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Love in the Air

Local couples discuss Valentine's Day traditions and relationship tips.

Every year, there is just one thing on the mind of Herndon resident and non-profit developer Chris Mogenson during the week of Feb. 14: fresh roses.

"I go to some length to make sure that I stake out all the spots in town and find the freshest possible roses for Valentine's Day," Mogenson said. "I just see how happy it makes my wife when I bring her flowers, so that always makes me smile."

The reason the roses need to be the freshest, he said, are so his wife Judy, to whom he has been married for 33 years, knows that he put in that extra effort just for her.

"If those rose heads start to wilt after just a couple days, you get the feeling that she'll have that doubt, like, maybe these were last-minute bargain roses," he said. "When you really go out of your way, to me it just shows that you care that much more."

FOR OTHERS, like Reston resident Pat Williams, Valentine's Day brings an added amount of pressure for her husband, she said.

"He's always a very romantic man all year, but I think he dreads those occasions like Valentine's Day," Williams said, "because he knows that he has to do something extraordinary to be better than all of the other times and I think he's afraid he'll flop."

Over the years Williams has been serenaded with a guitar and given countless gifts, but one trend remains the same, and that is the image of kisses.

"He remembers that I told him the first time I fell in love with him is the first time he kissed me, so he always gives me a card with kisses on them," she said. "I'm always so impressed, and that really means a lot to me, that he remembers that."

WITH THE HOLIDAY, couples are often reminded of the romance in their relationships, even after several decades, said Williams. She and her husband have been married for nearly 42 years.

The secret to keeping the relationship going for that long, she said, is simple — finding that one thing that both people can do together.

"Every successful couple has that glue that they use to stick together over the years, its just so important for staying active together," Williams said. For her and her husband, that glue has been outdoor activities like hiking and biking, she said. On their 25th anniversary, the couple biked across the United States.

For Herndon business-owner Hank Allen, who has been married to his wife, Tina, for 41 years, the key to long-term relationship success is in recognizing the personality of one's partner.

"I think you really have to know what is important to the other person, where their weaknesses are and you have to work with the other person to accommodate that," Allen said. "It's not magic. We just tell each other we love one another every day and I just try and stay away from doing something dumb from time to time," he said with a laugh.

WHILE THIS Valentine's Day may be another chance for couples to reassert their love as well as ignite new relationships, others will be sending their love from overseas.

This year at the Herndon Florist, located in downtown Herndon, there have already been more than a dozen orders made over the phone direct from troops serving in Iraq to deliver flowers to wives and girlfriends, said Anne Harvey, the owner of the florist.

It is even more outstanding to Harvey because this is the first year since the start of the war in Iraq in 2003 that the florist has received orders like this.

"I get the feeling that people are feeling kind of lost and misguided, feeling like they want to reach out more to their loved ones here," she said. "Their loved ones are probably worried and doing something like this is just a way of comforting them while they're gone."

"It's really just anything they can do at this time of year."