This Valentine’s Day, Give Extravagant Love

What makes the real difference on Valentine's Day and in your marriage? It's extravagant love, which comes first from God.

If you’d known me in high school or college, you could have heard my rant about how Valentine’s Day was a ploy used by greeting card companies, florists, and candy makers to guilt people into purchasing things they didn’t need, all to express the love they could have been expressing 364 other days of the year. I gave versions of this same rant my first several years of marriage as well.

And then I became a marriage and sex blogger.

Valentine’s Day is huuuuge in this world. So many couples celebrate this day and want fresh or practical suggestions on how to commemorate their special love. It’s a great time to speak about how to romance and honor your spouse, because people are listening.

Not to mention that sales of marriage and sex books, affiliate-linked products, and more increase this time of year. That’s just a fact. And on that note…hey, look, a great place to buy lingerie! (And they’re offering 25% off on lingerie and boxers through Valentine’s Day with the code LOVE25.)

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Anyway, over the years, I’ve dug myself out of my cynicism, written many posts about Valentine’s Day, and learned to appreciate it as a holiday with origins in a lovely tale about a priest who continued to perform wedding ceremonies despite a ban by the king—because he believed in marriage. Here are those (many) past posts:

Here’s some simple advice.

But today, just a few days before Valentine’s Day, I want to offer simple advice about how to treat this holiday. Actually, it’s not even my advice. It’s ancient advice, with great wisdom. Here it is:

Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Romans, chapter 12, verse 10

That’s from the New Living Translation, and here are some other translations of that same verse:

  • Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves” (NIV).
  • Love one another deeply as brothers and sisters. Outdo one another in showing honor” (CSB).
  • Be devoted to each other with mutual affection. Excel at showing respect for each other” (ISV).

What is extravagant love?

People often talk about unconditional love, but I prefer the phrase extravagant love. To me that connotes going above and beyond, the same prescription here translated in words like “take delight” and “outdo” and “above yourselves” and “excel.”

On this holiday that focuses on romantic love, maybe it’s a good time to take stock and ask how we’re doing on this one with our spouse. Are we showing them extravagant love? Love that goes above and beyond what we’ve done before, what we think we’re capable or, what we believe they even deserve.

On this holiday that focuses on romantic love, maybe it's a good time to take stock and ask how we're doing on this one with our spouse. Are we showing them extravagant love? via @hotholyhumorous #Valentines #marriage Click To Tweet

But here’s the real core of the matter: You can’t do extravagant love on your own.

You can do extravagant gestures, extravagant gifts, extravagant romance. But day-in, day-out, through-all-life’s-challenges, trying to show extravagant love to your spouse in your power can wear you out.

If you want a really great Valentine’s Day, and marriage, ask yourself what it means to show genuine affection to your spouse and to take delight in honoring them. What would extravagant love look like? And then ask God to pour His love into you so that you can pour it back out to your beloved.

I don’t think I can give better advice than that. Happy Valentine’s to you all!

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15 thoughts on “This Valentine’s Day, Give Extravagant Love

  1. Matt

    Thanks for the nice collection of past posts – lots of good material! One edit for you:

    “But today, one day before Valentine’s Day, I want to offer simple advice about how to treat this holiday.”

    Oof, made me panic! It’s not until Thursday, right?

    Reply
  2. Mark

    J,

    Your article has caused me to reflect back at my 38 years of marriage with my spouse. The one thing that sticks out during the times when our marriage was navigating through very choppy water is sometimes the storms also occurred during Valentine’s Day week.

    During those difficult times, Valentine’s Day served as a relief for the both of us even if the storms became a distraction or remembering Valentine’s Day until at the very last minute, we didn’t miss the opportunity to actually exchange cards, flowers and a small box of chocolates or she surprised me with something sweet and even sometimes erotic. Somehow the water’s seem to be much calmer when we realize what Valentine’s Day is really about, romancing.

    Now that we are navigating through calmer waters, we celebrate Valentine’s Day somewhat comparable as our Anniversary Date a special time to celebrate being married to each other.

    My wife likes hanging clothes outside. We have between the post, the clothes line sags down low, which works out well as she is 5’0″. After she hangs the clothes on the line, she puts a 6’0″ pole in the very middle of the line, so the clothes won’t touch the ground.

