Opinion | Off the Cuff

What’s love got to do with it?

Making flamboyant gestures once a year and spending the rest of it taking each other for granted isn’t exactly guaranteed to keep the fires alive

  • By Vanaja Rao Stone Editor
  • Published: 20:00 February 14, 2013
  • Gulf News

I am convinced St Valentine is not just turning but spinning in his grave. He would be struck dumb if he could see the hype and hoopla observed on what is believed to be his death anniversary. This article may hurt the feelings of die-hard romantics, but please let me stress that I do believe in love and am touched by all that mushy stuff that makes most men want to pull out their hair. Is that why there are so many with so little on their pate?

It’s just that for the past month, any magazine I have skimmed through has been full of Valentine’s Day trivia, with suggestions for gifts that are supposed to be an expression of one’s love.

I have no problem with demonstrations of affection, but does this have to always hurt the pocket? The ‘For Him’ and ‘For Her’ pages are filled with the most expensive jewellery and gadgetry that one gets the idea that the higher the price, the more vocal one’s expression of love. Whatever happened to spending quality-time together, taking the effort to appreciate one’s partner verbally and dwelling on all that makes that person special instead of feeling pressured to shop for that perfect expression of your love?

Why can’t we bring ourselves to simply saying “I love you”, instead of searching for something that supposedly symbolises the depth of our feelings? Or, if you’re not good with words, surely you can show what you feel in so many different ways without having to break the bank?

You could make a promise to be more attentive to your loved one’s needs and lend him or her your ear whenever they feel the need to blow off steam. Or you could decide to make that person’s favourite meal every weekend instead of once in a blue moon. Do something spontaneous like going for a long drive on a whim and try not to dwell on the dishes in the sink. Try to rediscover that first flush of love when just being together was more than enough and there was no need for anyone or anything else. If being alone is difficult with children underfoot, make it a family affair. Show the children that you still care for each other by being considerate to each other and more tolerant of shortcomings. There’s a lot they can learn by merely watching.

There are so many couples who complain about the romance being snuffed out after years of marriage and responsibility. They speak wistfully of the time when their partner would go out of his or her way to do something thoughtful or to show that they cared. This could be anything from leaving love notes in lunch boxes (yes, I do understand that this is an archaic practice when the workplace canteen is so much more convenient) to organising a surprise dinner for two or tickets to a concert of a favourite singer or band.

Making flamboyant gestures once a year and spending the rest of it taking each other for granted isn’t exactly guaranteed to keep the fires alive. However, we are lured by the power of pictures and words as we are told time and again that diamonds are a girl’s best friend and the bigger the bauble the greater the gratitude. You get the impression that if you cannot afford the best, then you lack the ability to win in the wooing stakes.

I’m certainly not an anti-gifts (as many in my family will testify) kind of a person, but there is a difference between the complete commercialisation of a special day and making someone feel special.

So, my advice is — go ahead and celebrate love, but don’t make a production out of it.

Gulf News
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