By Jennifer Richardson
This week my husband and I are sharing our 27th Valentine’s Day as a married couple.
There are a few folks I hope will share my love and happiness.
There were some that crossed our path early who told Robert and I that we were not quite right for each other. He was a farmer and I had never seen a farm animal up close. He spent days at a time on a tractor, and I spent my time in high-heeled shoes.
There were those who worried we were too different from each other to enjoy life together. I wanted to travel and write novels, he wanted to live on a cattle farm and have six children. What would we find to talk about, one asked.
There were many suggestions about the proper length for an engagement, the perfect month for a wedding, the appropriate color for the bridesmaids’ dresses, how much money should be spent on a honeymoon. It seemed no two people we knew agreed on the best plan for the event that would begin our lives together.
There were those who said that we were too young to make a commitment when we were dating (20 and 21), and that we were too young to be engaged (21 and 22) and too young to get married (22 and 23) and we started a family too quickly; we had our first daughter when had been married eleven months.
And some commented that having three children in three and a half years was just a smidge too efficient.
I remember well standing at the altar with my soon-to-be-husband, feeling like my heart would burst from the amount of love in it. I still look back on that day as one of the best in my life, but I smile at how I defined love at the time. It was just a shadow of what was to come.
Almost twenty-seven years later, we love each other with so much more depth and understanding. But the simplicity of the fundamental commitment is the same today as it was the day we started. On the day he proposed we decided that whatever life handed us, we would weather it together, and so we have.
There were also those who said we only felt so strongly for each other because things were new and things would change when real life set in—I am happy to report they were so wonderfully wrong.
As in many moments in life, I have learned that the advice people give is sometimes a window into their own lives, a reflection of the life and choices they have lived rather than pure wisdom to share. I have learned to look into the existence someone has experienced before wrapping my heart around what they say.
Love is grand. And sometimes you know better than anyone just how right it can be.
Through good times and bad, sickness and health, plenty and want, real love can endure and grow stronger if we decide to stand united. Commitment and joy walk hand in hand, by choice. The real secret to lifelong romance: after you choose your love, you spend the rest of your life loving your choice.
As we look toward this Valentine’s Day together, and I am so glad I wasn’t swayed by any of the critics. To all who had suggestions, questions and concerns about life and love, we share this celebration with you. We wish you every happiness we have known.
If we had it to do over, we would do all again, and sooner. A lifetime together simply won’t be long enough.
Happy Valentine’s Day Robert, I am so glad the voices we listened to were in our own hearts.