GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. - Love shouldn't be a sentiment expressed only once a year on Valentine's Day. Rather, many folks believe it's important to celebrate love every day through respect, compassion, support and kind gestures.
According to Diana Wegh of Fruita, she's been married almost 41 years to husband Sam.
"It would be 44 years if only he would have accepted the first time I proposed!" she said. "We cherish and respect one another, and we say 'I love you' a zillion times a day and mean it!"
Wegh also noted that, on their wedding day, they vowed to follow each other's dreams and they've kept that promise.
"We haven't always succeeded in our endeavors, but sharing the adventure of pursuing our hopes and dreams has made our rough roads bearable and our victories are so much sweeter," she said.
Others asked about life-long marriage said it isn't always easy. But, not sweating the small stuff and staying on the same page makes the road seem less bumpy.
Robin Sanchez, a Cedaredge woman who's been married 27 years, said communication is key to her relationship.
"Never cuss at each other, over anything, ever!" Sanchez said. "That means you've lost respect for your spouse. Don't do that. Honor, cherish and love one another. Marriage is hard work, but every time you work through hard times, you grow together! Never give up and take the D (divorce) word out of your vocabulary. If you don't give yourself an out, you'll be forced to work through it."
She also noted that saying "I love you!" often is important to her romantic relationship.
"We never hang up the phone or go to bed without saying 'I love you!' We try to never go to sleep angry. I think we both work hard on putting the other person first, not ourselves, and making our time together (our) number-one priority. ... We try and keep communication open and allow the other to speak freely, (and) even when it hurts we try (to) talk it out. We agree to disagree!"
And then there's Grand Junction resident Rebecca Arhelger, who took a lighthearted approach to sharing her happy relationship secret.
"(We) keep our fights clean and our alone time dirty," she said.
Since she's been married 17 years, we'll take her at her word.
"(Valentine's Day) is for kids," she added. "Happy couples celebrate every day."
A DAY TO CELEBRATE ALL KINDS OF LOVE
While Valentine's Day is generally viewed as a celebration of romantic love, Grand Junction resident Eric Niederkruger said the holiday is also a great time to honor everyone he cares about.
"It's absolutely crucial to love yourself first," he said. "If you don't, you may end up turning things around and not seeing love around you. Everybody needs love; the more the better."
"I loved making Valentine boxes in elementary school, (secretly fearing I would receive none)," Niederkruger added.
Meg Read of Grand Junction agreed with the concept of celebrating everyone she cares about on Valentine's Day.
"I think people who are not particularly enthusiastic about Valentine's Day are not bashing the concept; they do not like what it is evolved to be," she said. "The people in my life know I love them every day, and even if I didn't have a significant other, I could still celebrate Valentine's Day by reaching out to those I love a bit more."
Read additionally noted that understanding, compromise and forgiveness are key components to keeping love alive on a daily basis.
"We all make mistakes, and nobody is perfect," Read said. "If people cannot learn to love each other with all of our faults and issues, we will never learn how to love at all."
Another Grand Junction resident, Marilee Glencoe, said she'd be lost without all the love she has in her life.
"I am the luckiest woman in the world with my husband, my kids, and my animals," Glencoe said, who's celebrating her five-year wedding anniversary this month.
When asked how to keep love and compassion alive in her relationship, she said "for us, (it's) to not worry about the small things. Whiskers on the sink and shoes left out are so petty and not worth getting mad at your spouse over. We try to take out time for ourselves and find time every day to curl up to each other and have a laugh."