The high bar of love

Tim Costello ponders Valentine’s Day, romance, the TV show Married at First Sight, and what love is really all about.

I am not a total non-romantic, but I have to admit, Valentine’s Day doesn’t sit well with me.

Even more so this year as the day dedicated to “love” happens to fall just as Channel 9’s Married at First Sight is ramping up. The show portrays couples who have never met, but have been matched by three “experts”, going through a ceremony in front of friends and family to be “married”.

Ads for the program show lonely, anxious brides-to-be telling their cynical parents, nervous grooms waiting for the moment of their bride’s arrival, and then a few “after” shots of dismay, anger and regret.

It’s a car crash. But somehow the exposure of the spectrum of human emotions—from delight to shame, from honesty to jealousy, from vulnerability to downright arrogance—is compelling. Will this contrived coupling lead to true love? We can’t look away.

And in the midst of all this, Valentine’s Day pops up, prompting all of us to buy flowers, cards, chocolates to display our romantic affections.

But whether you are “married at first sight” or joined together in more conventional fashion, Valentine’s Day passes and there are 364 other days of the year when that expression of love will be tested. Love is about the sharing of day-to-day domestic routines, being there for the moments of loss, pain and failure and the attaining of common goals.

As St Paul so aptly put it: “Love is kind, it does not dishonour others, it always protects, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” A high bar, but one which is worthy of the word love—worthy of what we all yearn for and need wisdom to nourish and cherish in our daily lives.