When I was a teenager and had my first boyfriend I was convinced we were the cutest sight since puppies and kittens. There does seem to be a cultural bias regarding the cuteness factor of young infatuation. I hesitate to even call it young love, only because as I traverse my fourth decade of life I realize how shallow young love seems compared to its more mature adult counterpart. This is not to say that I don’t believe it’s real. It was very real to me at the time, but rather that it is merely a poor reflection of what the human heart is capable of as it ages. (If I’m being honest, all love on this earth, romantic or otherwise, is only a reflection of the heavenly source which cannot be fully understood nor experienced until eternity).

But why is it that we tend to idolize young love? Is it because of the apparent innocence? (Though culturally that is lacking in most cases at younger, and younger ages). Is it because of the future potential? Or is it just a reflection of our culture’s obsession with youth in general? While I know I thought that romance in my younger years (including my engagement and marriage to now husband of twelve years) was heady and inspiring, looking back my perspective differs. As I grow older, I see the benefit of commitment over time, overcoming difficulty and how love matures.  Because as we have matured, so has our love. It may not be the flowers and expensive surprises kind of romance, at least not all the time. But it is the dependable, always to be counted on, which if you haven’t experienced it yet, trust me is worth working toward.

Lisa Jo Baker once wrote a great post called “When You Think Your Love Story is Boring.” She talked about the many practical ways her husband has showed his love for her over the years, yet it was rarely like a movie. He’s never run through an airport for her. It was more real.

I find love later in life to be more admirable and romantic. (I remember Dr. Dobson once said that men know they’re getting older when at weddings they notice the mother of the bride more than the bride). Because love later in life, whether searched and longed for over time, or sustained and true since youth, is like comparing a mature garden with one just starting out. In the beginning, there are lots of annuals, and bright colors which look beautiful for a season. But overtime, those are replaced with rose bushes, bulbs and perennials which bloom in cycles and seasons, coming back faithfully each year, but also require extra effort and tending to create the most beautiful blooms. Both gardens are lovely, but there is an exquisite balance, and feeling of the passage of time combined with constant yet ever changing beauty in a well-established landscape.

At nearly twelve years of marriage, I’m beginning to see these blooms in my marriage and it gives me joy when I see other couples, further along the path in years than we because I see what I hope to have someday, if we stand faithful and steadfast. Cuteness and the outward trappings of romance matter less than they once did (though that doesn’t mean they don’t matter at all). I’ll choose the roses of commitment and constant devotion every time.