Updated: Feb 1
Romantic thoughts abound in February. That’s unsurprising considering it’s Valentine’s Day, but love it or hate it, the holiday always drums up those ‘sweetheart’ feelings of passionate love. Which is probably why I’ve never really been into Valentine’s Day all that much. I’m not saying I don’t like affection or romance. I just dislike the mushy-gushy, ‘Hallmark Channel’ brand of romance. Their supermodel, nit-wit couples are too obsessed with finding that ‘magic spark’ for my tastes. Because actual true love requires commitment - nitty-gritty (sometimes uncomfortable) commitment.
Which is why, when it comes to romance, I like these other fictional couples a lot better. Not only are they affectionate and self-sacrificing but model what godly love looks like to me.
(Featured Artists Include: miacat, raemz-desu, and japicasso)
1. Walle and Eve - Walle, (Pixar)
This was the first romance I remember ever getting into as a kid, and they’re robots . . . who barely speak! Walle is a timid, rusty trash compactor. Eve is a no-nonsense, sleek combat probe, yet this odd pair doesn’t start off squabbling. After centuries of loneliness, little Walle understands the value of relationships. So much so that even after Eve nearly blasts him several times and accidentally wrecks his things, he goes through great pains to please and take care of her. His affections are lost on the duty-bound Eve at first. She’s too driven by her directives to care, but then it’s that inexplicable yet persistent quality of Walle’s love that not only wins her over. It changes her into a droid as caring as him. Your acts of love may go unnoticed or unappreciated, but it’s more important to do such things just for loving’s sake than to be seen or thanked for it. Besides, it’s the unseen acts that says the most about how much you care. They may be robots. They follow programs, but for Walle and Eve, it’s what they do for each other that matters most.
2. Rick and Evelyn - The Mummy Trilogy, (Universal Studios)
You know what annoys me in sequels? When an established couple breaks up for some dumb reason. Not so with Rick and Evie O’Connel. At a glance, our hero and leading lady from the 90’s Mummy movie don’t stand out much from other action couples. Rick is the lovable rogue, packing pistols and tommy-guns. Evie is the brainy yet clumsy damsel in distress. Pretty par for the course, but I think that opinion sells them short. For starters, they aren’t instantly twitter-pated. The practical Rick and adventurous Evie challenge each other’s opinions often and have different interests, but they get along well. It’s only after interacting over time do we see an organic attraction grow between them. Then come the sequels. Evie still convinces her reluctant husband to go on excavations. Rick keeps trying to reign in his wife’s impulses, but they’re still as dedicated to each other as they were in the beginning. Love isn’t just about finding common ground. It’s also about appreciating the differences in your spouse. Mummies, scarabs, monkey-pygmy things; crazy threats are rampant for Rick and Evelyn, but their marriage is the last thing that can be threatened. I just love that so so much.
3. Carl and Ellie - Up, (Pixar)
Carl and Ellie’s story from Pixar’s Up is short. So short, it’s told in about ten minutes. Boy meets girl. Boy marries girl. They experience life together. It’s a simple affair, but it’s that last part in their romance that touched me and a million others most. Majority of romances today fixate on bringing the lovebirds together. Seldom do they explore what comes after the first kiss. Carl and Ellie weren’t immune to the flat tires, home repairs, or heartbreaks. Soon their faces wrinkle. Their hair whitens, but they don’t regret a single moment together. Love is a diamond with many facets. There’s love as that thrilling emotion. There’s love as an active choice, but there’s also another matchless side to love only appreciated by the aged. For there’s an unrivaled intimacy that’s only achieved after growing old with the one you love. Carl and Ellie earned that level of intimacy from their first wedding picture to their last picnic, and like most of you, I cry every time I watch it.
4. Layton and Claire - Professor Layton and the Unwound Future, (Level 5)
Professor Layton is my favorite video game character ever. He’s firm yet forgiving. He’s brilliant yet respectful. Most importantly, he’s a gentleman, but with all the mysteries he’s solved, one puzzle remained unanswered for a while until the series’ third game came around. Why is Layton the person he is? Well, it boils down to one person: Claire. Now, I’m not going to spoil The Unwound Future’s plot. It’s too amazing a DS and iOS game to ruin, but I will say this. Sometimes loving someone isn’t about being with them. Sometimes it means carrying on, upholding the things they valued even after they’re gone. You see, Layton’s origins are fraught with tragedy - his losing Claire being amongst them, but his love for her not only never died. It spurred him on. He had always been a caring young man before they met, but the way she viewed him inspired him to be more. For the greatest encourager is love. Claire loved him and knew all he could be. Layton loved her and became the gentleman she saw. For indeed, love transcends distance and time.
5. Hiccup and Astrid - How to Train Your Dragon Series, (Dreamworks)
Before getting together, dorky Hiccup always liked Astrid, but bullheaded Astrid disdained Hiccup like everyone else did in their viking village. Things change of course. After he befriended a dragon, Hiccup later became a bold chief, and Astrid’s dark demeanor steadily lightened. What happened? Their adult selves altered drastically since their teenage years. A significant cause was their positive influence on each other. Haven’t you noticed that it’s Astrid who usually asks the perfect question to rejuvenate Hiccup’s broken confidence? Or do you not recognize Hiccup’s patient streak rubbing off on Astrid? You see, a healthy relationship is supportive, not domineering. It’d be easy for brash Astrid to henpeck Hiccup to death and for Hiccup to resign himself to her. Yet that’s not what happened. Astrid never undermines Hiccup’s leadership. She helps build it, and Hiccup’s subtler strength doesn’t squelch Astrid’s passions. He turns her fierceness toward finding the peaceful solutions whenever it’s possible. As God intends for every husband and wife, they became stronger as individuals as a pair than as singles. Because love can take what’s already good to something marvelous.
6. Caleb and Cathrine - Fireproof, (Sherwood Productions)
Talk about dysfunctional. In Fireproof, Caleb and Catherine are neck deep in a loveless marriage. Cathrine nags Caleb. Caleb demands Catherine’s respect. It’s a hot mess. So why would these two be among my favorite couples? Well, remember how I dislike pleasure-centered romances? Caleb and Catherine’s story accurately portrays why such relationships fail, yet it also presents the one real remedy. Caleb’s father challenges him to save their marriage through a ‘love dare’, but the problem isn’t solved by him rekindling those ‘butterfly’ feelings with gifts or niceties. It’s that their superficial love needed a significant replacement: unconditional love. Marriage does not live by kisses alone. It lives by an active decision. You must choose to love the other, even when they’re unlovable. For purest love is not letting what someone does or doesn’t do for you stop you from loving them. Such a love is forgiving, patient, and divine. For it’s the same brand of love Jesus had for us. “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us,” (Romans 5:8). Caleb and Catherine’s relationship is horrible at the outset, but once they let God’s love redefine what true love really means, it turned into something lovelier than anything on earth.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
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