It’s Valentine’s Day, and young lovers are enjoying the freshness of their relationship. I watch them, and I remember how it was with us. I treasure the memories of our beginnings, for there is nothing quite like the fragrance of an opening flower.
Yet the fragrance of our love is deeper and richer than that of a fresh blossom. We’ve weathered storms and seasons because we are committed to each other. I want to weather many more storms and seasons with you.
I want to grow old with you.
I always said I wanted to marry a man who was a leader. Who, by the love and character he possessed, would cause submission and following to come easily and readily. Then I found you. You encourage and challenge me to be my best, yet allow me to be different from you.
I want to experience your leadership, when I grow old with you.
I said I wanted a man who was tough as well as tender. Then I found you. I’ve watched your face soften as you’ve held our babies. I’ve watched you deal out tough discipline when necessary. Then I’ve marveled at the productive results.
I want to experience the tough and the tender of you when I grow old with you.
I said I wanted a man who was made of steel and velvet. Then I found you. I’ve watched your steel endure long hours to provide for us. I’ve watched you stand alone when you’ve been asked to violate your convictions and conscience. You are a man of your word. If fame were integrity, you’d be the star. Our children have a stellar example to follow in you.
I want to know the strength of your steel when I grow old with you.
I’ve felt your velvet as you’ve held me or asked forgiveness. I’ve experienced your velvet as you’ve taken the time to dig a grave for yet another dog and allowed your sons to help shovel in the dirt when you could have done it faster yourself. I’ve seen your velvet with the little girls you call Princess when they come running with excitement because Papa is home.
I want to feel the softness of your velvet, when I grow old with you.
I always said I wanted a man who could make me laugh. Then I found you. You have a way of making me laugh (especially when I’m mad at you!) You’ve helped me laugh when I intended to cry. I’ve watched our children’s faces as they enjoy this rare side of their father, wondering what he’ll do next.
I want to laugh, when I’m old, with you.
I never asked for a perfect husband. I knew I couldn’t be a perfect wife. I wanted someone who didn’t always agree with me. We found imperfection and disagreements when we found each other.
You trim the kid’s nails and leave the clippings wherever you happen to complete the job. You track soot into the house from your shoes and forget, at times, to call me when you’re working late.
I forget to keep a grocery list and we’ve been out of essentials when you could have picked them up if only I had remembered. I’ve thrown away papers that were important to you and eaten your food at McDonald’s when I said I didn’t want any.
You willingly dress the children but leave PJ’s and nightgowns wherever you dropped them. You’ve left medicine within reach of a toddler, an opened shampoo bottle on the side of the tub, and forgotten to close the toilet lid.
I’ve forgotten to give you important messages relating to jobs; forgotten to mail bills due tomorrow; been too tired to tidy up the house, and cooked meals without tasting them.
When the kids are gone, I’ll still be forgetful with you.
You think the day is half over at 10 AM, which is a good time, I think, to be getting out of bed. I like warm beds with the electric blanket on high; you think a crisp, cool bed is invigorating.
I love peanut butter and chocolate. You refuse to eat either. I like coffee in the morning. You dislike coffee kisses.
I’ll still disagree, when I’m old, with you.
I wanted a man who loved me for me, who believed in me. Then I found you.
There have been times you’ve said, “I don’t know what to do with you, but I can’t live without you.”
You continue to love and cherish me, even when I am unlovely.
I want to be cherished, when I’m old, by you.
I wanted a man who believed in commitment and the permanence of marriage. Then I found you. There have been days I have been especially grateful for that commitment. It was the glue that held us together. It was the source for “working it out” no matter how many hours or days it took.
Your assurance, “I don’t know how we’re going to work this out. But I want you to know that I love you and am committed to you and to us,” is the best marriage insurance we could have.
I’ll still have that insurance when I’m old, with you.
I wanted a man who wouldn’t grow tired of me–nor I of him. You are my best friend, my most creative critic, my favorite person. Even when I am angry with you, I want to be with you. I enjoy your company more than anyone else’s. I pick out your voice from a hundred in a room. My eyes find yours across throngs of people. I recognize the feel of your skin, the clasp of your hand in the dark. I am at home with you.
I want to be at home, when I’m old, with you.
Through seasons of uncertainties, your love and commitment are certain and sure. “A good marriage doesn’t just happen; it takes work,” you’ve said.
We’ve worked and cried and prayed together. We’ve laughed and sung and played together. We are committed to each other. That is the essence of our relationship, our marriage.
On this Valentine’s Day, I want you to know that I am deeply in love with you. I admire and respect the man you are. For better, for worse; for richer, for poorer; in sickness or in health, I am committed to you.
And I want to grow old – with you.
This story was written by assignment in 1996 when I was pregnant with our youngest son. Dave and I are growing old together – and enjoying it immensely! It was first published in Christian Living Magazine and later in Discover Southside, an online ezine. You can also read it under My Attic.