If I wrote a post for Valentine's Day about what I've learned about marriage, you'd roll your eyes and smirk, thinking to yourself "what does she know about marriage? she's been divorced three times!"
So this is a post about love and forgiveness and marriage because without the first two you probably won't have a marriage that lasts or one that is happy. Everything I know about love came when I was able to forgive. Everything I know about being able to forgive came when I realized I was loved ... and forgiven.
Love is much different as you get older than what you might think it is when you are in your teens and twenties (or thirties, and maybe even in your forties). Love when you are young is easily confused with that tingly sensation you get when your crush is around.
Here is a secret about love ... it won't start physically. Oh, you might get those butterflies in your stomach, and feel your face flush, maybe even get a faster pitter-patter in your heart.
But love, real love, grows over time.
It is a conscious decision to fall in love all over again day-after-day. It is a conscious decision to forgive ... and to be forgiven.
Love means making choices like forgiving someone you love even when you still feel hurt or angry. It can also mean making hard choices sometimes like walking away and not looking back, even if just for a little while. They don't call it tough love because it is easy.
It means standing by those decisions in the face of everything that others might say. It means sometimes getting out of God's way to let Him make the changes that you can't because the only person you will ever be able to change is yourself, and the sooner you realize that, the happier you and your marriage will be.
Here is a truth about marriage ... it isn't between you and "everyone else." It is between you, the one you love, and God. There may be someone else who has been through what you are going through, but there isn't anyone who has been through what you are feeling.
What I have learned about love and forgiveness and marriage, is that there will be mistakes made. Things said that weren't meant the way they were heard. Things that were done that shouldn't have been.
There will be times when you wonder what you are doing here ... or there ... now ... or then. And the truth is that there are no easy answers, no easy love, no easy forgiveness, and no easy marriages.
Marriages take work, commitment, communication, honesty, forgiveness, hugs, tears, dancing in the kitchen, late night hugs, reaching out in the dark and holding a hand.
They take faith, hope, desire, dreams, pain, sacrifice, compromise, road trips, laughter, messy hair, and smelly socks.
Marriages take patience, learning, growing, giving, taking, adventures, flowers, burnt cookies, and cleaning up after sick pets, children, or each other.
They aren't always pretty, they aren't always fun. They aren't the glamor of Hollywood or the ugliness of reality TV.
But when you find love and forgiveness, you figure out how to make it work. Because a marriage built with love and forgiveness ... is a marriage worth fighting for, working for, risking for, and giving it all for.