David and I met our senior year in high school. I was right smack dab in the middle of “dating God for a year”- I had promised not to date anyone else and just spend the year focusing on the Lord and the woman He wanted me to become. During that time, I had been working with my youth pastor’s wife and come up with a list of characteristics I wanted in the person I wanted to marry. The 1st half of the list were non-negotiables and were backed up with prayer and scripture. The 2nd half of the list were the “negotiables.” These were the things that I hoped this person would have, but weren’t required. After a lot of time in prayer, during that year, I met David, and after getting to know him, I realized he met every single characteristic on that list- Christian, believed in young-earth Creation, could ballroom dance, generous, kind and patient…EVERYTHING. His sister invited me to go dancing with them and I was swept off my feet from that very night. This, I had to keep secret for a while- I was still in my time of “dating God for a year” and he was talking to someone that was a friend of mine. Over time things were resolved, we found out we were attending the same university , and within the first week of being there, we found out we liked each other. Through that discussion, we both came to the conclusion that we weren’t about the dating for fun scene. We had dated people, but we were just really ready to find the person we were going to spend the rest of our lives with. So that night, we came to an agreement to seriously pray about our relationship until we knew this was what God wanted for us. We came to the understanding that if we started dating, it meant the intentions were to end with marriage, and David knew, when he asked my dad if he could date me, he would also be asking with the clear intentions of marrying me in the future.
He was ready from the beginning, it took me about a month and I just got to the point where I just needed to hear a clear yes or no from God. I got a yes, We began dating, got engaged about a year and a half later, then married on July 1, 2011, 1 year and 9 months later.
Fast forwarding, today is our 4th wedding anniversary, and boy has it been a wild 4 years. While engaged and in college, we opened up a ballroom dance studio near our university. We got married the summer before our senior year in college. While I finished college, we both took on part time jobs and he continued at the dance studio. Since then, I graduated from college, got my first job as a high school History teacher, bought our first house, our dance business has grown tremendously, bought a building for our business to expand it even more. Through all of this in our 4 years of marriage there are so many things we have learned together.
1) Be patient with your spouse.
You’re making a covenant, a commitment to join your life path with someone for the rest of forever. You have grown up one way, your spouse has grown up a completely different way. You will have to learn to be patient with the other person. You cannot change or fix them. You will have to figure out how to work TOGETHER to resolve differences, make compromises. And sometimes, there won’t be compromises. Sometimes you’ll have to be willing to go one way or the other, for the sake of your spouse, your marriage, and your family.
2) Marriage is not all mushy gushies all the time, or 1950s aprons, baking, and pearls. It will not be what you expected but it will grow you in a way unimaginable. Learn to love, forgive, and respect, even when it’s hard and scary.
My idea of marriage (before marriage) was that I would keep the house clean, I would bake, cook for my husband, wear cute dresses, and look good doing all of it, all the time. In reality, I was a college student taking 21.5 credit hours in History and Education courses, working a part-time job, helping my husband run a business, and trying to keep up a house. Needless to say, I bawled often in the first 6 months of our marriage. I had to learn how to LET GO of my expectations of what marriage should be so that I could be willing to learn with my husband and figure it out together. I had to learn how to forgive myself for not getting everything checked off my crazy to-do list at the end of the day, and I had to be willing to say it was okay. During our time of marriage, I feel like it’s been a lot different than experiences of some of our friends that got married around the same time. Between all the stresses of stuff we had going on, we’ve had our arguments, but through all of it, we’ve had to learn to forgive, to compromise, and choose love and patience even when it was really hard. There will be times in marriage when you wake up and just don’t feel the mushies. So many people say that about their marriages and then say, oh, well, it must be over. No. Absolutely not. That’s something that David and I agreed on before we got married- divorce is ABSOLUTELY 100% NOT an option for us. If we have issues, we’ll have to figure it out together, we’ll have to figure out how to forgive, fix, and move on. People have laughed at us. People have told us that we’ll change (we have), but that doesn’t change the commitment we made to each other before God and all our friends and family. Those times when the mushies just aren’t around, I pray, for my heart to be softened and that God would help me learn how to love and respect. Knowing and choosing that divorce isn’t an option forces you to figure it out- look at yourself first to correct areas you’re struggling, and PRAY!!! Pray that God would help you, help your spouse, and help your marriage.
3) Choose joy and optimism.
