He's been my Valentine for over 36 years.
I don't think we've ever spent a Valentine's Day apart, until now.
We're not even on the same continent.
He's in Ghana, West Africa with a team from our church.
They're building a well and irrigation system for a village there.
My husband is also speaking at a church conference while he's there.
The theme of the conference is marriage and sex.
In typical Ghanaian fashion, he knew nothing about the theme in advance.
I could hear him blushing about it over the phone as he told me.
Let's just say, it's a good thing we had three girls and that the majority of the facts of life talk fell to me.
I feel perfectly at ease speaking on the topic privately or publicly.
Him, not so much.
I miss him.
We celebrated Valentine's Day a week early with a lovely overnight stay by the sea.
He reserved us an ocean view room with a hot tub.
Inside. The. Room.
If he was here right now, I'd snuggle right up to his back with my arm wrapped around him,
my favorite way to lay.
control sleep issues.
If he's the one snuggled to my back with his arm wrapped around me,
once he falls asleep and his arm becomes dead weight, I feel trapped.
I have a theory, or it may actually be a law,
Elizabeth's law of the bedroom...
"there's a time for sex and a time for sleeping.
Thou shalt not trap me under the weight of your arms or legs when it's time for sleeping".
But, if he was here right now, I wouldn't even complain about his snoring.
At least not tonight.
Don't let anyone over romanticize what it takes to stay married for 3 plus decades.
It takes more than love.
Sometimes it takes sheer grit.
If you don't have God's grace,
coupled with a fierce determination not to quit,
I don't see how you can make it one decade,
much less 3 or 4 or 5.
Because love just plain runs out eventually.
Human love that is.
One day you wake up and you just don't feel it anymore.
Those warm fuzzy feelings seem long ago and far away and what has replaced them is
a laundry list of annoying and irritating things your spouse does,
or a list of things he should do that he doesn't do, as the case may be.
I think we'd been married about 18 months when this happened to me.
It terrified me.
I had come from a broken home.
If I didn't love him anymore, than wouldn't history repeat itself?
My love had run out, and in my opinion, it was all his fault.
If he was home more,
(he went to college in the mornings and worked swing shift at night),
if he was more romantic,
(we were 19 when we got married,
I now wager to say not many 19 year old boys are pros at romancing a woman),
if he did this,
if he didn't do that,
then my love wouldn't have grown cold.
Two things happened that saved my bacon.
I made my husband go with me to our pastor for counseling.
I was sure our pastor was going to tell him how he needed to change to make me happier and that soon those warm, fuzzy feelings would return.
Instead, our pastor told me that if another person could meet all my needs, fulfill me and make me happy,
then I wouldn't need God.
He suggested that I focus less on changing my husband
and more on cultivating my friendship with God.
Shortly after that wake up call, I heard someone on the radio say that all human love eventually runs out.
He said that we need God's love to flow to us, in us, and through us
to be able to love another person for the long haul.
We've had some really high highs and some really low lows in our 36+ years together,
and decades of wonderfully ordinary days in between.
All glory goes to God,
with a little pat on the back to two very stubborn people,
who don't like to quit.
Happy Valentine's Day, Honey.
I love you forever.