Celebrating love on Valentine's Day is unique for every couple. Whether it's dinner out or a romantic candlelight meal at home, flowers and gifts exchanged, or camping and fishing, it's about making special memories that matter to them. And for many families it may not involve so much romance, but tons of love.
Couples who stay together like spending time together, share common values, and count each year a blessing.
Newlyweds Brandi and William Morgan married a year after their first date on Nov. 17, 2019. They met through the Life Church she was helping plant in Tahlequah. She noticed when he walked in to the informational meeting, but she wasn't interested in dating at the time. Three months later, when he asked her out, she said yes - partly so her friends would stop telling her she needed to be dating.
"I made a list of 26 qualities and I put my kids on it, too. I put it all out there because there was no way any man would have them all," she said. "Number one on the list was God-filled, along with kind, attractive, attentive, shows love, good role model for kids, fun..."
William was also not looking for marriage originally, but knew if he did meet the right woman, she would be running the same race at the same pace.
"I had my eyes on the Lord and obeying him," he said. "So does Brandi."
He appreciates that she says what's on her mind in a nice way and helps him be a better person.
"She helps me be a better me. Building me up is one way and she makes me want to be a better person. She pulls the best qualities out of me," he said. "I could not find a better partner."
Happy couples seem to have a long list of what they value and appreciate about each other.
Artist Kelly Pennington loves to paint Tahlequah with plein air painters. What she values about her husband Stan is that "he believes in me, understands me, is spontaneous, witty, intelligent, adventurous, genuine and has a heart of gold."
Being best friends is what Kelon and Amy Carter believe will help their marriage last. As business partners they also work in harmony, a challenge not every couple could, or would want to do.
The Carters were friends, as they both lived in Tulsa, when they ran into each other in Vegas at a convention.
"It seemed like it was meant to be," said Amy. "And we decided to go into business together."
While she appreciates that Kelon knows how to fix her hair and gives a good scalp massage, Amy said she especially likes his low, deep and calm voice. The key to working together is not taking it home, she said.
"We nip difficulties quickly and focus on the positive," she said.
For Kelon, there are so many things he appreciates about Amy.
"Her inner child is very much alive. I mean she approaches everything with a sparkle - with curiosity, and awe, and excitement, which is a virtue to me," Kelon said.
Deana Franke said on a Facebook thread she values that her husband Mike is kind, thoughtful, funny and an amazing dad and papa.
"He puts up with and sometimes helps me with gardening projects and plays his guitar like a wild man. What more could I ask for?" said Franke.
Getting to know someone beyond the superficial persona is how people discover what they respect and value. Terasa and Pat Bilon have been married 32 years. They were both serving in the military when they met.
"He's always got something funny to say," said Terasa.
It took getting to know who he was as a person verses as a soldier, and it was his honesty and determination that she admired.
"I can't see myself with anyone else. He's it," she said.
Laughter is a top priority for some when asked what they value in their spouse, including Shayna and Mark Turner, who met at the school their children attended and have been married a little more than a year.
"He was very persistent. He asked me out for breakfast, which seemed less like a date - more relaxed," Shayna said. "And he took me to do outdoor things [like] hiking and kayaking - simple things - and we had fun together."
One of her favorite things about Mark is that he enjoys spending time with her.
"He's my best friend and he always makes me laugh. He's honest, generous and loyal, and he's a really good dad. That impressed me," she said. "He's very deep and intelligent, and wordy. He says I'm the best thing that happened to him."
The most admirable thing about Shayna is her faith, said Mark.
"Second is her dedication to our kids. We have a mixed family and she truly loves my kids like her own. I'm proud my daughter gets to live with such a great role model," he said.
The first time Carol Ann Albro met her husband Scot, he was dating her friend, but she knew they were meant to be together.
"That was just a fact in my mind," she said. "Scot considers me and my happiness in every choice he makes. Or it feels that way. He is always grateful for me and what I do, and that immediately makes me feel grateful for him. I don't really know to explain it better than that."
Married 23 years this year, Sharon Groth Sanford says her guy is kind, gentle and loving.
"This sweet man walked into my work 25 years ago and I knew right then and there he was my always and forever. He is an amazing father to my children who love him dearly," she said. "We have gone through pretty bad times and amazing times. There isn't a day that goes by that he doesn't tell me how much he loves me. As we always say to each other, 'You are the love of my life, my partner in crime, my best friend - forever grateful.'"