What is true love?

Valentine’s day, 14th February…or as it is known in our house, Tuesday. I predict that it won’t register anything on the love Richter scale.

sweets spelling out LOVE

Photo: D. Sharon Pruitt

However I do predict a fight over who has to collect our eldest from the Valentine disco. My plan is to get started on the wine early enough to rule me out of taxi duty.

St. Valentine was a martyred Christian saint, which makes celebration of romantic love feel slightly inappropriate. However I expect the spirit of martyrdom will be alive and well in many homes. Couples in long-term relationships will be having “the who is the greatest martyr contest”. You know the one where “I’m harder-done-by than you”.

I am not very good at this competition. Hubby pulls out the “Well I make the dinner every night, do all the shopping, take the bins out, sort of the bank statements, do the kids’ homework, keep the garden and tidy up after EVERYONE” card. I just nod defeat and go back to tweeting silly jokes.

It’s not that I am a completely useless human; I do my share of household tasks, it’s just I’m not that good at throwing these things back with the right amount of conviction in the heat of the martyr contest. Piece of advice and top relationship tip: witty heckle put-downs or psychoanalysis should never be tried on husbands unless you are actively trying to precipitate a divorce.

I am doubtful that any woman of a certain age in a long term relationship is interested in Valentine’s day beyond worrying about whether their kid will be emotionally scarred if they don’t get a card. I am sure there will be many a mother with a spare, written just in case their offspring is devastated by absence of said Valentine. I say, best for kids to take it on the chin early. Parental deception over fake Valentines can’t be a good thing. I find the stress of lying about Santa and the tooth fairy bad enough without finding new ways of deceiving your kids.

I have always been suspicious of overly romantic men, dramatic gestures and expensive gifts. It would seem to me that they were trying too hard to overcome some kind of inadequacy. My husband has bought me flowers on exactly one occasion in 25 years. However, I remember it well, as he chose the occasion perfectly. It was my first Mother’s day as a new exhausted mummy. Even the die-hard cynic that I am felt moved by the symbolism in this never-since repeated act. I think what most couples in long term relationship want, is not overpriced meals and heart shaped boxes of chocolates but to feel appreciated and be shown in practical ways that they are cherished.

One of my best friends had a spa day with a mate sometime after she had stopped breast-feeding her second child. After the spa day the girls went to the bar and got absolutely hammered. Her lovely husband drove from Glasgow to Edinburgh with both kids in the car to collect her. On the M8 on the way home she vomited in the car. He put her to bed and cleaned up the vomit in the car without saying a word. What is true love? This is surely a definition of it; true love cleans up your puke and doesn’t mention it the next day. True love also doesn’t make a habit of puking in the car and says thank you to the cleaner of the aforementioned puke. Strange that St. Paul left that bit out of his famous description of love in First Corinthians, Chapter 13.

As for me, on Valentine’s night, I will be hoping for a good Romcom movie, a glass of rioja and a box of left over Christmas chocolates. I do not plan to be vomiting unless forced to watch a film with Hugh Grant. Happy Valentine’s Day!