LONDON – Adults would rather spend quality time with their loved one than receive an indulgent gift on Valentine's Day, according to a new Church of England survey.
The poll, released Saturday, of 1,000 adults also reveals that it is the men who value quality time more than the women.
Eighty-nine percent of those currently in a relationship said they preferred quality time together. By gender, 91 percent of men and 86 percent of women agreed. Only eight percent said they favor an indulgent gift (six percent of men and 10 percent of women).
In light of the results, the Church of England has issued a new romantic prayer for couples to pray together on Valentine's Day, which is Saturday. It thanks God for quality time together and prays for greater commitment to one another.
"Loving God, on this Valentine's Day, we might give gifts like flowers or cards, or look forward to the romance of a meal out, but the joy of sharing in these things is our time together," the prayer reads.
It continues, "We thank you, Lord, for the time we will spend together today, and every day. And in that precious time, we pray our love will grow stronger and deeper."
The Rev. Jan Harney, co-author of the new prayer and the resident "blogging reverend" of Newlyweds-uk.com, commented, "Anyone can grab a gift to hand to someone – but giving a person your undivided attention is the ultimate compliment. Love is what matters to people, not expensive presents. These results underline that couples can have a special Valentine's Day even if they have less money at the moment. After all, the best things in life are free."
Churches have been celebrating marriage and commitment as part of National Marriage Week, which launched Feb. 7. The theme this year was "Celebrating Commitment," to encourage couples to stay committed to one another and promote marriage as a stabilizing force in society.
It comes as new figures from the National Office of Statistics confirm that marriage rates have fallen to an all time low.
The number of marriages in England and Wales dropped in 2007 by 3.3 percent compared to 2006. The figures are the lowest since 1862 and mark the third consecutive year that the number of marriages in England and Wales has fallen.
Marriage Week is so far active in the Netherlands, Germany, UK, Ireland, Switzerland, Hungary, Czech Republic and Sweden.
"The vision is to forge a pan European network of Christian people who are seeking to act strategically within their nations to build stronger families and marriages," said Richard Kane, who founded Marriage Week.
The Valentine's Day Prayer reads:
Loving God, on this Valentine's Day,
we might give gifts like flowers or cards,
or look forward to the romance of a meal out,
but the joy of sharing in these things is our time together.
We thank you, Lord, for the time we will spend together today, and every day.
And in that precious time, we pray our love will grow stronger and deeper.
Remind us today to cherish each other,
And to value the way our commitment inspires and supports all those around us.
Forgive us, Lord, when we have hurt one another,
Hurt other people,
Help us, Lord, in the ups and downs of life, to be faithful to one another,
and to you.
So with grateful and loving hearts,
we entrust this day
and each other,
into your hands,
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen