My Kind Valentine
I will be married 18 years this September. Loke and I have been together for 21 years.
It’s a cliche but it’s a cliche because it’s true: Marriage takes work. It’s a thing, this learning to live with someone else constantly in your life. It’s neither romantic or sexy. Most of the time, it’s calendaring and teamwork, sacrifice and compromise, learning to say you’re sorry without blowing your top (all the time). Learning to do better because you know you’ve got it better than most. Learning not to lose yourself, and to be thankful.
Not everyone is lucky to find that special someone, which is why I love the business I’m in. You’ve found that person. Let’s celebrate!
Now, the work begins.
Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, the international day of love. Loke, my husband, and I don’t really celebrate it much anymore. There were flowers when we were dating but he soon found out that I wasn’t really a plant person so that stopped. Through the years, there have been dinners and still more flowers but then it became more about our kids, him showing the girls how a gentleman treats a lady, that sort of thing.
See, Loke is a gift perso. I am not. My love language is affection (physical touch) and deeds of service. I feel the most loved with the hugs he gives me before he goes to work and when he comes home. When he looks over and squeezes my hand briefly when we drive anywhere. The kisses goodnight and the kisses good morning.
I am also a deeds person. When he makes the coffee every night so I have a fresh cup first thing each morning. When he helps me with the laundry or the cooking without asking. When he fills up the tank for me or charges my phone for me when I fall asleep at night. And especially when in our old age, I forget my car keys or wallet, he will fetch them for me with only the slightest exasperation and miraculously sometimes, even a smile.
21 years, and he’s still the kindest man I’ve ever met, and I feel very lucky that he’s the father to our daughters. He’s led by example what a good man – not perfect, but good – looks like. What a kind man looks like.
This Valentine’s Day, I embarked on a little photo project. Unfortunately, due to our heavy snow days, my project was cut short but I am still going to share with you the stories my friends have shared with me – my friends who have been together with their partners for over 30 years.
What acts of kindness keep your marriage going?
Here are four stories from four couples, all of whom have been together over 30 years, of love and marriage. They may seem obvious but in application? Not as easy.
Learn to Laugh
Michelle and Walter, together for 30 years, agree that a sense of humor is key. Michelle recalls the elaborate pranks they used to pull on their kids over the holidays, creating Santa’s visits down the chimney complete with reindeer poop and a video.
“You have to have a sense of humor,” says Walter. “Without it, you’re doomed.”
Care for the family
Judi and Ted have been together for 40 years. For them, there’s the unspoken level of care throughout the years not just for each other but for the family.
For Judi, it’s Ted’s support of her during the birth of her floral business.
“He stayed home with the kids while I did my thing. This was unheard of for a Japanese man.”
For Ted, Judi helped care for his father who’s in hospice, which isn’t easy.
“She took care of him like he was her own dad.”
Indira and Kevin met when they were teenagers on the East Coast, before Kevin was deployed to Vietnam in the Navy. Indira worked at Kevin’s family diner.
During our conversation, there was an emotional moment when Indira talked about Kevin’s time away in Vietnam when she was pregnant with their first child. Kevin had to make a difficult decision that could well mean life or death in coming home to see his daughter.
Perhaps this experience is the reason that the two have been inseparable since. Indira and Kevin have shared most of their lives together, including working together in the same company for over 30 years, before moving to the West. They’re both teachers today, and recently celebrated their 50th anniversary.
Taking care of each other
For Marilyn and Andrew, helping take care of each other’s health has been key. It isn’t romantic, but being present during those times when one is in the hospital or laid up in bed, especially when both have had more than their share of health problems, has been the glue.
“And a sense of humor,” adds Marilyn.
Marilyn and Andrew have been together for over 30 years.
There we have it! Kindness in all shapes and sizes, not romantic, not sexy – but the secret to a long and happy partnership. Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!