I may not know your name yet, or what your face looks like, or what you're passionate about. I don't know how or when or where we'll find each other. But I know you're a real, living breathing human being. I know that one day we're going to choose each other, out of the billions of people in this world, and try to make a beautiful life together in spite of all the difficulties we'll have to face.
I also know that there's a 50 percent divorce rate. I know that girls who think they're signing up for a fairy tale end up getting a load of paperwork and a scar instead. I know that men often think they've found someone who respects them only to realize they're being substituted for an ideal they can never live up to. I know that people are naive, impulsive, selfish, annoying, and sometimes downright heartbreaking and cruel. And yet, I refuse to give up on love. I refuse to believe it's impossible and I refuse to consider myself foolish for this belief. But I'm not going to risk our marriage to blind belief and a 50/50 chance of survival, either. If you're going to love me in spite of my imperfections (believe me, I know I'm messed up) then you and our future family deserve better than that. I promise to do what it takes to give us a real chance at real love. That's why, instead of eating chocolate, watching rom-coms, and worrying about the fact that I'm still single this Valentine's day, I want to take the time to think about how I can someday be the wife you deserve. I want to start setting us up for success now. Here's your Valentine's day present; my 5-point plan for reaching that thing they call true love.
1. First off, I want to trash "the list." You know, that product of daydreaming where I come up with all these "qualifications" you have to meet. I will no longer attempt to pre-determine your required hair and eye and skin color, how often you have to take me on dates and how nice they have to be, what skills you're supposed to have, how much money you have to make. I admit, in my early teens I used to have a list, but it's been gone for a while now because I don't want to be in love with a list. I want to be in love with you. I want to be open to falling for someone better for me than I ever could have imagined. I don't want you to be perfect. I want us to help each other be better people and strive for perfection together. Instead of working on a collection of standards for you to meet to make me happy, I want to work on a collection of standards for myself, so I can make you happy. I want to be as smart, courageous, kind, patient, and beautiful as I can be when we finally do team up. Because...
2. I want to give, not take. I've seen enough of my friends' failed relationships to know that going into "love" with a what-can-I-get-out-of-it attitude doesn't work. I promise not to focus on whether I got flowers for our 2-month anniversary, or whether you texted me back fast enough. Love is not demanding. If I say I love you, it shouldn't really be about me at all. I want what will bring good into your life. I want to be the woman who offers you her hand to hold, her shoulder to cry on, her brain to advise you, her energy to work for your dreams. I want to surprise you with little signs of my affection and appreciation. Maybe I'll even make you a sandwich (; But in all seriousness, I know that if we're going to get to forever, it's going to require that I stop thinking so much about myself. If I choose you, that means I trust you not to take advantage of me, so I'm not afraid to give my all.
3. I want to learn how to sacrifice. Once we're married it's going to be difficult. We'll have to learn how to compromise when we argue, how to care for each other when we're sick, how to pay our bills and split up the housework and take care of the kids. I'll have to give up my pride, my time, my desires. That's the "worse" part of for better or for worse. But it's what makes us better people. It's what divides the pretenders to love from the people who have the real deal going on. Oh, also when I say "I do" to you, I'll be saying "I don't" to every other man on earth. I'm giving up every other possibility for my life because I think a life with you is going to be worth it. I'm already teaching myself how to sacrifice, because honestly I suck at it. I guess it takes a lot of practice. I've decided not to have sex with anyone but you because I want to practice putting my love for you before any other impulse or desire I might have. I need to be able to love you even when I don't feel like it, and I need to remind myself that love is not about feeling good but about choosing to keep your promises every day. From what I hear, that takes more practice than getting good at making love to each other.
4. I want to be brave. I'm not the most outspoken or daring person. I miss a lot of opportunities because of that. But when I meet you, I hope I'll have the courage to come out of my comfort zone, because even though love is scary, it's the best thing there is. Like my favorite C.S. Lewis quote says:
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”
When we say our vows, you get all of me. No holding back. They say perfect love casts out fear, and I think they're right. My new motto is Amor Vincit Omnia: Love Conquers All.
5. I want to pray for you. I may have two essays to write and this letter to finish, but today I will pray for you; not for the first time and certainly not for the last. It's one way I can be part of your life before we ever get to know each other. I can already start my job of loving you, making your life better, helping you become the amazing person you are destined to be. I have full confidence that you're already amazing, and I can't wait to be your Valentine.