Fifteen rays of love: The inspiration of Saint Valentine
The day of romantic love, 14th of February is the time for romantic inspiration. Where does this inspiration come from?
Is this inspiration from the Christian martyrs who died on this day because of their love in Christ? Maybe this inspiration comes from the Roman festival of Lupercalia during which fertility was promoted through blood sacrifices, nakedness, sexual promiscuity and female whipping. Perhaps it is an erotic inspiration from the Fifty Shades trilogy fuelling extraordinary sexual appetites? Finally, it may be inspired by the desirable gift so much promoted and illuminated by the constant advertisements and shops’ offers.
Whatever the inspiration the relationship will embody its nature. The present-day relationships are overwhelmed externally by economic pressures, career demands and societal agendas. Internally they suffer domestic violence, various forms of abuse and extramarital affairs. If this is the fate of romantic relationships why then are they still being desired and promisingly depicted in various forms of art?
Obviously, there is something which attracts people to form romantic relationships. The attraction can be described in positive terms as the desire for family, sexual intimacy, children, companionship, partnership, mutual support and encouragement. Why do these noble intentions turn so many times into disastrous relationships and ruin lives? My suggestion in light of the St. Valentine’s Day is that this is due to the inspiration which shapes the relationship.
"The day of romantic love is totally commercialised promoting the need of material goods to express and satisfy the love in the relationship."
The couple is searching for the magical gift which will somehow patch up the holes in the relationship and glue its pieces together. Believing the inner desire for total commitment and mutual love can be satisfied with an extravagant gift. When this shiny and desirable item is received for a moment, the person may believe that this relational satisfaction is achieved. However, the misconception is revealed when the moment of magic is over and the crisis re-emerges. Therefore, the inspiration cannot be material.
Could it be the inspiration of unlimited erotic explorations underlined by extramarital love, unfaithfulness to the partner and gratification of personal sexual urges? Isn’t that simply the satisfaction of egoistic drive to obtain more because of the desire for more with no limit and no end?
We do not talk any more of sexually transmitted diseases as these are supposedly managed by available protections, information and advice. However, what remains is the sexual violence and the use of money for the pursuit of sexual pleasure. We may add sexual addiction, pornography and modern slavery here. Furthermore, what about the use of drugs and other substances for sexual manipulation, control and rape. It is apparent that the inspiration of explorative eroticism is not the one to provide a healthy and satisfied romantic relationship.
Finally, the inspiration may be defined spiritually through the understanding of the love in these Christian martyrs. They died for this love which makes their testimony about this inspiration honest and powerful. The Christian narrative defines this love as God’s unconditional grace given to all man through Christ’s sacrifice. This love when embraced wholeheartedly through faith in Jesus brings forgiveness and reconciliation with God.
These two attributes of love are so crucial for a healthy relationship. When a marital relationship is built upon Christ’s love it is resourced by this love to develop in a covenant commitment of mutual trust, respect and support in every sphere of life. I believe that this is the inspiration which will bring the fifteen rays of love to make a truly romantic marital relationship.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” - (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a, NIV)
The importance of spirituality for psychological health is supported not only by religious traditions but also by scientific research. Practising healthy spirituality improves personal wellbeing and strengthens marital relationships. The role of spirituality in the individual and couples counselling is essential.
Conscience therapy, an innovative model of talking support that I have formulated, explores the empowering role of spirituality to conscience leading to the emotional, cognitive, motivational and behavioural transformation in personal and marital life.
The relational nature of Christian spirituality defined by God’s unconditional love and faith in Jesus leads to conscientious rejuvenation. The latter shapes marital dynamics with mutual fulfilment, commitment and stability even during challenging times.
This article was written by counsellor, Dr Yordan Zhekov.
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