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Just a thought: I love you Valentine, now and forever

I love my wife. And I have never loved her as much as I do today. Tanya is my best friend and I enjoy doing life with her. She completes me. She adds value to my life.

In this roller coaster called life, she is right beside me when our hands are in the air and our hair is being messed up. She is right beside me when we tightly grip the bar in front of us and just hold on for dear life.

Thirty-seven years ago on Valentine’s Day I got down on one knee and I proposed to her. After retrieving the ring I fumbled away, she said “yes” and it changed our lives forever.

We were younger then and less wise. I am not sure we really knew each other when we got engaged. Or even when we walked the aisle and said our vows.

Tanya and I had no idea what twists and turns were ahead for us, but we knew we would experience them together. We knew there would be times we would be on the mountaintop and have our arms in the air dancing and celebrating with joy. We knew we there would be times of tears as we walked the valley together through difficult times just trying to get to the other side. But we knew we would walk every step together hand in hand.

My hope on Valentine’s Day 1984 was to have a companion for the rest of my time here on earth. We have now been married for over 36 years...13,362 sunrises and sunsets together. Two children and 33 years of parenting. We have experienced the death of two parents. We have lived through my near death with a dissected aorta in 2019. We have experienced a job change. And these experiences barely scratch the surface.

I am excited about what experiences we have ahead, however long we will be blessed with the gift of life. We both recognize a single happening could shorten what we hope is many years together ahead. And we live life accordingly, with some degree of urgency.

With marriage comes routines. Routines bring stability and predictability. But routines can also bring taking one another for granted. The challenge in a healthy marriage is to never take your spouse for granted. Try to continue to date them even after the dating feeling is gone.

The stability Tanya brings to us allows me to take actions that adds value to others outside our marriage. From writing this column to working with the Leadership Roswell program to serving clients at work, I can focus on helping others without worrying about returning home to turmoil.

I had a great marriage model to follow. My parents have been married 68 years with number 69 only five months away. My wife’s parents were married for 58 years before her father passed away. I celebrate every long marriage when I encounter one. They seem like they are becoming a thing of the past. Understand here that I am not judging anyone reading this who may not have had a long marriage. I understand that things happen that cause marriages to end. I hurt for those of you who have had a bad experience. I am just celebrating the blessings I receive from my marriage.

As an attorney coming up on four decades of practicing law I have been involved in over a thousand breakups of marriages and relationships. My first goal when someone meets with me professionally about ending a relationship is to save the marriage. Generally by the time they get to me, saving the marriage is not an option. I will tell you from experience that it is easier to end a relationship than to work on getting it healthy.

Nevertheless, there are circumstances that end relationships and they can be very difficult when children are involved. The children are typically the innocent victims of their parents’ issues. The parents’ breakup becomes a significant part of each child’s story that will be carried with them the rest of their years.

I recognize here that I am far from perfect. My wife knows every flaw I have. Although there are many reasons why my wife loves me, I often feel her love of me is “in spite of” the many quirks I have. I fumble regularly, but we pick the ball up and move forward.

There are two keys to our relationship, commitment and communication. Both are necessary for a healthy marriage. The commitment keeps us from running away from one another and the communication allows us to work through the difficult times we regularly experience.

I am old school and don’t apologize for being so. I like couples getting married and I like long marriages. I like organizations like Focus on the Family that use their resources to encourage long and healthy marriages and good parenting. There is an abundance of resources out there for any couple who wants to improve themselves as a spouse or as a parent. 

My challenge to you is to experience a healthy relationship with your Valentine. God made us to live our lives as couples. I hope and pray you have had or will have the experience I am having...two imperfect people working regularly through issues with commitment and communication.

And to my wife and best friend Tanya, Happy Valentine’s Day. I look forward to continuing to do life together with you now and forever...

Rick Kraft is a motivational speaker, a syndicated columnist, a published author, and an attorney. To submit comments, contributions, or ideas, e-mail to rkraft@kraftlawfirm.org or write to P.O. Box 850, Roswell, New Mexico, 88202 - 0850.

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