think that most occasions you are instructed to enjoy by the greetings card industry tend not to live up to the occasion, simply by dint of the hype with which they come burdened. For those in a relationship who possess sufficient imagination and sensitivity to come up with the “right” gesture (a box of chocolates and a bunch of roses doesn’t really cut the ice any more), it can be a touching occasion, even if it is devalued by being compulsory.
But in truth, it’s often a disappointment – and that’s for those who actually have, or receive, a Valentine.
By Tim Lott / continue