So today is the big red day. Filled with hearts and hopes and wishes; chocolates, flowers and lots of jewelry. Hallmark will have one of its biggest weeks; the internet will be buzzing with ecards and declarations of love. Couples will get engaged. And more will be said about love than on most any other day.
When I was in my late twenties and freshly divorced (God, I hate admitting that and be clear that my two children are with my current husband) I worked with an older woman named Marilyn who was my parents age. She had been married for over 40 years and lost her husband very suddenly. She said to me one day something that I have never, ever forgotten:
"You young people, you don't have any idea what love is. When you have been with someone for years, raised a family and been through good times and bad, then you'll know what it really is".
Well Marilyn, I think of that all the time as my marriage builds in years and time. On a day like Valentine's Day when everyone carries on about love, I wonder how many people really think about what it is; what it means to really and truly love another person.
Of course I am talking about romantic love although growing up my mother always sent me a valentine. She loved me but that type of love doesn't need any thought. A mother's love (yes, a fathers too) is unconditional and it shouldn't have to ever be questioned. But romantic love, that is something that grows and matures. And that can only happen over time.
There is something to be said about "love at first sight" as I experienced it with my husband. We had a whirlwind romance that led to meeting, moving in together, getting married and having a child within fifteen months. I was in love! So starstruck I didn't know what day it was. That's all I knew. I was in love.
Then life and children and career and differences of opinion and religion and GOLF and finances and in laws and so many other things that are too numerous to name came into play. Joys, tragedies, watching our children grow all have made up for nearly twenty six years of falling in love. A deeper kind of love that only as I said before, can happen with the passing of time.
When you share the birth of your children. When you share the purchase of your first home. When you work and grow in your career. When you watch your children go off to kindergarten, then suddenly college then watching them move out into the real world. When you see them get their first real job. All the joys. All the hundreds of them if you are lucky.
And the tragedies. Spending a year of marriage being treated for breast cancer. Losing both your mothers within a year of each other. Moving from the home you raised your children in. Business challenges. And just the ups and downs of daily life. Where fifteen years ago I might have believed that I could make it on my own if I ever had to, I don't believe that now. Our dependency on each other, our deep friendship, our complete and total understanding of each other. Now I know in my heart of hearts what Marilyn spoke of. And I thank her.
I held on to that belief during our roughest of times. Sure, there were times I would have left in a heartbeat if I weren't committed to making this marriage work. But I wanted to know. I wanted to learn what she spoke of. Maybe if more people approached marriage in that way, there would be less divorce.
I couldn't love my husband any more than I do today. It is a completely different love than I had in the beginning. It is a comforting love that I know only because of our years. And it will continue to grow as we age - and hope to do that for many, many years to come.
So all you young folk out there that are in "love", remember this. It isn't something that is just for now. It's for always. And if you are as lucky as I am, you will someday know what Marilyn meant. And you will understand.
Happy Valentines Day.
PS: You can make me happy and be my valentine by joining my Facebook page! I'm not always so serious.