    With our Anniversary date and Valentine’s Day, 6 months apart she compares Valentine’s Day like putting a little extra emotional romantic boost which is half way through the year toward our Anniversary.

    I think there are many that don’t really recognize a lot of days during the year that other’s deem as significant. I’m one of those that recognize Dec 7 as Pearl Harbor day and even realize that February 2 is Ground Hog Day. Though I don’t get why some in society treat it with some significance. Sure I get it, Spring is around the corner either being 6 weeks or 42 days out, when both are the same. Not sure how they calculate it on leap year. haha

    Reply
  3. Dan

    Give the gift of yourself and time spent with them. That will mean more than anything you can purchase…other than a vacation or cruise which will also be time spent with them.

    Reply
    1. Mark

      Dan,

      I couldn’t agree more.

      We don’t have to spend a ton of money going on a cruise or vacation or buying a single rose on a special occasion and then personally giving them to the ones we love. We don’t spend any money at all going through scrap books, cooking dinner and washing dishes together, going on a drive or falling asleep in one another’s arms at night, because ultimately we are spending time with our spouse.

      I like Valentines Day, whereas I’m sure there are ones may not look at it the same way as my wife and I do. Some may go all out while others won’t or can’t, which I think that’s ok.

      Valentine’s Day It doesn’t mean one is any more or any less of a sweetheart to their spouse.

      If my wife didn’t like Valentine’s Day as much as she did,, she wouldn’t be dropping a little hint that she loves the scent of a rose 2 day’s before Valentine’s Day.

      Reply
  4. Natalie

    I’m like you, J. I used to profess to not liking Valentine’s Day due to its commerciality. But now that I’m married, it seems to be the only day my husband can remember to romance me a little (whereas he’s forgotten both my birthday and our anniversary the past several years, despite me suggesting to him to set reminders for himself in his phone since those are far more important dates to me than a date like Valentine’s Day). Now, I’m thankful for Valentine’s Day’s commerciality, since the store flyers and billboards with Valentine’s Day offers or reminders seems to be the only way I ever get bought flowers by my spouse throughout the year. :p

    Reply
  5. Jeff

    I’m still in the camp of not celebrating Valentine’s Day. It’s too forced and not necessary. Kudos to those of you who celebrate it.

    Reply
  6. Katy

    Thank you so much for this post. I’m engaged to my wonderful fiance. We’re in a long-distance relationship and soooooo ready to be married but also committed to waiting until marriage (8 more months!). At this stage in our relationship, it can be tricky navigating fully showing my love on Valentine’s Day while still maintaining the boundaries we’ve set in place. Your reminder about extravagant love reminds me that I can show my love by surrendering myself to God and giving my fiance the daily gift of lifting him up in prayer, showing him how much I respect the man of God he is, and showering him with words of encouragement. Thank you again!

    Reply
  7. Eric Wiggin

    I was the nerd in grade school, so as a child I learned to hate Valentine’s Day. Our teacher always had a box to put our cards in, and I was one of a few who never got one (we had the same teacher for three years). But my Dad, however, always remembered Mother, and one year he got her chocolates in an red enameled heart-shaped steel box, which she used for keepsakes many years after the Lord took him home.

    In mid-February, when we both were in college (not sure it was Valentine’s Day, but close), I was walking my date, Dottie, home in a snowstorm from an evening of playing cards with a married couple of students. I proposed. Her answer was that she needed to pray about it.

    Then in March, during Spring Break, I visited her home in Michigan, and we climbed Mt. Garfield, a huge sand dune on the shore of Lake Michigan. At the top, with the blue of the lake spread to the horizon before us, Dot reminded me of that evening a month earlier. She then said “Yes,” and grabbed me and kissed me. We were married a year later in June 1963, 56 years ago. And we still kiss–a lot. And, oh yeah, I bought her a heart box of chocolates this week. I still haven’t found a metal heart box, though. Eric

    Reply
  8. Eric Wiggin

    I think the bottom line, on Valentine’s Day or the other 364, is found in Jesus’ reference to the Second Greatest Commandment: to love your neighbor as yourself. IOW, treat your spouse the way you would wish to be treated. Once we learn to practice this in a Christian marriage the intimacy increases day-by-day, year-by-year.

    Reply

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