Valentine's Day has come and gone, but that doesn't mean we stop celebrating Love. Andrew and I often say that "everyday is Valentine's day!" We make it a point to always say "I love you" to each other, to always kiss before leaving, and to talk before falling asleep. It helps keep our marriage strong.
If one of us takes off our wedding ring, the other proposes to put it back on. Every time. If Andrew is at work, I'll wait until he gets back home. It may sound silly, but I get proposed to at least once a week. The fact that he still asks me to marry him after nearly 13 years, 4 kids, and some xx pounds later, tells me he still loves me and wants to spend his life with me. The fact that I still say "yes" tells him the same.
Somewhere, I once read that men and women should always treat each other as if they are still dating. In other words, to always court each other. I think I would find that exhausting. I simply don't want to dress myself up in tight jeans and cleavage-baring tops, and always be on my best flirtatious behavior. I do have children to care for and a house to manage and a homestead to run. But I see the point of courting each other, to let the other know that they are still a "catch" and one still desires the other.
I've also heard, and have been guilty of saying, "I've got him, I can let everything go now." I might have said it, but I didn't really mean it. In letting everything go, one stops taking care of oneself, stops dressing with care, stops caring about anything to do with appearances. I might wear my hole-y and stained clothes around the house, but when I go out, I make sure to dress nicer. If Andrew and I get a moment alone to run out, we usually dress in our better clothes for each other, changing from our 'house clothes' to 'going-out' clothes.
Andrew works a kiosk at the mall and he sees plenty of examples of people who have 'let themselves go'. He comes home telling me about sloppily-clothed people-- plump girls wearing tops that are 3-sizes too small; big men waddling in sweat pants, their bellies bulging over the waistband, exposed by the too-short t-shirt; women who have no business wearing the tightest, smallest, shorts that just about expose everything for the whole world to see. He comes home shaking his head, wondering how people can go out without looking in a mirror first.
I might not be the skinniest girl out there, I might not have the face for the cover of Vogue, but I do have a husband that thinks I am beautiful and sexy and desires me and wants me and genuinely loves me. It makes me feel like I am beautiful and sexy and I want to reciprocate those feelings for him, and I do. I love Andrew with all of my heart and for him, I take care of myself. For me, too. He encourages me and tells me he loves me the way that I am now.
I don't claim to know the secrets of a long-lasting marriage. My own parents divorced when I was a teen, and many of my friends' parents divorced. I have very few examples of long-lasting marriages to learn from. My in-laws just celebrated their 48th wedding anniversary, and when I watch them, I can see they love each other very much. I hope that Andrew and I get to celebrate 48 years together someday and you know what, unless something happens to one of us, I can absolutely see myself growing old with Andrew.
When we first got together, I'd playfully hit Andrew in the arm. He was quick to tell me he didn't like that-- that he would never hit me, even if it was playful. After thinking it over, I realized he was right and I stopped doing that. That's only one example of how we treat each other with respect. We were also quick to point out something we didn't like instead of suffering through it, letting it simmer underneath, infecting the mind before blowing up in anger.
I have always been upfront and open with Andrew, more with him than with any other before him. I don't know why, but I think I always knew he was the one and if he couldn't accept me for the way I was, I didn't want him. Luckily, he liked every single thing about me-- my deafness, my cats, my pierced tongue, my high-pitched laugh, even my singing crazy little songs I've made up on the spot and warbled like an opera singer.
I hope we are good examples for the kids in how a marriage should be. I hope that someday when they have relationships, that they can remember how their mama and daddy were, and find someone who accepts and loves them 100 percent. We tell them to stay away from hitters and name-callers for if they did those things, they don't really love them, no matter what comes out of their mouths.
Even though the day has come and gone, it's still Valentine's day. Happy Valentine's Day to you! :o)