When you’ve notched 25 years, some life has happened. Mix in 24 years of parenting three kids out of the nest, and the journey is a kaleidoscope of memories. You know love is having its way when such a milestone comes to pass.

We all know it takes more than love as a noun to sustain a relationship. While love is a sentiment we feel towards another, the deeper seed value is love in action. Nothing speaks you matter, you are valuable, you are worthy more than doing the things that show our affection.

My husband and I steep in love after a quarter century. Please don’t think a summer breeze followed us down the wedding aisle. Only kryptonite mettle got us here. Five years into our seeming bliss, we could barely breathe air in the same room. The smog of disillusion was suffocating. These years included the birth of three kids, the divorce of both sets of parents, and a job that kept my husband 60+ hours a week, including travel. Sure we still loved each other. Except the feeling was stagnant and void of any moving parts to prove its validity.

When apathy invades our love nest, one of two scenarios will emerge: relational inertia or purposeful action. Love as a verb will set us free.

As for the hubs and me, we took action and went on a Marriage Encounter weekend. Going in our emotions were a tangled mess. We lost all ability to be transparent in our communication. The pain of our parent’s separation was an IV drip pushing fear into our veins over the success of our own covenant. Raising kids as married singles was a slow bleed the other direction.

However, taking the step forward at least got us moving. Then, the immersion into quality time away from the demands of life and parenting oxygenated our spirits. Three days of love in action in the form of writing letters to one another and reading them aloud lifted the fog. By the end of the weekend, we found the sacred space we once stood upon when vowing our love on the altar.

Choosing to push past being stuck-on-stuck at the five-year mark changed our life. The experience sparked us to serve in marriage ministry for almost 15 years, where being love for other married couples was an in kind transaction to keep love moving for the greater whole.

I’d be lying if I told you the unraveling from our marriage retreat left our relationship unchecked going forward. Our commitment took some serious blows. My rage against the machine of emotional fallout from sexual abuse as a child coupled with an intense battle with bipolar were two of many deterrents to a healthy covenant. Again, love as a verb led to an awakening and renewal of our sacred bond. Because my husband (and children) deserved the best of me, I made the choice to face the worst of me and dive deep into therapy to confront the demons of my past and get a grip on my mental health.

The number of ways my spouse demonstrates his love for me with action and deed is Bible-length at this point in our marriage. God broke the mold when creating my man, and defied gravity in spinning him into my orbit. The thing is, doing the love thing is only as hard as we make it. God wired us with the technology for successful relationships. Love is what we’re made of, and what we’re made of sets us free. When we buck against this truth, trying to navigate through life and the complexity of humanity on our own accord, we miss out on the miracle.

One of the great collateral beauties of love in motion is the movie played out for our kids. When we show them what you matter, you are valuable, you are worthy looks like in real time, the dragonfly effect transcends generations. While our kids won’t always remember what we say, they’ll always remember how our actions made them feel. And feeling the depth of love can never lead them or us astray.

Shelby Spear

A self-described sappy soul whisperer, sarcasm aficionado, and love enthusiast, Shelby is a mom of 3 Millennials writing about motherhood and life from her empty nest. She is the co-author of the book, How Are You Feeling, Momma? (You don't need to say, "I'm fine.") , and you can find her stories in print at Guideposts, around the web at sites like Her View From Home, For Every Mom, Parenting Teens & Tweens and on her blog shelbyspear.com.