Christmas is behind us. A new year has begun and Valentine’s Day is fast approaching. A day to celebrate hearts a flutter, reward our love with candy, flowers and maybe even jewelry. No gifts of socks or underwear on this day!

Valentine’s Day is a celebration of love. But, what is love?

The English dictionary defines love as a feeling of strong or constant affection for a person, attraction that includes sexual desire (the strong affection felt by people who have a romantic relationship), and finally a person you love in a romantic way.

Charlie and Kathi Holmes have been married for 28 years. Contributed photo

Young love. Isn’t that sweet? We love the excitement, energy and euphoria of high levels of dopamine triggering the release of oxytocin or the “cuddle hormone” through our veins.

The Bible describes the main four types of love.

Storge, or empathy bond (what you feel for your daughter, brother or grandparent); Philia, a friendship or brotherly love bond; Eros, or what we know as romantic love; and Agape, which is unconditional “God” love.

Having recently entered our 28th year of marriage, I find that the love I have for my husband does not seem to fit clearly into any one of these categories. We have more of an everyday love. Now that doesn’t sound very exciting, but it’s a reality. I believe it’s the strongest kind of love.

When you are caught in a riptide of life you don’t need a partner that lights your sexual desire or showers you with gifts. You need a partner you can trust. One you want to survive the experience with and come out loving each other more than ever.

Being there for each other says unconditional love.

A husband develops MS and is confined to a wheelchair. Without hesitation his wife assumes much of the financial and household responsibilities while being primary caregiver of the children. It’s a burden, but she loves her husband. She does it without hesitation.

The flu has struck the household. The mother and daughter can barely walk to the toilet. The husband has escaped the dreaded malady. He takes off work to gently place cold towels on their forehead to lessen the fever, cleans up the vomit that missed the bowl, heats up chicken soup and finishes the household chores. But, best of all, when they are well again he can look at his wife with the healthy complexion and the tender smile on her lips, having forgotten the sickness, he sees only the woman he has always loved.

Chipping in when the other partner needs consoling. The husband grew up an only child and his mother has passed away. His father died when he was young and so he was very close to his mother. Arrangements? He is too distraught to think of that. Without hesitation his wife steps in and works with him to make sure his mother has a loving sendoff. It’s not like she has time for this in her busy schedule, but she loves her husband and she is there to support him.

The wife who daily visits her husband in a memory care unit. Some days he recognizes her. Some days he does not. Today he tells her “I know I want to kiss you, but I can’t remember your name”.

There are boundless stories of love that exist in everyday life. It is tackling these challenges together that binds a healthy relationship together.

The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 13:4 & 5

“Love is patient…” but, oh how sometimes his absurd jokes are more than you think you can stand.

“Love is kind…” In a heated debate we do not always say kind things to each other.

“It does not boast; it is not proud.” It is a balancing act to keep the teeter totter of power even in a marriage.

This is “true love”. True love is the state where you feel connected, attached, and happy with someone. No matter what the circumstance. True love is about treating someone with the kind of respect that they deserve because you view them in a loving manner. It’s beyond a simple physical attraction. It’s desiring the happiness of your partner and admiring them for the individual they are and how because of them you are motivated to be a better person.

Some think that a very quiet, very still love is boring – it lacks high drama. But true love is deep and calm – constant.

The greatest gift you can give each other is the ability to forget the bad days and focus on the good.

“No human relation gives one possession in another—every two souls are absolutely different. In friendship or in love, the two side by side raise hands together to find what one cannot reach alone.” – Khalil Gibran