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Happy Hearts

Is Valentine's Day good for your heart?

If, like me, you occasionally adopt the ‘bah, humbug’ approach to certain traditional but otherwise commercially driven calendar celebrations, then you’d be wise to assume I’d scoff in utter contempt of all things ‘Valentinesy’. Isn't it just another opportunity for the card companies, florists and local restaurants to up their prices and claim the remainder of our credit card limits? Not to mention the associated stress; If you’re single like I was for a million years, experiences of Valentine’s Day-mania can range from sending yourself a card or a bunch of roses (“honestly I’ve no idea who they’re from”) to feigning indifference and, eventually, opining with fake indignance that Valentine’s Day only appeals to shallow, mindless fools.

Yet, throughout those scenarios and emotional rodeo years, deep down, all I ever wanted was a genuine Valentine’s card (i.e. not from my Mum) to prove to myself and the rest of the world that I wasn’t alone.

When I finally did meet a nice chap  ̶  i.e. nice enough to introduce to one’s mother, nice enough to be seen in public with, nice enough to talk to friends about without lying, and nice enough to be one’s self with, I said to him pretty much on our first date “if we’re still together on Valentine’s Day, would you send me a card?”. By the second date, I ventured more deal-breaker questions including “How important is football?” and by the fifth date, confidence bubbling in a cauldron of possibilities, the finale of sliding door questions: “What do you think of marriage?”.

It’s not about being demanding or high maintenance, it’s more about being honest about what you need and feeling confident enough to go for it, no matter how pointless or trivial it may seem to others. And, ultimately, does that person care enough to give you that?

I’m sure there are people out there who dig their heels in purely out of principle and refuse to celebrate Valentine’s Day even though they know that their partner might like to. There are people who think that their principles about everything are more important than basic kindness. And whilst I acknowledge the value of principles, it’s sometimes healthier for your heart to just 'let it go' and be considerate instead. After all, a Valentine’s card is just an opportunity to say “I love you”. What’s wrong with that?

By the way, his answers to my questions were “I love football” and (to my additional horror) “I never want to get married”. Luckily for me he changed his mind, about marriage at least. And, like the commercially-brainwashed but romantic saps that we are, we swap Valentine’s cards each year… and go to football matches too, though thankfully not often.

So, in ode to real love, I share with you a reading from our wedding taken from Captain Corelli’s Mandolin (Louis de Berniéres):

“Love is a temporary madness, it erupts like volcanoes and then subsides. And when it subsides, you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion, that is just being "in love", which any fool can do. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident.”

Happy Valentine's Day

Author: Michelle Burt

13th February 2019

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