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Friendship – Forgiveness – Forgetfulness - Laughter - Space
Valentine’s Day Thoughts
By Joanne Sales

Did you know that the St. Valentine we honor on February 14 was actually a martyred priest in ancient Rome? That’s interesting, considering half of Canadian marriages now end in divorce. Apparently, falling in love is much easier than staying in love.

My husband and I just celebrated our 40th anniversary. We got married when we were 20. A more unlikely marriage there was not. I was at the top of our high school class of 900; he was at the bottom. Nevertheless, the day after we met, we walked through the halls saying, “We’re going to get married.” Ha ha ha. Everyone laughed out loud! That was good. Laughter is important in relationships. (So is food! After Richard switched from cokes and white bread to real food, he acknowledged his surprise, “I didn’t know I was smart!”)

There are theories that successful marriages depends on similar sized earlobes, middle finger proportion to body size, humor, similar levels of cleanliness, spiritual background, etc. Here are some keys that we found to be important, in the many ups and downs of 40 years: Space. Laughter. Friendship. Forgiveness. Forgetfulness.

Early on we learned to give each other space – literally and figuratively. We each had our own passionate interests. The relationship wasn’t the only thing that mattered. Time alone and space apart are essential for perspective and to keep one’s own life meaningful. In any important relationship, we don’t want to be like the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

“You’re not here? That’s fine. I’ve got plenty to do.”

Forgiveness is a big one. Given enough years, everyone is going to blow it. We’re all slightly crazy, emotionally scarred and limited in wisdom, with a vast cavern of unknown, unacknowledged forces and issues inside us which rise up now and then to inspire ridiculous behavior and harmful actions. So we’ll make mistakes. We need the ability to say, I’m sorry, and mean it - to sincerely ask forgiveness and to forgive and forget.

So we developed a pattern of not sweating the small stuff. You know, the small stuff. Like infidelity, ruining each other’s careers, wasting mutual resources, inequality of work loads, bad habits.... You know - the small stuff. Eventually you learn to say, “Whatever. Let’s move on.” A bad memory is a wonderful blessing.

No one is ever going to be everything we thought they were. Nor can we fulfill other’s lofty expectations. That’s ok. We become friends, and surprise ourselves by being more than we thought we were. We grow to respect the mystery of another human being.

Besides, love grows. At first, you love just each other. Then maybe there are children and you love them. But eventually, you begin to notice that the same story, “our story,” is taking place everywhere. All across the planet.

Once, I had a painting of Mother Mary. Inside her heart, surrounded by Light, she held the whole earth. The whole earth. That’s the kind of diffused, expanded love that makes a relationship last. A little less focus on each other; a lot more love for the human family. And then in the process of the work of one’s life, you turn around in the kitchen and someone is standing there.
“You’re still here? Wow... That is a lot of loyalty. Thank you.”

But you know, when you turn around in the kitchen, you may not see a partner. You may see a sister, a parent, a child, a neighbor, a friend. The same awesome mystery is at work. “You’re still here? Wow… That is a lot of loyalty. Thank you. Thank you!”

That is love.