Today is Matt and my ninth Valentine’s Day together. Ninth.

I’m really not quite sure how that happened.

Like most couples, I think, we aren’t always on the same page about how to celebrate this one. There have been years when one or both of us has been really excited about the occasion and other years when we’ve agreed to basically skip it. More than other holidays, Valentine’s Day has the potential to breed disappointment (we’ve all been there), and Matt and I have learned the hard way that it’s best to have a casual conversation upfront about how “into it” we want to get from year to year. Most of the time, we don’t do presents, but every once in a while, we’ll forego Christmas gifts and make a bigger deal of Valentine’s Day instead. Most years, we stay in for a casual date night, but last year, Matt took me out for the best dinner of my life at an amazing sushi restaurant (fifteen courses of my favorite food in the world). One thing we always prioritize is cards. February 14 is, of course, a card-giving holiday for most people, but cards are generally a pretty big deal in our house, so regardless of what else we’re doing to celebrate on Valentine’s Day, we commit to thoughtful, handwritten cards. I’m already counting the minutes until the end of the workday so we can do this year’s exchange.

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We’ve had some amazing celebrations over the years, but our first one was actually the best. I was visiting Matt at his college for the weekend, and because we were dating long distance and had only been together for a few months, I didn’t quite know what to expect. At some point in a text or phone conversation, though, Matt must have picked up on me saying that I was craving a brownie sundae… and he delivered on it for Valentine’s Day! I have such a clear memory of watching him unload gallons of ice cream and a box of brownie mix and all of the other necessary sundae fixings (sprinkles, of course!) from the kitchen of his grubby dorm kitchen. He was so shy about the whole thing, and it meant so much to me. Last year, we started a new tradition of eating big sundaes for dinner on Valentine’s Day, and I love that it’s going to help us keep that early memory alive.

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Because I’m already sappy — and because I know for a fact that I don’t always give Matt the credit he deserves for being the best husband I could ask for — I decided to put together a list of nine things I love and appreciate about him, one for each of the years that we’ve celebrated this holiday together.

1. His patience: Patience is definitely not one of my better qualities, which gives me that much more respect for my husband’s ability to take things as they come. He’s patient with me (major blessing!) and with basically everything else that life has to offer, which sets a really healthy tone for our home and relationship.

2. His confidence: There’s something about it that I just can’t put my finger on : )

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3. His easygoing nature: If I could only tell you how much better of a person I’ve become thanks to this. Matt’s inspired me to live my life with less judgment, less drama, and less unnecessary stress. I have endless appreciation for the fact that this comes so naturally to him.

4. His silliness: I’ve especially loved learning about Matt’s goofy side over the years because, for as long as we were students at the same middle and high school, I only ever knew and saw him as a “cool guy.” The moments that we share cracking each other up with hilarious inside jokes or exhaustedly dancing to Fleetwood Mac in our apartment are to this day a reminder that you can never judge a book by its cover.

5. His ambition: In our house, we play hard, relax hard, and work hard. Matt’s laidback temperament definitely doesn’t keep him from dialing up the intensity when the time is right, and I love watching him succeed at the things he’s passionate about.

6. His integrity: Matt’s about as true to his word and to who he is as anyone I’ve ever met. He’s taught me a lot about the value of relying on my own sense of right and wrong instead of worrying about what other people think.

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7. His reliability: When he says he’s going to do something, my husband does it. It’s taken me a long time to realize that he doesn’t always need to do things my way, but coming to that realization has made space for me to really appreciate how much he can be counted on to stay true to his word.

8. His curiosity: Matt is super smart, but what I think separates him most from other smartypants-es out there is his inherent love for learning. I joke about how his obsession for research can slow down our takeout ordering time or make our vacations a little less spontaneous, but it’s really cool to be with someone who enjoys asking questions and is never bored of exploring new things.

9. His kindness: I swear, friends, that there is not a mean or selfish bone in this man’s body. I love him for that.

Now that I’ve sufficiently embarrassed my husband, I guess all that’s left to do is wish you and yours a fantastic Valentine’s Day! Whether you’re single, attached, or somewhere in between, I hope you have plenty of opportunities to celebrate love today.

xoxoxo