In Expectation of our 21st Valentine’s Day

It was almost 20 years ago when I walked down the aisle of my childhood church and pledged life and love to a man I had known for only two years.

wedding cake

Two years is plenty of time to get to know someone. Many lasting marriages are formed after a much shorter courtship, but it still baffles me to ponder making a decision as monumental as choosing a life partner after knowing someone for a such a small fraction of a lifetime.

With Valentine’s Day approaching next weekend, love is in the air. My Pinterest feed is monopolized by heart-shaped crafts and Valentine’s themed recipes, jewelry commercials invade our favorite TV shows, and the seasonal aisles at every retail outlet are bathed in red and pink.

I know some people think Valentine’s Day is a cheesy holiday, but I’m all for a reason to celebrate love. Frankly, I don’t think we do that often enough.

Love isn’t some fleeting emotion. Anyone who has been married for any length of time knows this. Love isn’t about romance and mushy feelings and instant attraction, although that can be part of it. Love is hard work. It’s a choice you make every single day, and some days are harder than others. Let’s face it, some seasons of life are downright brutal.

I’ve learned a lot about love from my parents and my husband’s parents. Both have chosen to love each other through thick and thin, and they are my inspiration. We visited my husband’s parents on Sunday, and it’s so inspiring to see two people who have been married for almost 60 years who still enjoy each other’s company.

Nana and Gramps February 2015

When you get married at 23 years old… or even 33 or 43… you don’t know what life has in store. You don’t know what that person will be like in 10, 20 or 50 years. You stand before God and everybody and make a promise to love for better or for worse, and of course you mean it, but you have no idea how that promise will be tested. You just have to trust each other, and no matter what life throws at you, follow Dory’s advice and keep swimming.

It’s not that simple of course, but in some ways, it is. Love at first sight isn’t the fairy tale. It’s when I’m sick or depressed or downright mean, and my husband loves me anyway… THAT is the fairy tale.

Marriage isn’t a sport. You can’t keep score. It’s all or nothing. Go big or go home.

Our relationship hasn’t always been perfect, but one thing has always been a given, and that is that we are in this for the long haul. And any day that celebrates love is a day worth celebrating, if you ask me. So I say, bring on Valentine’s Day!

JL-and-Paul

This post was written in partnership with Hallmark. All opinions and experiences are mine.