We may have been babes when we were married- well, there really is no denying that we were– but we were the only ones that didn’t know it. We thought we were old enough and wise enough and life would just be grand. We had known each other for so long already and it came as no surprise to anyone that we would get married. It was “meant to be,” so to speak.

And then came the four funerals in the first year of our marriage and the loss of our first baby at just six weeks old two years after. We were almost evicted from one apartment, worked two jobs each and were always broke, and had many other challenges that tried to rock us.

We were never perfect, never “always” kind, patient, forgiving. We never threw anything at each other or walked out on one another, but words and cold shoulders have been thrown. Yet we also have grown and fought for this love.

So when teenagers come to me and tell me they think they want to spend the rest of their life with another teenager and the parent looks imploringly at me, I just smile sheepishly. Because otherwise, what kind of hypocritical advice would I give? And then the teenager tells me all things that they did for Valentine’s Day, and I smile a knowing smile.

A hopeless romantic at heart, I love Valentine’s Day. So many of my friends and family do not, but I do. And while I am not one of those people that thinks they have to date their spouse, I do think you have to romance them. And Valentine’s Day is an excuse to do just that. It doesn’t have to be all about the superficial things- though I love flowers- but it never hurts to take the time to evaluate where we are. To slow things down over one dinner or late night talk to assess our marriage. We look back on things and laugh at our foolishness and discuss with deep sincerity our future endeavors.

We have come a long way in ten years of marriage, understanding more, now, how little we actually understand.

But I can still laugh when you come back early this morning with flowers and a Hello Kitty gift basket because even though I am almost thirty it is still one of my favorites. And you can laugh at my forgetfulness in asking for your help to unpack groceries and you unpack your chocolates.

And I’ll still decorate the dining room with pink and red hearts and wait like it’s Christmas morning for the kids to come down and get their treats.

We have a lot of growing left to do, a lot of life to live. But I will enjoy these Valentine moments with you, cherishing the traditions and embracing the changes as they come. Because no matter what the date on the calendar, we are in this together, and I could not love you more.