This is our 37th Valentine's Day together! After 25 1/2 years of marriage and 11 years as sweethearts before that, I still feel that girlish shyness when you show your affection for me. Thankfully you are not dependent on a national holiday to "make" you proclaim your love. Thank you for the daily texts and conversations that show you care about me. I'm glad I was able to convince you that I really do like multiple grocery store bouquets randomly throughout the year rather than fewer expensive arrangements delivered from the florist. I will never get over the fact that you love me and I like to have that reconfirmed often. And remember, you get docked a few points if you were really going into the store for coffee and saw the flowers near the check-out. It's just a small deduction though.
We each have plenty of passion for one another but we have proven that love is not passion. It is a commitment. Passion comes and goes but we made vows to stay together no matter what. No doubt the example our parents set cemented that idea in our minds. I am so thankful that we have not tested our commitment with unfaithfulness to one another or with involvement in gross sin, but we have still had to take some deep breaths and depend on the Lord for mercy and grace when we have hit our low points. Opposites attract but then they (figuratively) attack. We have always come together to reconcile after we have cooled off and collected ourselves. I think that willingness to try again and do better has served us well. We have stayed at the same church 25 1/2 years using the same process. I'm glad I stuck around to receive the payoff from the trials.
It is sweet to think of our young, exciting love when we were dating and first married, but I love our current love so much more. I've watched you grow from boy to man and it has been neat to see the glimpses I had of your character back then become full blown in your manhood. I have been in good hands. Your wit, intelligence, and looks (especially in a blue shirt) definitely get my attention. However, you are even more attractive to me as you get up every morning and go to work, attend nearly every ballgame and performance for the kids, stand up for the truth, and teach and lead our family spiritually. I cannot resist that sort of charm.
Watching you with other people shows me what kind of person you are. I love the confidence you have built in our daughter. She is comfortable with and accustomed to your hugs and compliments. Our boys love to be with you too and I see so much of you in them. Your friendliness, kindness and gentleness with everyone you meet show that you have a respect for all people. It is not because of who they are but because you are a true gentleman.
Before we got married, people would warn us that marriage took work and we believed them. It did take work those first months and years--work to adjust to being grown-ups, being married, having a new financial situation, and living with each other's habits. What we did not realize is that marriage takes work EVERY DAY. It takes work to support and care for each other when we are tired, sick, or busy and to control our tongues when we are tempted to zing each other. It takes work to encourage each other and to talk through differences determined to find a compromise. It takes work to be patient when we do not meet each other's expectations.
We haven't reached the finish line yet so I'm sure there are more "discussions" in our future, but what we have now has been worth fighting for. God has matured us through our relationship to each other which has prepared us for challenges in other areas of our lives. I'm glad that we did not completely shield our children from our disagreements. It would be wrong to send them into their marriages with the idea that marriage is easy. I hope they see the permanence of marriage and how to work through inevitable conflicts. I hope they see that the reward is worth the struggle.
But we have had far more good times than bad. Catching up on each other's day, victories, serving together, laughing together, and these children of ours...oh, my. It's good that God spread that joy over many years or our hearts would have burst! I love when we smile at each other over the kids' wit or accomplishments or enthusiasm. We really need to video some of our Sunday nights after church when they release all the pent up energy from the day. I hope our walls are soundproof. The children have been a ton of work and even more delight. There is more fun to come as they begin careers and families and we adjust to an empty nest. Having your full attention is my favorite. Call me selfish.
I have this as the only photo in our bedroom on purpose. It brings me back to us. It says "This is how it is going to be." This romance started with us and it will end with us. I have entitled the picture "Cleave" and I'm tempted to paint that on the wall. Thank God we chose to do right at those brief times that we "didn't love each other any more." Because we kept cleaving when the trials of life tried to pry us apart and tempt us to stiff-arm each other, we still have the opportunity to cleave now that we want to.
It has been my joy, honor, and privilege to be your choice of a bride. As I said inside your new wedding band, you are indeed "the love of my life".