The hearts are everywhere. Little cupids sparkle from store windows. Romance is in the air. It's only a few weeks until February 14th and the American commercial machine is gearing up. Valentine's Day is approaching.

The once-a-year moment to express romantic love is here.

I have nothing against expressing love and affection. In fact, I'm all for it. And the fancier the better. Chocolates before flowers. Diamonds before chocolates.

I'm all for expressing affection, and the fancier the better: chocolates before flowers... diamonds before chocolates...

And I believe it's crucial to verbally express your love as often as possible, and to tangibly demonstrate your caring as often as possible.

But I believe that gifts and extravagant gestures come second to everyday behavior. To me love is truly expressed in daily acts of kindness: In smiling when you feel like grumbling. In listening to her when you feel like talking or like being left alone.In bringing him a cup of tea when you're as tired as he is. That's love.

MY VIEW OF LOVE

My view of love lacks the sensationalism of romance. It's not glorified in movies. But it keeps a relationship alive long after the initial glow of romance has faded.

My husband always quotes me as saying, "Less talk of love and more taking out the garbage!" I don't remember even speaking those words but I agree with the sentiment.

You can't measure love based by boxes of Godiva (which taste great but make you suspect a passive-aggressive act on the part of the giver designed to sabotage your hard-earned weight loss). Like I said, tangible expressions of caring are great. But if you're counting on that once a year moment...

RATIONAL LOVE

Judaism is a religion of the rational.This applies to love and marriage as well.

Not "am I in love with him?" but "does he have good values?" Not "the mood was right" but "is he a mensch?" Not "the music and the stars" but "the caring, the compassion, the loyalty." Not "the sunset and the beach" but "can we build a home and raise a family together?" Not "a dozen red roses and a room at the Ritz," but "do we have the same goals?"

I'd like a room at the Ritz, but we need to separate the icing from the cake.

I'm not against a room at the Ritz. I'd love a room at the Ritz. But we need to separate the icing from the cake. The externals are the icing.We don't want a fancy icing over a cake that spoils too quickly.

And of course, you need chemistry. It's vital to the life of your relationship, but it's neither the first nor the determinative factor.

Life throws us many wrinkles. A marriage based on chemistry and romance won't meet the challenge. But a relationship based on shared goals and values, on good character and deep sincere caring can weather any storm.

So go ahead. Do something for your spouse on February 14th -- give a gift, a card, do a special act of kindness, make breakfast, take out the garbage. But do it also on the 15th, the 16th, the 17th, the 18th, the 19th ... it's the only way to keep real love alive.