steffanie rivers

Steffanie Rivers

*After one marriage, one divorce and a failed union I thought was the sure thing I’ve been asking myself what it takes to sustain a loving relationship.

Like most people I’m good at starting them. I’m a good conversationalist, I’m smart, funny and a great cook (if I say so myself – and I do).

I’m educated, employed and easy on the eyes. In the beginning of a relationship these qualities are enough for myself and my intended as we seem to be evenly yoked. And all goes well for the first six months or so. But what starts out full of promise ends up full of questions.

Why don’t we hold hands in public, tell each other our fears and aspirations anymore, laugh together like we used to? Why does the honeymoon stage have to end? When did we start taking each other for granted? Did I put the cart before the horse, give away too much milk without insisting that he buy the cow? The questions are plenty, but the answers are few.

I don’t have brothers or male cousins who might tell me, from a man’s perspective, what – if anything – I’m doing wrong. So just when I resigned myself to being alone, hopefully not forever but long enough for me to become a better me on the way to whatever and whoever God has in store for me, the man I had dated throughout college and moved with to North Carolina after graduation twenty years ago told me breaking up with me was one of the top five mistakes of his life. And if he got the chance to start over, he said, he would spend it making it up to me.

We reconnected five years ago via Facebook. He admitted our breakup was his fault and I’m not one to hold grudges, at least not for twenty years. Since we reconnected we’ve seen each other a few times and talked on the phone occasionally. He still lives in North Carolina and I live in Dallas. But we had kept it strictly platonic and unromantic. That is until last October when he told me what he told me. Since then we have moved forward avoiding the mistakes that sidetracked our romance before. And since we’re both divorced, smart enough to know we don’t have all the answers but genuinely want to remain happily together forever, the first gift I got for the both of us was the book “The Five Love Languages.”

When I got married and tried to get my now ex-husband to read the book “Men Are From Mars (And Women Are From Venus)” he refused to crack open the book. I’m a reader. A man who refuses to learn something new is hard for me to fathom. So the fact that the man in my life now gave me his copy of “Fifty Shades of Grey” and read the “Five Love Languages” with me was a step in the right direction for me.

The Love Languages book picked up where the Men Are From Mars book left off. Sure men and women express love differently. His paying the mortgage on time every month doesn’t make her feel loved. And her keeping the house clean doesn’t make him feel loved. But if each takes the time to learn what makes the other feel loved, then do it, couples have a better chance of feeling as if they’re still in the honeymoon stage of relationships. Sure, there are many couples who stay married for decades, but longevity without happiness is not an option for us.

Most couples go all out for Valentine’s Day to make their loved one feel special, but I’d prefer to get love and give love all year long. I intend for him to be my forever Valentine.

Steffanie is a freelance journalist living in the Dallas, Texas metroplex. For questions, comments or speaking inquiries email her at [email protected]