Christian history marks St. Valentine's Day with the separate martyrdoms of two individuals, one a priest and the other a bishop. Tradition traces the exchanging of cards and love tokens to an early European belief that the second week of February was when birds began to mate.
Twentieth-century history has linked Valentine's Day with Al Capone and the massacre on the North Side of Chicago. History brings us today to associate Valentine's Day with love, romance and massacre. Pretty much like marriage.
Joking and poking fun at marriage is easy. The majority of popular sitcoms are centered on problems that come from marriage. Even those of us who are extremely happy and satisfied in our marriages joke about it. Perhaps it is the butt of jokes because it is an easy target. Maybe that's because marriage is a mysterious, extremely complicated and ever-changing life-long relationship. In the moment we think we have it figured out, we go to sleep and wake up to discover marriage has changed again.
Everything changes when a couple gets married. Research shows that couples who live together before marriage have a higher rate of divorce than couples who do not. Why? The mysterious answer is that everything changes when a couple marries. Lifelong, Valentine's Day-inspired marriage requires continuous work because a healthy marriage relationship is one that changes as the couple grows together.
While in sitcoms marriage is the punch line and a trap to be avoided, in scripture it is presented as a blessing from the Lord. Proverbs 18:22 reads, "The man who finds a wife finds a treasure, and he receives favor from the Lord."
The treasure is not just wrapped up in the wife but in the marriage that comes with finding her. The real treasure is marriage. Like all treasures that are discovered they need to be polished, protected and valued.
Every now and then the relationship needs to be looked at from a variety of angles, brushing off the dust, applying a little polish.
An ever-changing marriage demands that the sacred relationship is protected. The only way for marriage to be protected and polished is for the ones in the marriage to value it.
This Valentine's Day weekend, try not to just pass a trinket of affection but really share with your spouse how much you value them and your marriage.
Rob Hurtgen is a husband, father and serves as the associate pastor at the First Baptist Church in Jackson.