Do you think of love in terms of passion and hearts and romance? Or do you see love as a test of endurance?

Does your love still sparkle, or have the lights gone out?
When Saul and I started dating, every moment was magical. He would look into my eyes and my stomach would flip. We thought nothing of driving seven hours every weekend to see each other. We got married because we knew, just knew, that nothing could ever come between us.

Shortly after we said “I do,” our “Affair to Remember” became just “The Way We Were.” Instead of surprising Saul with love notes, I started surprising him with new ice cube trays and the occasional package of socks.

What happened to us? Kids happened. Expenses happened. Jobs happened. In short, life happened.

I grew up thinking love meant passion and hearts and romance but somewhere along the way, it felt more like endurance.

Now, before you think I’m taking all the joy out of Valentine’s Day, let me go on.

Endurance is not an option in my marriage. While the word has great merit, to me, it is also a bit depressing. So every time I feel like we are backsliding or settling in or just enduring, I fight.

This year has been particularly hard. Being a basketball coach can be all-consuming. Being a basketball coach at a new school in a new town can feel like a whole new ball game. While I would say that our marriage is rock solid, there have been times this year when I’ve felt invisible. My husband is so focused on his job that it is occasionally the only thing he can see. I’m certain I cannot be the only wife out there who has ever felt this way.

Instead of further burdening him by complaining, I decided to spend my free time reading.

I chose the all-time fall back in love with your spouse book, “The Five Love Languages” by Dr. Gary Chapman. I was hoping to discover my love language so I could tell my husband, and therefore make his job of catering to my every need that much easier, since he’s so busy. I’m a very good wife like that.

While I did learn that I especially appreciate acts of service and words of affirmation, I also learned that it’s not about me.

I learned that truly loving someone is about putting that person first. It’s about showing them you love them in a way they understand. It’s about supporting them when they are preoccupied, holding your tongue occasionally, and doing things that you don’t feel like doing just because you want to make their life better. It’s about kindness.

The funny thing is, when I began focusing on my husband and what I could do to ease his burden, he began trying to ease mine. He started seeing me again. His job commitments didn’t change. His stress level didn’t change. But we were somehow closer. All of a sudden, we were in it together. And that subtle distinction made all the difference.

I think it’s probably normal for the euphoria of love to ebb and flow during a relationship. Some days you may feel it and some days you may not. But if you’ve chosen to walk out this life with someone special, why settle for endurance when you can bring back the sparkle with kindness?

Please continue to share your stories of kindness with me at Or send a letter to Kindness is Contagious c/o Nicole J. Phillips, The Forum, 101 5th St. N., Box 2020, Fargo, ND, 58107.