My cowboy and I have been married for 26 years – 27 come June. We were young when we married, but we knew we needed to be together. As I think of the Valentine’s Days we’ve experienced over the years, it’s clear that just like other things in life, there are phases. And there are probably more phases to come. Those of you who have been married longer can message me and let me know what’s coming! 

Whitehurst marci
Freelance Writer
Marci Whitehurst is a freelance writer, ranch wife and the mother of three children. You can foll...

Phase 1: Let’s go do something. It’s Valentine’s Day. We should go out to eat. Go somewhere. Buy flowers. Some large gesture of love. Oops, the cows are out.

Phase 2: We have a baby now, the ultimate expression of love. I love you so much that I put on clean clothes for you – 10 times today because that’s how much spit-up I got on me.

Phase 3: Three kids later … I did make you supper, honey, but we have 30 valentines for each kid to sign and I have to bake a million cupcakes by tomorrow for the Valentine’s Day party!

Phase 4: We have to help our kids design Valentine’s receptacles for the cards they are handing out and receiving. I bought cookies and put them on a plate.


Phase 5: Umm, who is sending our kids valentines? Time to do some recon.

Phase 6: I’ll go to this kid’s basketball game. You go to that kid’s indoor track meet. Love you! Let’s celebrate Valentine’s Day next week!

Phase 7: The night is free? Just kidding. The cows are out.

Phase 8: How about a movie on Netflix and grilled cheese?

Phase 9: The last kid is in high school. Want to go out to eat?

Phase 10: In progress …

OK, while all of this did happen, I’m obviously exaggerating. (Except for the million cupcakes. And the cows don’t get out that much.) What I’ve found over the years of being married is that while the love we see in the movies may happen in real life, consistent love is seen in everyday occurrences and hard work. It’s seen in the moments when you really don’t feel like loving someone – like when that someone lets a calf through the cow cut gate. Or when what you said in the corral follows you into the house and all the way through supper.

It’s also sharing moments that may mean nothing to someone else, but to the two of you, it’s everything. I still remember the excitement of our first cow calving. We’ve seen thousands since then, but that first one sticks with you. It’s watching a sunset after irrigating. It’s taking a drive to check things over when you just took one yesterday.

Some of my favorite things my cowboy does are:

  • He catches the horses and will often saddle one for me.
  • Starts the truck to warm it up before heading out to feed or take a drive.
  • Stops what he’s doing to help someone else.
  • Bites his tongue when he really wants to yell.
  • Helps the kids with math homework. (I do other subjects, but once they hit high school, math was his strong point.)
  • Watches movies.
  • Heats up a rice bag for my cold feet.
  • Says, “I’m sorry.” And also forgives.

What I realize after the years together is that commitment happens in the small moments. Our culture often wants to find it in the meet-cute moments of television or the Hallmark “happenstance.” But building trust happens every day in the good times and the bad. It’s rubbing a calf dry when Mom walked off in an April snowstorm. It’s grumping together about April snowstorms. It’s walking out the door to another job and hearing about events on the ranch and vice versa.

We can’t quantify or even pinpoint the moments per se, but they are the ones that add up and build trust, especially when you’re tired. Ranching is tough sometimes. The hours can be long and the work hard, and when we want to run away, we run together. And we come back. Love is having faith in God that binds us together.

Goodness knows the fake snow of a Hallmark set would be a lot easier than the challenges we face, but I’m also pretty content with grilled cheese on Valentine’s Day if it is in the company of my cowboy.