My second Valentine’s Day with Andrea was one that set the course for the rest of our relationship. We had recently moved in together and were getting used to that living arrangement. A few weeks earlier we had a conversation that revolved around, “What is important to us in our relationship?” Needless to say, there are numerous things that could go into that talk. We decided that we would each come up with three ways of being that we thought were vital to our relationship being extraordinary.

We both included Communication, so the final list had five items on it. They were:

  • Communication
  • Joy
  • Partnership
  • Excitement
  • Listening for each other’s greatness

These five ways of being have been the cornerstones of our relationship. Without fail, if something hasn’t been working in our relationship it has been because at least one of those five were missing. In the last three years we have used that list to keep our relationship working and on track.

That brings us to Valentine’s Day, three years ago. I remembered how hard it was to remember the names of the seven dwarfs, and I had been working on that for decades. If I was going to remember these five tenants I was going to need a physical reminder. I couldn’t imagine a better way than to print them out colorfully so I could put them in a frame on our wall. The added bonus, of course, was that it would be a great present for Valentine’s Day! I think it came out pretty well:

Imagine my surprise when I opened her gift to me.

Little did I know that Andrea had thought along the same lines, only in a much grander scale. She had talked to an artist and commissioned a painting. Until then, I thought only kings and queens could commission artwork, but clearly I was wrong.

The painting encompasses our commitments, our first date at Romeo’s, my love of cards, and Mexican Martinis. The two people in the painting are not us, but are meant to represent all couples. We have the painting in our living room and the list in the bedroom so that we can always see what matters to us.