Valentine's Day can be fraught for many, so I wanted to focus on a few real life couples who've made love last – how they've done it, and how they express their style — within the relationship and on Valentine's Day. Who needs celebrities? Seriously.
Love Style: Amy & Jamie
Jamie: For Jamie, 48, friends and family are the priority — everything else is secondary. He would do anything for the people he loves. After traveling the world in the U.S. Army, he worked at the Challenger Center in the Reuben H Fleet Science Center teaching kids about the space program, and built airplanes at General Dynamics. He's worked at Lowe's Home Improvement in the shipping/receiving department for over 11 years. His hobby is attending auto shows and restoring old cars, especially his "baby," his El Camino.
Amy: Amy is 46, an author (Oil and Water), writer, ghostwriter, and editor, for various magazines and blogs and for a variety of genres (such as The Eat From Home Diet: How to Get a Slim Body and Fat Wallet). She is currently at work on a quote book, a self-help book, and a memoir in tandem with a movie based on the memoir. In addition to her Many Shades of Love blog, about the ups and downs of being in an interracial marriage and family, she's a contributing writer for EmbraceUS Multicultural Magazine, TheNextFamily.com, and previously for Adaptu.com, about surviving financial struggles.
Their gorgeous daughter Tatiana is 17.
How they met: It was 1992 and I was driving up the 805 freeway in San Diego with my "Little Sister" from the Big Sis/Little Sis program. Multiple black sports cars were in the lane next to us. My little sis started to wave at them, but I told her to stop because the men were too old for her (she was 15 at the time). She said,"I know one of them, he used to coach my basketball team." That happened to be Jamie!
A few weeks later she was out and about, and ran into Jamie! He asked about me and when she told him I was her big sis, he asked her to give to me his phone number. When she handed it to me, explaining it was from the guy we saw on the freeway, I threw it in the trash, saying:
I don't call people I see on the freeway that are complete strangers!"
Lo and behold, a few months later we were in the car again and there was Jamie standing in a friend's front yard talking. Odds?!? "That's the guy who gave you his phone number," my sis said. "You have got to be kidding me!?" We pulled over. When he asked why I never called him, I said, "Let's do this the right way. You call me...here's my number." But he waited an entire WEEK to call! Our first call was on a Sunday and we talked for 4 hours! We got to know each other over the phone, day after day.
Two months later, we had our first date. You'd think the rest was history, but that would be too easy. I had decided, before we met, to move back to Oregon to be closer to my family. So, we literally fell in love, and it was time for me to leave. I debated about going, but Jamie told me to go because I would regret it if I didn't. He said, "If we are meant to be, it will work out. You want to be with your family, so that is where you need to be." I left. We wrote and called constantly. Distance, not so fun....four months later he moved to Oregon! Three months after that, we moved back to San Diego! Nuts. I am a Cali girl — I couldn't take the weather. Then the rest was history. How did we meet? The short answer is...on the 805 freeway...fate took care of the rest.
How long they've been together: A total of 20 years; we'll be celebrating our 19th wedding anniversary in August.
Are you a Romantic? Romance, to us is so much more than gifts and flowers. It's about being there through thick and thin, every single day. No matter what the situation we know we are always there for each other. If we need to talk about anything, we listen to each other. If we need help with anything, we support each other. If we need down time, we are quiet for each other.
Romance is being excited to see one another after being together for 20 years. Romance is looking over at the one you love and thinking, "Damn, they're sexy!" Romance is holding hands while walking down the street. Romance is smiling when you think of the person you love. Romance to us is knowing the strength of our love."
Do you change anything about your style for each other? One thing important to both of us is continuing to be who we were when we first met…style included. Jamie is all about quirky T-shirts and jeans; I'm all about funky, unique dressing. I'm always dressier than he is, but he knows that's what makes me comfortable. I know being casual makes him comfortable.
It took time to get used to, but now we respect that about each other. If we're going to a wedding or formal event, he will dust off the dressy clothes. Likewise, if we are going to a barbecue or pool party, I will dust off the T-shirts! It's all about give and take, but never about changing who we are."
Do you shop together? Do you shop for each other? We rarely shop together. I'm a BIG, "soak it all in, window shopper." He's a, "I know what I need, get-in-get-out of the store," kind of shopper. Exact opposites! We do shop for each other but he is much better at it than I am. He is very difficult to shop for. Let's just say, thank goodness for gift certificates!
How does what you do impact your relationship? He's the one that originally suggested I write about our relationship. Little did he know...!
Formula for staying together/making it work? Jamie and I have the same challenges that any couple experiences. On top of that, we are an interracial couple so we also have unique challenges that the "normal" couple doesn't always have to deal with. We have had some huge life ups and downs along with the racial issues and because of this we are stronger. We continue to make it through the tough times by always being partners. It's not about me, it's not about him — it's about us. Communication, respect, compromise, kindness, passion, joy and generosity are what hold it all together. We work on making sure that all of those things are always part of our marriage and when they are we continue to grow as a couple year after year.
What do you like to do apart, what do you most like to do together? Marriage and love is all about balance. We are still two separate people that happen to love each other very much. I have my friends, he has his friends, we have friends together. We make sure to have our personal time, our couple time, our together-with-friends time, and time with our own friends. I love to travel, go to coffee, out to lunch, to book events and shopping with the girls. He loves car shows, listening to music and eating out with the guys.
We also attend events for each other even when it might not be the other's cup of tea. I will go to The International Car Show with him and he will go to a book event with me. The funny thing is we each end up having fun because we experienced the event as a couple. Together we enjoy traveling, date nights out and chill time at home just the two of us. Balance."
Do you celebrate Valentine's Day? Neither one of us is about going out on Valentine's night with everyone else. We still celebrate on the actual day, but we will be home making special meals, spending time together, and celebrating with our daughter. To us, it's about loving each other every day, remembering how special we are to each other every day, and appreciating each other every day.
We hold hands more than ever, we hug, we never ever leave without saying good-bye or giving each other a kiss, and if we disagree we come to a compromise and work it out. Valentine's Day can be stressful enough because of the expectations surrounding it, but for us it's a day that just signifies even more how much we were meant to be together. So on this Valentine's Day make it special and then on the 15th make it special again, and then on the 16th make it special again.....you get the idea. Happy Valentine's Day!"
A USA Today story about the couple revealed that this deep level of insight and understanding was hard won — illustrating that life, and relationships, are a journey, but oh the places you can get to if you hang on for the ride!