I saw her in the grocery store; she was wearing a red T-shirt and gray shorts that showed her long legs to great advantage with big ’80s hair. She had her back to me as I was in the next line taking in her gorgeousness, unbeknownst to her. She took my breath away.

The clerk asked her about college and she said, “After six years I’m almost done, just one semester to go.” What a beautiful chassis but not much under the hood, I thought. We paid for our purchases and went our separate ways without meeting or even speaking.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, your chance of getting married before the age of 40 is 86 percent for women and 81 percent for men. In 1962, 50 percent of 21 year olds and 90 percent of 30 year olds were married.

Today’s figures are 8.5 percent for people at age 21 and 53 percent for those who are 30. Mathematicians calculated in Science Tech, as reported by the Daily Mail, that your odds of finding “The One” on any given day is 1 in 562. You can increase those odds by 17 percent with online dating, 16 percent by going out after work and mingling as well as by 15 percent through socializing at the gym. The mathematicians found that being set up by friends or family worked just 1 percent of the time.

Of course things are different now than for earlier generations in so many ways. Bridebook commissioned a scientific survey and found that 89 percent of today’s generation of married couples lived together prior to marriage. In the same survey, couples had a relationship lasting an average of 4.9 years prior to tying the knot, dated exclusively for a year and half of that time then lived together for almost two years and were formally engaged an average of 20 months before walking down the aisle.

Her magazine commissioned a relationship study that chronicled today’s newly marrieds’ dating journey toward matrimony. The average woman had seven relationships prior to marriage while men had eight; both sexes had four “disaster dates” each, women went on two blind dates and men had three. The women reported having seven sexual partners before their eventual husband and hubbies confessed to 10. The average woman kissed 15 frogs before finding her prince, men kissed 16 different women while each sex, on average, fell in love twice having their hearts ripped out before eventually meeting Mr. or Ms. Right.

The Cornell Marriage Project interviewed 700 people married only once for a lifetime who have a combined total of 40,000 years of matrimony between them on what makes for a long, happy marriage. Those couples said, “Don’t settle for just anyone because you’re afraid you’ll end up unmarried, cultivate good communication, prioritize your partner’s needs even before the children’s, don’t fight when you’re hungry, be willing to change, take care of yourself and treat marriage like a long term-commitment.”

Imagine my surprise when the grocery store coed showed up across the hall as Jerry Opbroek’s student teacher on the following Monday. I made a sensitive remark like, “Has anyone seen the babe student teacher across the hall?” in jest to my students. A shy girl named Cheryl raised her hand and said, “That’s my sister. You should go out with her.”

After a little protest with some hemming and hawing, I did. It turns out the long university career included a stint working in the federal fish hatchery in Yankton and she was finishing a master’s in biology degree, hence the six years in college.

We met, formally, in October of 1987. We got engaged on December 15, 1987, and married July 30, 1988. The 32 years I’ve known and been with Julie have been the happiest of my life.

She is a nationally recognized science educator and still takes my breath away. Happy Valentine’s Day to you and your special someone.