Love is a verb

This house is the third of our marriage, and it’s hands down my favorite.

Having washed a decade’s worth of laundry in the impossibly narrow, very Brady wallpapered “garage” of our first, and made too many waterlogged sloshes from driveway to back door in the house that followed, I’m plenty grateful for features as standard as a laundry room and ample covered parking.

I love it, too, for the spaces we’ve created, adding the details that make it welcoming in our own little Walden way.

Topping the list is the spot above our fireplace mantel. At move in, it was an uninspired expanse of gray, complete with a hook so huge that to remove it left both a gaping hole and a botched paint job.

Browsing the web for creative inspo, I stumbled upon a good many screenshot-worthy ideas, simultaneously realizing I had aged into the demographic for whom I once babysat.

Remembering three particularly rambunctious kids I kept regularly was to recall the “bless this mess” vibe of their home, complete with thumbed through copies of Good Housekeeping, Better Homes & Gardens, and other titles that left me thinking the Mrs. must have led a very dull life indeed. On the flip side, I’m not sure I could even make it through a modern day issue of Teen or Big Bopper.

Armed with clever online examples from the once dull, now enjoyable ladies’ mags, I set about creating my vision. A lime green, antique waxed pair of louvered shutters. And despite much skepticism from the mister, that’s just what I did.

It’s most splendid this time of year, with just enough Valentine ephemera to be this side of cheesy.

This year, I added a simple statement in card stock across the top. Love is a verb.

Not a new turn of phrase, but one that bears special meaning given a conversation I had with my parents over Christmas break. This July they celebrate 35 years, and given that track record, I meet their insights about marriage with maximum respect.

More practical than poignant, what my dad said resonated with me for its simplicity.

“If you think you’re putting your spouse’s needs before yours 50 percent the time, you’re not doing enough.”

To ponder what percentage is enough is to ask the wrong question.

His point is as true in my relatively young marriage of near 15 years as it is for those together five times that.

And it’s best expressed above and beyond the perfunctory verbal utterance.

I glance at these words above the mantel often, and it’s given me the nudge to be more demonstrative in how I live out this particular verb. So what if the day was long and it’s technically not “my turn” to do the dishes? Petty much?

I have the privilege of loving someone who leaves an umbrella propped by the door for me on rainy days.

A fellow that makes my coffee on Saturday mornings (one could argue that this is more for his own well being than mine).

A guy who checks the mailbox in the heat of summer when the creepy lizard in residence WON’T GO AWAY.

That, and the zillion other things he does without agenda, are deserving of way more than “I love you” on autopilot.

You know who your people are. Love them well.

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