Most wedded men claim that a happy marriage is a matter of giving and taking; the husband gives and the wife takes. For the last 30 years on this Valentine’s Day I have been a husband and maybe even a giver. I am fulfilled with my marriage. I’ve had a rich life full of friends and an exceptional wife. Marriages are at best affairs of the heart.
They’re tricky, perilous, gratifying, rewarding, and Valentine’s Day has a history that’s as rich and torrid as love itself.
The story dates back to the Roman Empire, when Juno, patroness of marriage and women’s well being, was venerated each Feb. 14. The Feast honoring Lupercus, protector of crops and livestock, began on Feb. 15. On the eve of the feast, young women wrote their names on slips of paper and placed them in urns; young men drew names at random, and the pair would then be coupled during the festival. It has been said that the men pinned the names they drew to their sleeves, which has given us the expression “to wear your heart on your sleeve.” Often, these couples would fall in love and later marry.
During the third century there was considerable strife and political upheaval in the Roman Empire. Claudius the Cruel, was emperor during this time, and he decreed that there would be no engagements and no marriages because he believed a man’s happiness at home had a direct impact on the fierceness of the empire’s army. Without a wife, Claudius reasoned, his men would have no reason to stay home, and thus he could increase the size of his troops and their hunger for the fight. Despite his decree, the Italian Bishop Valentine clandestinely married young lovers. When Claudius discovered Valentine’s secret nuptials, he had him clubbed to death and beheaded on Feb. 14, A.D. 270.
So on this Valentine’s Day as you plan an exceptional day or evening, remember these words of Bishop Valentine. A man falls in love through his eyes, a woman through her ears.