swans scratching each other's backs

4 Things We’ve Learned After 40 Valentine’s Days

by Kassandra Lamb

beating heart

by Nevit Dilmen, CC-BY- SA 3.0 Wikimedia

Hubs realized this past Valentine’s Day that it was our 40th one together. We started dating in the fall of 1975. That got me thinking about when and why I fell in love with him, and some of the more important lessons of the last 40 years.

Here are 4 of those lessons learned…

Cover your mate’s back:
Although I’d been growing fonder and fonder of him since we’d started dating, I actually fell in love with my husband on that first Valentine’s Day. He’d planned a special evening, starting with a reservation for dinner at a fancy downtown restaurant, for 8:00.

The restaurant had seriously over-booked. By 9:15, Tom had approached the check-in station several times, only to be told that it would “just be a few more minutes.”

“Do you want to go somewhere else?” he asked. But where could we go for a nice dinner on Valentine’s Day without reservations? McDonald’s?

My knees wobbled and I clung to Tom’s arm as we were finally shown to our table at quarter to ten! I was literally weak with hunger.

Suddenly my easy-going boyfriend turned into the Incredible Hulk. He had words with first the waiter and then the maitre ’d, demanding that we be served food RIGHT NOW.

A tossed salad appeared in front of me, and I fell in love with this man who would stand up for me when I was too weak to stand up for myself.

(BTW, that restaurant went out of business a few months later.)

We’ve had each other’s backs a few other times through the years… whenever one of us had to be in the hospital, for example. We’ve both slept on those horrible foldout chairs and have been awakened every few hours along with our spouse when the nurses or aides came in to take vital signs or give medication. We were there to be the other’s spokesperson and protector when they were too sick or too doped up to think straight. (And a couple of times the presence of a clear-headed defender turned out to be critical.)

It may not sound all that romantic, but hey, if you can’t count on your mate to have your back, who the heck can you count on?

swans scratching each other's backs

photo by Susanne Nilsson, CC-BY-SA 2.0 Wikimedia Commons

Accept each other as unique human beings:
There’s a myth out there that couples need to share a lot of interests. Not really. A few shared interests are good, so you have something to do together. But it’s okay for each of you to do a bunch of things the other one isn’t into. Tom’s into photography and computers. I’ve got a point-and-shoot camera that no longer focuses properly and a secondhand desktop for which I paid $250.

I love to shop and play cards, and of course, write. He’d rather stick pointed sticks in his eyes than go shopping or play cards. And writing is a necessary chore that is sometimes required in the work that he does.

Instead of resenting the time that the other spends on non-shared interests., honor that those things are important to your mate. I wait patiently when we’re on vacation while he takes a hundred shots of every sight we see (I’m only exaggerating a little). He never says a word about the nights I stay up until 3 a.m. because the muse has struck and I must get those precious words down before they slip away.

And we never try to make the other do what we’re interested in but they’re not. He resists the urge to makes fun of my point-and-shoot camera and I find other people to play cards with.

Time is the most important gift:
Having said all of the above, make sure your interests don’t get in the way of spending time with your spouse. As is so often the case, it’s quality as much as quantity (if not more so) that counts. Dinner is check-in time for us. It may only be twenty minutes to a half hour, but we’re not reading or watching TV or playing with our cell phones. We’re telling each other everything important–and some things that are not all that important but are just interesting–that’s happened to us that day.

bread and wine

Bread, Wine and Thee (photo by Beatrice Murch, CC-BY-SA 2.0, Wikimedia Commons)

And on Fridays, we have date night. We started that when our son was about thirteen. We have a special dinner, just the two of us, share a bottle of wine, and really linger at the table until we’re totally caught up on things. Then we relax and watch videos together for the rest of the evening.

Be proud of each other:
Don’t just say it to each other. Tell others about your spouse’s accomplishments. No, you don’t have to be a bore about it. But let your spouse know you’re proud of them by telling the world.

Tom’s my best salesman. He’s always telling me about some coworker who happened to mention that they like mysteries, or just that they like to read. That’s his opening! He doesn’t have enough coworkers that his efforts will make a major difference in my writing income. But it definitely makes a difference in my confidence level to hear that he’s proud enough to brag about my writing to anyone who will stand still and listen.

How many Valentine’s Days have you had with your honey? And what have the years taught you about living and loving together? And even if you’re not coupled at the moment, what makes you feel especially loved–by friends, lovers and/or family?

Posted by Kassandra Lamb. Kassandra is a retired psychotherapist turned mystery writer. She is the author of the Kate Huntington psychological suspense series, set in her native Maryland, and a new series, the Marcia Banks and Buddy cozy mysteries, set in Central Florida.

We blog here at misterio press once (sometimes twice) a week, usually on Tuesdays. Sometimes we talk about serious topics, and sometimes we just have some fun.

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  • Reply
    K.B. Owen
    February 23, 2016 at 1:12 pm

    What wonderful tips, Kass! I agree with them wholeheartedly. Hubs is always bragging about my books, and I’m always telling peeps about his boardgame designing! (Psst, doing it now).

    Us knowing we have each other as staunch ally and advocate makes us feel like we can take on anything.

    Here’s to many more Valentine’s Days together!

    • Reply
      Kassandra Lamb
      February 23, 2016 at 9:51 pm

      “Staunch allies and advocates” … well put, Kathy!! Hubs designs board games? Sounds fascinating!

  • Reply
    Vinnie Hansen
    February 23, 2016 at 1:23 pm

    Kass, another good post. I was delighted to learn you like to play cards. Me, too. Bring a deck to WPA (although I doubt we’ll have much down time.) Will you visit the blackjack table there? I plan to. What card games do you like? When I was in my twenties, I was good at pinochle and Hearts, but I haven’t played in years.

    • Reply
      Kassandra Lamb
      February 23, 2016 at 9:49 pm

      Glad you liked the post, Vinnie! I’ll try to remember to pack my pinochle cards. That’s one of my favorite games. Also like canasta a lot. But I suspect if we do have any down time during that conference, we’re going to be too brain-dead to play anything more challenging than tiddly-winks. 😉

  • Reply
    Kirsten Weiss
    February 24, 2016 at 5:15 pm

    Great tips! True love is more than romance — it’s being there. (Besides, I think we need to romance ourselves sometimes).

    • Reply
      Kassandra Lamb
      February 26, 2016 at 1:59 pm

      “Romance ourselves sometimes…” I like that!

  • Reply
    Karen McFarland
    February 25, 2016 at 2:59 pm

    I read this last night my friend, but was too tired to comment. lol. Congrats to you and hubby. As you know, I’ve been married 40 years, and it doesn’t just happen. Lots of work goes into a relationship. And one cannot think of only themselves. It’s not always fifty-fifty. Actually, I don’t know why they say that because it’s never near that amount. There’s always someone giving more than their fifty percent to make it work. And that’s okay IF each partner is willing to make sacrifices for the other. But, as with any relationship, someone is giving more than the other. Who’s counting anyway? lol. Enjoy your date night tomorrow. You and hubby are a great example! 🙂

    • Reply
      Kassandra Lamb
      February 26, 2016 at 2:01 pm

      Congrats to you as well, Karen, for making it 40 years!! It is no minor accomplishment, that’s for sure.

      My great grandmother used to say that if both partners gave 100%, then the couple might just meet in the middle. 🙂

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