RICHARD ORD: Love is...never having to say ‘how much?’

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Love is … a tacit agreement not to ‘waste’ money on Valentine’s Day gifts or cards.

It’s a message you’re unlikely to find on those twee Valentine’s posters, featuring that naked cartoon couple hand in hand, but it’s true in our house.

Who says romance is dead?

I’ll tell you who says romance is dead, the branch manager at Lloyds TSB.

Romance in the Ord household is accepted, as long as it doesn’t impact on the bank balance.

There’s a name for this financial-free romance, it’s called marriage. Marriage is the business end of love.

Romance is the like the artist’s impression, filled with colour, crystal blue skies and pristine architecture sparkling in the sunlight.

Marriage is scrubbing the graffiti off the shop window shutters before opening up.

Romance is the ideas pitch to the Dragon’s Den moneybags, filled to the brim with positive predictions, big promises and high expectations.

Marriage is the daily nuts and bolts graft; the arm wrestle with the bank manager to secure the loan to pay off your business rate debts.

Where romance is opening your wage packet on pay day; marriage is the alarm clock going off before sunrise heralding the Monday morning shift ahead.

With marriage, you don’t say it with flowers, or cards, you say it by putting the bins out, cleaning the toilets and making some vague promise to do something nice together one weekend, if the kids’ football’s cancelled.

Or so that’s how I sell it to our two boys.

I like to scare them into making the most of their freedom.

Romance for our two boys, Isaac, aged 13, and Bradley, aged 16, is not heart-shaped, but, for the most part, football shaped.

Relationships to our Isaac, are a particularly alien concept.

He told me he wasn’t buying a card for Valentine’s Day, and wasn’t expecting one. In fact, he didn’t want one.

He treats girls with the caution normally reserved for chance encounters with silverback gorillas in the jungle.

Show no fear and avoid eye contact.

I asked him if he speaks to the girls at school.

“Of course I do,” he said with great indignation. “If I need a pen.”

I like the cut of his jib.

His girl avoidance is to be admired. He should enjoy it while it lasts.

His brother, however, has been hooked. He has a girlfriend. She’s whisked in and out of the house at great speed. We parents are too much of an embarrassment.

Perhaps I played the marriage warning card too strong. Maybe he didn’t realise I was joking. And I am only joking about marriage being the business end of love.

I wouldn’t swap it for the world. And I’m happy to declare my love for my wife in this column.

She’ll love that … at 70p for her copy of the Echo, it comes in under budget.