This one is a biggy for me. My husband, if you’ve ever met him, he is literally the NICEST person you could ever meet. He is pretty much always happy, smiling. He would give you the shirt off his back if you needed it. Take that ray of sunshine and turn it inside out and that’s where you’ll find me. David and I are complete opposites when it comes to how we view “the glass.” I’m the realist, he’s the optimist. But that’s another big blessing of marriage. I believe when God puts 2 people together, they’re not meant to “complete” each other but to “compliment” each other. In our case, God put us in the perfect match for each other. We challenge and help each other. I know that there have been so many times I’ve been the rain on David’s parade, but being married to him has taught me so much about myself. Being with him has allowed me to see there are a lot of things about my habits and personality traits that I really don’t like and that I want to and can change. Being married to David has challenged me to choose optimism over negativity. This is a huge struggle for me that I know I have failed at over and over and over. I’m a worry-wart, always have been, but I don’t always have to be. The times that I fail, when I’m Mrs. Nancy Negativity, David encourages me to pick back up and carry on. He is the sunshine breaking through the storm clouds of my mind. God knew what he was doing when He put us together, and I am SO blessed for it.
4) If you are a Christian, always, always, ALWAYS, always keep God at the center of your individual lives and the center of your marriage.
This is the biggest lesson I’ve learned over the past 4 years. Just because I’ve learned it definitely does not mean I’ve perfected it. Through the time we’ve been married, we have run into A LOT of scary and very stressful situations, but God worked every single one of them out. During our 1st year of marriage, while I was looking for a job we were also trying to find a house to buy. We had a very VERY small house buying budget, but we knew there was no way we could afford to rent on what we were bringing in. We had to figure out how to balance our schedules to go look at houses with our parents and realtor (Which if you need one- Nicole Orringer is amazing- she worked with our schedules and was SOOO patient with us!). Everytime we viewed a house, it was either amazing and we fell in love then had our hopes dashed by being outbid, or it was total junk and needed tons of repairs. When it came to looking for a job, I sent my resume in to so many places, had multiple interviews that fell through, and I was becoming hopeless. One day, I finally just gave up. I was stressed, overwhelmed, and bawling. I went in to my waitressing job with swollen, red, teary eyes and my boss just raised his eyebrows and asked if everything was okay. That night, I gave up. While things were slow I wrote on my waitress pad the things I was stressed about- the studio, our personal finances, finding a house, getting a job. I just couldn’t do it anymore. I remember praying in my head- “God, you’re the Creator of math. You know all things. I can’t make the numbers fit, I can’t do this. Here. Take all this stuff and work it out if You are willing.” That very night, I figured I’d just try again, so I looked online and low and behold, a new house was listed- brick, screened in back porch, doggie door and fenced-in back yard (for our dogs), it was in our price range, and it was in good condition. Within 2 weeks, we were in the process of becoming homeowners. When it came to my job, I had interviewed at multiple high schools and they’d all fallen through. Last minute, I went to the a county schools jobs fair and handed my resume out. I ended up getting a call for an interview. Later that week I received a letter in the mail and I knew it was a rejection letter. I had it in hand, about to open it, when my phone rang. It was the principal of the school I’d gotten the letter from, He asked if I’d gotten the letter- I told him I had literally JUST gotten it from the mailbox- he said, “Well, don’t open it. I just had another history teacher come in and tell me she has to move next week due to family reasons, and we would like to offer you that position if you are still available?” My response? “YES! Yes, yes, yes. I am definitely still available!” There are so many other crazy, stressful, scary, depressing adventures we have been through since we’ve gotten married, but all this to say, God has always been there for us- in good times and bad. He has always worked every situation for our betterment. It doesn’t mean every situation was amazing and wonderful, it doesn’t mean everything we’ve been through was easy and comfortable, but He has always guided us through (Romans 8:28, Jeremiah 29:11). Looking back (and I know we’ve only been married 4 years, that’s not a lot compared to others like my parents and grandparents), I’ve seen a pattern. The times in our marriage where we have been diligently in the Word and in prayer individually and together, have been some of the best in our marriage. Again, not the easiest or most comfortable, but definitely the most rewarding and joyful. The times when we’ve been far from God were some of the hardest, most stressful. So no matter what, always keep God at your center- of your heart and your marriage- and you’ll see some amazing things. And even when you don’t “feel” like it- just pray. Be REAL with God- He wants you to be. Tell Him you just don’t desire, ask Him to give you the desire for prayer and His Word, and He will.
I have been SO blessed to have these 4 years. Just reflecting back over these 4 years has stirred a new fire in my heart- for my Lord, for my husband, and for the crazy adventures we’ll see in the years to come. Marriage is hard, but it is amazing and it WILL change you for the better, if you allow it and God to do so.