What does ‘love’ mean in 2019?

Here is Rodin's The Kiss. All very well as long as he doesn't breathe on her. Picture: LJM

Here is Rodin's The Kiss. All very well as long as he doesn't breathe on her. Picture: LJM - Credit: Archant

With Valentine’s Day on the horizon this might be a good time to take a look at love - is it the sweetest thing or does it hurt?

With less than a fortnight to Valentine’s Day, I have been pondering love... that’s love as opposed to “lurrrr-ve”, that’s love with a Barry White soundtrack and a faux fur rug in front of an open fire.

Lurrr-ve is a sugary confection dotted with strawberry slices, while love is a substantial main course. And if you are wondering why I equate love with food, it’s because I love food.

My (fully retired) husband and I have a weekday ritual that takes place just before I head out to work around 8.30 in the morning:

Him: What do you fancy for dinner, tonight?

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Me: I don’t know.

Him: Spag bol? (trans: spaghetti bolognese)

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Me: Nah...

Him: Pie? (trans: chicken pie)

Me: Nah...

Him: Stir fry?

Me: Nah...

You can see what’s needed here ? a blackboard with the day’s specials chalked on it. Food always looks more interesting when it’s on a menu.

But this is not about food, it’s about love, although you might think my husband’s restraint when I fail to like anything he suggests for dinner is a mark of true love.

There used to be a series of “Love is...” cartoons featuring two ink-drawn people with captions, such as “Love is never having to say you’re sorry,” which is utter tosh. My husband says sorry even when (he alleges) he doesn’t know what he’s done wrong. I have had to say sorry at least five times in our 45 years together.

And there’s this one: “Love is... unconditional.” No it isn’t. When we got together I said I wouldn’t do ironing and I don’t , at least, not very often. Is it my fault that men’s shirts need ironing but women’s tops don’t?

“Love is... finding any excuse for a cuddle.” Yes, right. Let’s rephrase that. “Love is being able to not want a cuddle just now, thanks.”

“Love is... falling in love with each other every day.” I’m afraid we tend to take it as read - no more falling.

“Love is... knowing every expression on his face.” We’ve been together for so long that I don’t even have to look at him to know what his expression is.

“Love is... falling asleep in his arms.” I’ll be honest, I cannot get comfortable enough in a close embrace to fall asleep. For a start, I cannot bear being breathed on. It is never quite in sync with my own breathing and so I end up either breathing too quickly and hyperventilating or breathing too slowly and then having to panic-pant. Also collar bones do not make comfortable pillows, although I do like a hairy chest. (That’s enough information, Lynne. ED)

“Love is... holding on to something special.” Let’s not go there.

“Love is... telling her she’s beautiful without her make-up on.” What! This implies that unless someone is passionately in love with us, we look gruesome without make-up.

“Love is... letting his snoring become your lullaby.” Oh, so poking him and saying: “Turn over, you’re snoring,” is not the action of a loving partner? I’m sorry to say that of the two of us, I am the bigger snorer and my husband can’t seem to make it a lullaby either. “Lynne, darling, you’re snoring.” It’s the only time he calls me darling.

This is more like it: “Love is... when two people just seem to click.” We both do that and it’s mainly the knees when we go up or down stairs, although I do have a bit of a clicking issue with my elbows too.

“Love is... having your very own hunk around the house.” Well, it’s an option, I suppose, but I’m not sure my husband would like it.

Was love ever like those pronouncements? For me, this is how love feels.

Love is... waking up to find he’s got all the duvet and trying to claim some back without waking him.

Love is... letting her read the newspaper first.

Love is... bringing her a cup of tea in one of the four mugs she likes rather than just any old mug.

Love is... staying on the other side of the kitchen when preparing a cheese and Branston pickle sandwich because he cannot bear the smell.

Love is... treating one another with respect... even when the other one is definitely wrong.

Love is... when he walks on outside of the pavement (so that he can more easily draw his sword to defend her).

Love is... throwing on some clothes and going outside to scrape the ice off her car before she goes to work. (I really, really love him for that)

Love is... sitting in amiable silence

Love is... holding hands in the street

Love is... always being the one to sleep in the spare room when either of you has a cough

I don’t need a Valentine card, roses or a candlelit dinner, I’ve got my love to keep me warm. As long as he doesn’t breathe on me.

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