Every time I think about my son, I have to remind myself he is a young man. A thought brings him to mind, and I see a little boy crawling into his daddy’s BDUs or a little football player struggling to stand straight in full equipment. I have to quickly brush those images away and replace them with those of the 20-year-old who wears his own Army uniforms and talks about his future in terms of car loans and marriage.
During his most recent visit home, he spent just as much time at his girlfriend’s house as he did at his own. He rang in the New Year with her and just a few short weeks later, they spent a long weekend together celebrating 500th Night on the campus of the US Military Academy–a formal event marking the occasion of the cadets’ last 500 nights at West Point.
My little boy, always too focused on sports and school to give much attention to romance, is getting serious. So on this eve of the chocolate and flower covered celebration of love that is St. Valentine’s Day, I feel the need to help him understand just how serious getting serious can be and how to make it last if she is serious about being serious too.
Sweet Boy, here are the things you need to know about being in love.
- Valentine’s Day will come, and Valentine’s Day will go. But when your true Valentine finally comes to you, it’s your job to never let her go.
- Don’t let a date on the calendar determine when you say, “I love you.” If you’re being honest when you say it, you’ll want to say it all the time, and she’ll want to hear it.
- Be generous with your time. Relationships don’t stop blooming once you say those three little words. Sit with her. Laugh with her. Be with her.
- Talk often. Love’s foundation is built on communication. Without it, you stand on shaky ground.
- Listen. Listen. Listen.
- Learn everything there is to know about this woman who will share your life. (See steps 3 – 5.)
- Master the mundane. Do the dishes. Fold the laundry. Cut the grass. In the long run, those little acts of kindness are the things that make the difference.
- Share a thing. Find something you enjoy doing together, and do it…together. Swimming, hiking, reading, watching paint dry. The thing doesn’t matter, but the sharing of the experience does.
- Be comfortable in the silences.
- Make time for yourself. The best parts of the couple are the individual people who make it. Don’t lose what it is that makes you you.
- Let her have time for herself too. Let her be her.
- Empower her to stand on her own two feet. With your career in the military, you will spend days, week, months apart, and she will need to be Army Strong.
- Be supportive. She has her own dreams. Let her know they are important to you too.
- Don’t let others make decisions for you. This is your relationship. Friends and family mean well, but they don’t have your heart. In some things, only you can decide.
- Never let an opportunity to say “I love you” pass. Don’t ever assume she knows it.
- Tell her you love her without saying a word…a quick smile, a secret glance, a private joke shared between best friends.
- Share your secrets.
- Share your dreams.
- Nurture a dream together.
- Always, always, ALWAYS remember your momma wants only to see you happy. I am the girl who has loved you the longest. From the second I heard your first cry, I have held your heart with gentle hands, please pass it on to someone who will take good care of it and who will make it beat strong and joyously. Love is a precious thing. Mine for you grows stronger every day, and my wish for you is that find your own true love, nurture it and share it. This is serious.
Love you forever,
***This post was inspired by the Weekly Writing Challenge prompt “My Funny Valentine.”