A column by Bles Carmona
For the week of Feb. 11-17, 2015
CELEBRATING THE MANY FACES OF LOVE
Valentine’s Day is coming up this week. Years ago, when I was still a college student in the Philippines, a classmate told me that his high school friend, whose father is in the motel business, revealed that motel business is slowest on Holy Week and at its peak on Valentine’s Day. I hope that you will not be swept up by the fake sentimentality in advertisements by companies that just want you to part with your money. Their message is that without their product, your Valentine’s Day celebration will not be complete.
We know better. We know that love is celebrated every day – not just once a year – in considerate words and thoughtful gestures that mean a lot to our loved ones. This column discussed the 5 love languages: words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service, and physical touch, developed by Dr. Gary Chapman originally for couples. He has since expanded the applicability of this system to singles, children, teenagers, and co-workers, among others. The key, as we know, is to determine which language your partner speaks and which language yours is – there could be a primary and a secondary language. When I took the test at the back of the book, “The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts,” I learned that my primary love language is “quality time” and my secondary one is “physical touch.”
However, we know that the initial spark of passion, no matter how intense or all-consuming, gradually eventually turns cool. There must be a hardier basis for the relationship for it to last. I’ve heard it said before that love is not a feeling but rather a commitment. Especially for those of you who are in binding unions like marriage, you know that there are days of blah and days of hurrah. But what keeps you together through the years?
So I ask my first role models of a lasting marriage: my own parents, together for almost 46 years now. What’s their secret? Hearing them say it, it’s a matter of contributing one’s strengths into the relationship: affection, laughter, music, cooking, conversation, and the simple enjoyment of companionable silence during their road trips to nature spots. I could point out further that, since my Mom is a Pisces and my Dad is a Virgo, they are actually astrological opposites, and you know what they say about opposites, right? Sometimes it just boils down to basic chemistry. You either have it with this person or you don’t.
That’s one of the things that my good friend, Dr. JR Gatpolintan, would say. Just this January, he was named by his peers as one of the best Infectious Diseases specialists in the San Francisco East Bay area. (Check out the January 2015 issue of the San Francisco Magazine.) He was my batch mate and seatmate during the first two years of Medicine proper at the UP College of Medicine. He was and continues to be my good friend. He is now happily married to his husband, Rich Forhez, who is a Czech-American businessman. According to Doc JR, what they have in common are their sensitivity/empathy, their love languages, and their lust for life. Multiply these into maybe half a million households of either married or unmarried same-sex couples (www.census.gov). Sure, they’re in the minority in the big picture – but can we really legislate who gets to love and be loved? Are we here to judge each other? Come on. As humans, regardless of gender, don’t we have a basic right to love, understanding that it also comes with responsibilities?
There are many faces of love indeed. I know a heterosexual couple who have been together for more than 15 years, but they have not considered getting married or having children. What’s notable, of course, is the fact that their “live-in” arrangement has lasted more than the average USA marriage that according to statistics lasts about eight years before divorce occurs. They have met in high school, grew graciously together through the years, and now in their mid-30s remain loving, supportive, and appreciative of each other.
I know of three women, all married to their respective husbands, whose married lives undergo the usual ups and downs, but who long to give a different kind of love: the love of a mother for a child. Please forgive me for mentioning them again here in my column in this way. I will continue praying for these friends of mine because I know that they will make excellent mothers and because children who are wanted are gifts from God. To be fair, I think that their respective husbands would make good fathers, too. I just wonder why it’s easier for some women to conceive, i.e., “nahakbangan lang, buntis na,” when some of them don’t even want to keep their unborn child. Now take my friends who are still childless after so many years together. There’s a cosmic injustice there somewhere, but again, who am I to judge? I will just continue to pray for them and support what’s best for them. When the Divine Wow grants my prayers – for them, for you, for myself, for all of us – that would make me a very happy camper indeed!
I’m old-fashioned when it comes to love. If I were the President of the Universe, I’d distribute LOVE across the Earth and the stars and lots of it, with joyous abandon, not caring who or what is touched by love’s magic. Let us not limit the celebration of love to just one day. Let us instead do little acts of love and kindness for each other every day – because love is not just a feeling but a commitment. Now here’s a little plug from my Mother, who is a Master Gardener: instead of giving someone cut flowers, buy them a potted plant that can flourish in the soil long after the occasion has passed. This would count toward your love-and-kindness points for your loved one, and your sphere of influence, great or small, would become all the better for it.
Photo by Mary Gow-2015. Find advisor Blesilda44 at KEEN.com, 1-800-ASK-KEEN (1-800-275-5336), extension 05226567 either by phone or chat: Mon-Fri 7-10 pm, Sat-Sun 7-11 pm Pacific. I speak English, Tagalog, and some Spanish. For personal readings (fee required), email me here: firstname.lastname@example.org