You cannot plough a field by turning it over in your mind.
Last year my husband, Bob, and I stopped celebrating many special occasions, including Valentine's Day. We were busy and neither of us felt like going out just to buy cards and chocolate. Usually, I decorate the house with special candles and heart-shaped ornaments that I've had for over twenty years. But I didn't bother. So the day came and went with nothing more than a "Happy Valentine's Day" peck on the cheek.
During a plain omelet supper, I looked over at Bob and said, "I feel badly we didn't do anything special." He did too. It seemed like we were two people who'd been married for many years, and these little things just didn't matter anymore.
But they do.
After supper, we snuggled together, recalling wonderful memories of how we met.
Over thirty years ago, I taught a class called "Life After Divorce." Bob, a handsome blond blue-eyed man, who looks no different to me today, was a student.
Back then, I was crazy-in-love with a fellow I'll call Michael. But I was always unlucky in the love department. That was because I picked guys who were commitment-phobic. I believed I could change them. Finally, I realized I was the one who needed to change.
Michael was "perfect" -- funny, handsome, and smart. The problem was that he wasn't in love with me.
The more Michael would get close, then back off, the harder I'd try to win him over. But I failed. With each "failure" I felt more undesirable, which eroded my self-esteem.
While dating Michael, I started hanging out with Bob. But we were just buddies. We had a blast -- biking, swimming, hiking. I never worried about what I said or if my apartment was messy. With Michael, I'd berate myself for everything I thought I'd said wrong. I'd usually run words through my "Is this clever and smart?" filter before saying them.
There was no filter with Bob. I never felt self-conscious. We confided our inner secrets and spent most times in joyous laughter. If I dripped mustard on my chin from my hot dog, I didn't care. Had that happened with Michael, I'd have been mortified.
It was such a shame that I wasn't crazy-in-love with Bob.
I can recall a pivotal moment as vividly as an earthquake. I was home, waiting for Bob. I was wearing my baggy shorts and gray T-shirt. It was the only outfit I had put on, which was such a contrast to trying on outfit after outfit before seeing Michael.
Then it hit me. I had a smack-bang revelation. I said out loud, "What are you doing?" It was at this most crucial instant, like Dorothy with her slippers, that I realized that what I had been looking for had been there all along. Someone who loved me as I was, make-up or not, clever repartee or not. In other words, I had found my best friend.
I can still picture looking up at him and taking the first step. I kissed him… and you can probably take it from there.
It was thrilling to change my never-going-anywhere dating path and wise up to what's really important. To me, true love means being each others' best friends.
And now, after so many years of marriage, we still are.
But last month we learned that relationships can't lie still. They need to be nurtured.
After Valentine's Day, I put out our St. Patrick's Day ornaments and candles. Bob came home with a three-dollar heart-shaped cake from the "day old" bin. As he presented it to me, his eyes were brimming with happy tears. He said, "Every day is Valentine's Day with you." I looked up and kissed him… and you can probably take it from there.
And so we vowed we'll never be too busy to make trips for just a card. Little things do matter.
Cover image via sylv1rob1 I Shutterstock
This story is from Chicken Soup for the Soul: True Love: 101 Heartwarming and Humorous Stories about Dating, Romance, Love, and Marriage © 2011 Chicken Soup for the Soul, LLC. All rights reserved.