By Fidelia Asogwa
Valentine means different things to different people. To some, it is a period set aside to exchange gift items to show love and care. To some, it is a period to catch fun and get involved in all kinds of negative lifestyle. To some other people, it is a time to remember the less privilege, visit the orphanage and motherless babies home. And to some ladies, it is a time to collect things from different people as much as possible.
But personally what does Valentine mean to you? What does it remind you of? Let’s go down a little into the memory lane of the reason for the celebration. Saint Valentine was a Roman Catholic Priest at a time when there was an Emperor called Claudius 11 who according to stories persecuted the church. This Emperor passed an edict that prohibited the marriage of young people. This was based on the hypothesis that unmarried soldiers fought better during wars than married soldiers because married soldiers might be afraid of what might happen to them or their wives if paraventure they die. These young people were not comfortable with such edict but the command took effect as directed by the Emperor.
But based on the importance of marriage in human society and the desire of these young people to be united in holy matrimony according to Christian faith, Saint Valentine started wedding them secretly.
Eventually, he was caught, tortured and imprisoned for performing marriage ceremonies against the command of Emperor Claudius 11. In the year 269 AD, Saint Valentine was sentenced to a three part execution of beating, stoning and finally decapitation (beheading), all because of his stand for marriage. The 14th of February was actually the day this patron saint of marriage was killed. Since then, 14th of February every year has become a day used for his memorial.
I was on the street during the last ‘Valentine’s Day celebration and there was much fun on the air. Every fun spot was filled with people dancing, charting, drinking and so on. In fact, I met a scenario that I would want to share with you. According to an eye witness who told me the cause of the fight in one of the fun spots where I passed, “the girl that they tore her cloth collected money from one of the men the previous day to buy some clothing materials meant to be wore on the valentine’s day outing. She promised the guy that gave her the money that she would follow him to any joint of his choice the next day being Valentine’s Day. Very early in the morning, she called the guy to tell him that her elder brother had a motor accident that left him with broken skull and that she has taken him to University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital (UNTH) Enugu, and so would not be with him as promised. So the guy then decided to go out in company of his male friends only to see the same girl who was supposed to be at UNTH with another guy sipping red wine from the same glass.
“To be sure he was not seeing double, he went over her table and tapped her and that generated argument between him and the guy she came with and then fight ensued,” She stated.
When I saw the guy, his face was covered in blood as the other person broke his head with beer bottle. Everywhere there was turned upside down as he was rushed to the hospital.
But this was actually a day set aside to remember someone who was martyred for a special course, Marriage! Sometimes, it sounds like a contradiction. How do you feel when you remember the day any of your loved ones or any good person you know left this world to great beyond? Sober? Happy?
I am not against the merriment, sharing of cards, gifts and visits to some places and to some people during this period but I’m more particular about the main reason Saint Valentine was killed. He sacrificed his life so that the marriage institution could be given a chance to strive. His death to me calls for special reflection on modern day marriages.
Have you ever taken a chance to go to welfare office or marriage tribunals of recent? You will be surprised at the number of marriages on the rock ready to be dissolved! The couples are just tired staying together and have nothing again to offer for the marriage to survive the storms. But the question I usually ask is, where did the love that started the union go to? Why did the couple allow it to sour totally to the extent that their final desire is separation or divorce? Have you ever asked yourself, what sacrifice have I made for my marriage to survive the storm? Or do you blame your partner for all the troubles in your marriage?
Pause for awhile and check the extent of your contribution towards the happiness or sadness in your marriage. Count back how those problems in your marriage started. What did you do to make sure the problems did not escalate? Or do you just neglect the necessary sacrifice at that moment?
Take for instance, there was this man who works from morning till night. Each time he comes back from work around 7:30pm, his wife will be watching television. With her eyes glued on the television still sitting down, she would just say ‘Honey you are welcome. I have kept your bathing water in the bathroom and the food is on the dinning’. No expression of affection in welcoming back her husband all because she was watching her favourite programme. And most times before this woman could finish watching her programme, the man would have had his bath, taken his food and then retire to the bed. Such attitude continued for awhile and gradually there became a problem. This man needs someone to ask him how his day went, what he encountered in the office; just someone to express himself to but this woman was not playing this role.
He tried letting this woman know what he wanted but she never took it serious. He confided in someone to tell her that he needed her attention especially whenever he comes back from work but she would just say, Is he a baby?
At a time, the affection and friendship between them started reducing to the extent that the man after close of work instead of coming home would branch over and chart with some friends and then come back around 10pm. Later the wife started complaining that her husband keeps late night. How did it start? This might sound somehow negligible but it is serious. When a man needs attention and friendship from his wife and he is not getting it, he might resort to getting such attention outside. Nothing stops this woman from sacrificing that her favourite programme for her husband’s attention at that moment.
To have peace in your marriage requires a lot of sacrifice, time, care, prayer, attention, dedication, fasting, etc. Those little details and things you neglect thinking they do not matter may actually be the root cause of the problems in your marriage. You mustn’t die for love of marriage like Saint Valentine but you must pay the price by sacrificing and standing for your marital vows; for better and for worse. It shouldn’t be for better to stay and for worse to divorce. Learn from the sacrifice of this Saint and endure whatever challenges that may arise in your marriage. Separation or divorce can never be a solution to marital disharmony. Use the whole of this month to bring back spark into your marriage. Ask for the grace of God to sustain you and he will sure grant you.