Valentine’s Day: A Symbol of Love, or Marriage … or Both?

{3:15 minutes to read} As the romanticized holiday of Valentine’s Day approaches, I took an informal survey amongst my colleagues, comprised mainly of lawyers and other divorce professionals. Are people who get married on Valentine’s Day more likely than the general population to get divorced?

In our unanimous opinion, the answer is yes.

Valentine’s Day represents the over-simplification and romanticization of a long-term relationship and marriage. Disappointment and disillusionment often ensue from this two-dimensional approach. It represents a misunderstanding of what makes marriages work. Many who choose to wed on Valentine’s Day are singularly focused on romance and neglect other critical elements of marriage.

In addition to a romance, marriage is:

  • a business partnership;
  • a friendship;
  • a co-parenting relationship; and
  • an integration of two families.

It is important to value all aspects of marriage without over-emphasizing the allure of “hearts and flowers” in the form of romance, sex appeal and the like.

Let’s think about this concept in the context of a hypothetical business partnership. As you prepare to enter the partnership, you may think about whether you and your potential partner are complementary and/or competitive, and what this will mean for your relationship. You may also wonder how this individual:

  • spends money;
  • spends his/her time;
  • works with you;
  • works with other people; and
  • communicates expectations.

Entering a business relationship requires a pragmatic analysis. The same is true for marriage.

We fall in love, and sometimes the less glamorous aspects of marriage are eclipsed by love’s lure. Under the influence of this very strong drug, people may demonstrate a lack of good judgment and make regrettable decisions. If the romance of Valentine’s Day is the symbol of the relationship, according to my survey, it is more likely to have problems.

I have been thinking about Valentine’s Day and the potential for challenged relationships juxtaposed with my parents’ upcoming 60th wedding anniversary this June. Yes, you read that right, 60th!

As a child, I remember thinking marriage was easy because I did not see my parents “working” at it, and I wasn’t privy to any stress within the marriage. Even as I got older, I still thought that marriage was simply living together. I realize now that choosing a mate requires great care and marriage requires a lot of work.

My parents were not white-knuckling it; they didn’t stay together out of fear or duty. Quite the contrary. My parents stayed together because they wanted to and because of the lifelong friendship and partnership that they crafted together.

It’s important to remember that both romance and practicality are critical components of marriage. If Valentine’s Day represents that for you, then by all means, book the day!