One day not too long ago, my husband did something sweet, reminding me that true love is very different from what we learn about through movies and books.
The truth is, once you have children, it's easy to feel that your marriage has become a logistical arrangement and your relationship has taken a back seat to the children's needs.
Perhaps it's because we often think of love as date nights, romantic dinners, weekend getaways, and extravagant gifts. Maybe it's because we think of love as that crazy passion from the first months of dating or that honeymoon bliss with no arguments and disagreements.
Whatever it is, with time, I've learned that real love is made of the everyday stuff that cements a relationship over the years, the experiences that build a family, and the security and stability that make a home.
As a stay-at-home mom, it's easy to focus on all the things I gave up when I made the choice to prioritize my husband and kids over my career. It's harder to remember the many things I've gained -- not only as a mother, but as a spouse as well.
So for the times I forget, here are 50 different shades of true love to remind me of how blessed I am when I experience even just a few:
- Your husband running to the 24-hour pharmacy around midnight because you have a headache.
Watching your favorite show together and laughing at your own inside jokes.
Looking at your child and finding your spouse in them and loving them both just a little more for it.
Your wife having dinner ready the minute you get home because she knows you had a long day with no time for lunch.
Making each other something to drink as you cuddle up to a nice movie.
Listening to your spouse complain about the most mundane thing and comforting them like it's the end of the world.
Your husband cleaning up the kitchen after work because he knows you also had a long day at home.
Taking a different route home so you can pick up your husband's favorite bread for breakfast.
Laughing at yourselves even when you're in the middle of a fight.
Talking to your spouse about a topic you have no interest in because you know they enjoy it.
Saying thank you for something your spouse has done, and really meaning it.
Taking the longer way home to pick up your wife's favorite dessert.
Going to the restaurant you don't really love because you know your partner adores it.
Saying sorry and knowing that, even without an explanation, it's enough.
Picking up your baby at the first whimper so your husband can sleep because he has an important meeting the next day.
Never ordering the same dish at a restaurant because you share everything.
Encouraging your spouse to do that one thing they've always wanted but been afraid to do.
Enjoying the most mundane thing together -- like grocery shopping, or a cup of coffee.
Sleeping in the baby's room with the door closed so your wife can get a full eight hours of sleep.
Telling your partner that you loved their cooking, even if it wasn't your favorite meal.
Hugging your spouse out of nowhere and for no reason -- just because.
Looking at each other from across the room and knowing exactly what the other person is thinking.
Laughing at your partner's not-so-funny joke, or finding it funny because you love them.
Telling your spouse that you're not too tired to go out or do something they need, because you know they've had a long day, too.
Knowing your partner's smallest quirks and finding them endearing.
Trusting that your spouse will always give you the best advice.
Finding that your partner is the first person on your mind when you want to share something good or bad that has happened to you.
Giving up that last piece of pie, or that last sandwich bite, or the end of an ice cream cone.
Looking at your partner in a crowded room and thinking they are the best-looking person you've ever seen.
Feeling like you are spending the best time together, even when one of you is reading and the other is watching TV.
Falling asleep in the passenger seat because you trust your partner with your life.
Taking the aisle seat because your spouse prefers the window.
Crying in front of your spouse and not feeling ashamed.
Enjoying take-out food on the floor in your new house because furniture hasn't arrived.
Saving the ticket stub from your first movie or trip.
Leaving a simple, unexpected gift under their pillow... just because.
Handing your partner a towel straight out of the dryer so they feel warm after a shower.
Complimenting them out of nowhere on the most ordinary thing.
Reading in bed together before going to sleep.
Playing Scrabble late on a cold night while sipping hot chocolate.
Trading dishes at a restaurant because your partner preferred yours.
Getting up a little early to brew a cup of tea for your partner because they have a cold.
Surprising your spouse with a homemade birthday cake.
Holding your partner's hand outside the doctor's office and reassuring them that everything will be OK.
Looking into each other's eyes and knowing you feel the same sense of pride at something your child has done.
Talking about old times with a smile on your face.
Staying up really late or waking up very early to greet your spouse when they come home from a work trip.
Feeling your partner's pain as if it were your own, and even wishing that it were.
Respecting your spouse, even when you completely disagree with them.
Keeping your promises, no matter how small.
What are some other shades of true love for you?
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