This weekend is our 5th wedding anniversary! I can’t believe five years have gone by. Our marriage has been both tested and strengthened over these years.
I would describe our relationship as slow, steady, and stable. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
My husband and I met in August 2002 in a Lutheran high school. The school was only in it’s third year, so it was a little double-wide trailer. There were six of us – four boys and two girls – our freshmen year, but for the next three years, it was the four boys and me.
I remember walking into that first classroom on that first day. It was art class. I was shy, quiet, and unsure of myself. I looked at each boy’s face, and I remember thinking, My parents met in high school. Will I end up marrying one of these boys? One boy’s body language seemed so hostile. He sat slumped in his chair, frowning, clearly unhappy to be at this small school rather than one of the larger public schools. At that moment, I had no way of knowing that that boy was an amazing athlete, skilled in music, academically gifted, and – best of all – faithful to God, and one day, we would be married.
Over the next four years, I chatted with the four boys who were my classmates. I got along best with Frank and his twin brother. Their parents were teachers at our school. My senior year, I remember feeling a connection with their mom, who taught a music class I loved. That year, I was going through a rough time watching my best friend’s family get torn apart while her father was charged with child molestation and abuse. Frank’s mother was very supportive. There was one day her dad caught me alone and cornered me. His mother came to my rescue and chased him out. I have never seen such a petite and meek woman transform into such a protective bear, and I will never forget it.
Frank and I never dated in high school. I heard rumors that he “liked” me. I dismissed the rumors as false; he was gifted in so many ways and very popular. I was so quiet and had few friends. It seemed impossible that he would have any interest in me. And yet, as our senior year came to an end, little things started happening. He danced with me at prom. He hugged me at graduation. I was confused – were these somewhat uncharacteristic actions because he “liked” me or simply part of senior year celebrations? I decided to put it to the test. At my graduation party, Frank hugged me goodbye; it was easy and natural and simple. I then turned to his twin brother to hug him goodbye; it was completely awkward. A handshake would have sufficed.
The summer passed, and it was time to head to college. Four out of five of my high school class decided on the same university. Frank had been there for some time for soccer conditioning, so he already had a circle of friends. I arrived on campus feeling completely lost in a dorm full of girls after spending so much time in a class of all boys. I was so grateful for the freshmen orientation activities so I could hang out with the guys I knew. When Frank saw me, he came up and immediately hugged me, then got self conscious and let go so suddenly, I almost fell over. That was when I knew. That was when, despite my confusion on how he could be interested in me, he was in fact interested. We began going for walks around campus and on the trails in the woods of Ann Arbor. A few weeks into that freshmen year, he asked me out on September 25th. We went as a couple that evening to a Christian concert that was being held on campus.
We rarely had classes together. I was an English major in the secondary education program. He was a biblical languages major in the pre-seminary program. He was on the soccer team and had games and practices and year-round conditioning. We both had jobs. But we spent our free time together, watching movies in his dorm room late into the night on weekends, as far as dorm hours allowed. Over Christmas, Easter, and summer vacations, we visited each other at our parents’ houses.
During Easter break of our junior year, I visited Frank at his parents’ house on Holy Saturday. He took me to Hidden Lake Gardens for a date. As we were walking around this little area enclosed by pine trees, he dropped to one knee and asked me to marry him. I said, “Yes,” dropped to my knees, and hugged him. He surprised me with his dad’s nice camera and tripod, and we took engagement pictures. At one point, we had to stop so I could sit down because I got light headed. I felt so foolish because I had never felt “faint” due to happy emotions before.
I was in a 5-year program, but at the end of our senior year, I walked with my class next to my fiancé during the graduation ceremony. Just a few weeks later, we were married by his father at his father’s little country church, surrounded by family and friends.
Our first year of marriage was very different from most people’s. I still had one semester left of college and one semester of student teaching, which meant another year of tuition at a Christian university ($31,000 a year). Student teaching is an unpaid internship, and the university did not allow student teachers to have a job during the internship. This meant we had very, very little money. We rented a little 650 square foot apartment, and one of Frank’s friends lived with us out of the second bedroom to help split the rent. Frank worked crazy hours in retail. My student teaching had me working at a high school from 8am – 4pm. Some nights, I was there until 8pm working with the drama club. Once I was home, I was making lesson plans, unit plans, reports for my professors, and grading papers, often until midnight. We were married, but it was lonely.
Once I finished my classes and internship, it was time to move to Fort Wayne for Frank to start graduate school at the Lutheran seminary. We packed up and moved away from our families. More student loans were taken out (seminary is about $47,000 a year), and I began teaching at a daycare / after-school program. One set of parents from the daycare offered me a job with better pay as a personal nanny and an employee in their business. I began working 50 hours a week while Frank took classes, did homework, performed field work duties at a local church, and worked in retail. We rarely saw each other, but we left notes for each other in the mornings and texted each other on our breaks.
We’ve had health challenges – depression, sickness requiring hospitalizations, injuries requiring months of physical therapy. But we’ve been there for each other and prayed for each other and with each other. We never gave up on each other, and God never gave up on us.
Last summer, it was time for Frank’s internship (called a vicarage). We moved out-of-state to Frank’s assignment. I worked from home as a nanny this past year. Although Frank has been busy, we eat together and go on dates. This past year has shown me that putting hard work and patience into a marriage is so worth it, and the love we have for each other and for God overcomes all challenges. Marriage isn’t perfect, and it isn’t easy, but it has been wonderful. I wouldn’t change any of what we have been through.
This coming year will have many changes. We are moving back to Fort Wayne for our final year of seminary. We’re going to be facing more tuition, and this year, I won’t have a job, that is, a job that pays. I will, however, have the best job in the world – being a mother. We are so excited for our baby girl, with an estimated due date of September 25th – the same date Frank asked me out. In the end of April 2016, we will be told where Frank will have his first assignment as pastor. It’ll be in America somewhere, but that’s all we know.
Will our marriage continue to have challenges? Of course. Will God remain with us throughout those challenges? Without a doubt. People told us we wouldn’t make it. People told us we moved too slowly – didn’t date soon enough, dated too long, were engaged too long, or were too “old fashioned” by saving sex for marriage. But here we are, five years later, more in love and stronger than ever. We believed that going about marriage the way God designed it would bless our marriage, and God has certainly blessed us. Slow, steady, and stable.
I am excited for the future adventures my husband and I will share together, and I cannot wait to experience all that God has planned for us!