Love List 2024: Andrew Carlson & Riku Nozaki

by | Jan 1, 2024 | 1 comment

2024 Love List

Andrew Carlson & Riku NozakiMadison, 7 years
Andrea & Genia StevensBeloit, 15 years
Melanie Jones (she/her) & Christen Lester-Jones (she/her), Madison, 11.5 years
Nick & Reegan Jensen-Shafer, La Crosse, 17 years
Lynn Mayer & Gigi Vail, Madison, 5.5 years


It’s tough feeling close when your partner lives far away. Thank goodness for video calls and texts, but the magic of the internet can’t replace the kisses, cuddles, and quality time. Not yet, at least. Riku and I spent almost half of our seven-year-and-counting relationship on opposite sides of the planet—him in Japan and me in the US. And if long distance taught us anything, it was how to get creative with communicating love.

One of our favorite long-distance traditions stuck even after moving to Madison together, and we do it every Valentine’s Day. It’s simple and intimate, and we’re excited to share it with you:

We start by each writing down 5–10 questions on slips of paper and tossing them into a hat. Then we take turns drawing one and reading it aloud. No question is off limits, and we both answer each one. We like to have some lighthearted ones (“Would you rather be an orca or a shark?”) mixed in with some deeper ones (“When are we happiest together?”). We’ve thrown in sexy, stupid, and even financial questions, while some have helped us look to the future (“When do we see ourselves having a child?”).

For us, these Valentine’s Questions pair well with a Pinot Noir. And when we were long distance, we’d be sure to pick a bottle that we could both find. Sharing the same taste helped us feel just a bit closer.

After our answers and wine, we lay out all the questions and take a picture. We look back at them to see how our relationship has evolved. It’s like a little snapshot of what was on our minds that year. Sometimes questions repeat themselves, and sometimes the answers change. In 2022, Riku wrote “When will we get a dog?” and I wrote “What should we name our dog?” Now in 2023, we’re still dogless, but we’ve adopted—and are completely enamored with—our black cat Winnie. Last year, we never would have identified as cat people. But hey, things change.

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1 Comment

  1. You two are relationship goals!

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