Steven and Melissa have a funny little story of how they met… over a bottle of root beer shampoo that was a gift at a white elephant exchange at their church. But that bottle of odd shampoo was enough to get them chatting! Just a few days later, Steven got up the courage to call Melissa. After that, according to Melissa, they “spent every single day together until we were married just seven months later.”

Because they were so young (Steven was 23 and Melissa was 19), Steven had a little trouble convincing Melissa’s mom to give her blessing for their marriage. “When I first asked Melissa’s mom for permission to marry Melissa, she denied me, telling me we were too young and it wouldn’t work. I took this very hard. At first I felt like we would just marry without her blessing, but I realized I wanted her blessing more than anything and I would do anything to gain it. It took a week or two before she realized we were truly serious and finally gave in. I must admit ever since that day I feel like I must live up to that commitment I gave to her that I would take care of her daughter. I don’t want to let her down.”

So just seven months after meeting, Steven and Melissa tied the knot in a simple church ceremony and backyard reception. Melissa explains, “Our wedding was extremely simple. We had virtually no money, just our love. We were married in our church, and then had an open house reception in Steven’s parents’ backyard because we couldn’t afford anything more. It was an incredible day though, we were so happy and it didn’t matter even if we never got to eat anything at the reception!”

Melissa said their first year of marriage was the hardest. “Our first year of marriage had its trials and successes. We were poorer than most church mice. Our first apartment was $400/month and we could hardly afford it. But our first fight was one to remember: it wasn’t about the toothpaste or which direction the toilet paper should face but about cheese. We were at Costco and only had enough money to buy one block of cheese. Not two, one. Steven wanted Colby Jack and I wanted Mozzarella. We had been so kind to one another, but then suddenly the tension had risen and it broke over the cheese. We both left Costco without any cheese that day.

“It wasn’t really about which cheese was better or that we could just afford one or the other. We realized we hadn’t been communicating well enough. We both had been trying to just make the other happy in all things. Without being honest and up front about how we felt about different things, the tension rose and eventually a straw broke the camel’s back.”

Over the course of their ten years of marriage, Steven and Melissa have remembered their first fight and worked to communicate with each other. “We are one another’s sounding boards. We know we will be honest with one another and we don’t turn to other people when we need to talk things out, whether good or bad.” The couple has triumphed through working two jobs each while they attended college, job losses, starting a new company, an MBA program, and now three little kids at home. (They welcomed baby Winston on July 30th this year!)

Melissa’s advice to pass along to newlyweds is particularly lovely: “My Mom always gave me the advice that you treat your partner like the person you would want them to become. Not to say that you are trying to change the person, but rather treating them as the person they are capable of being.” What an incredible way to show respect for your spouse throughout the years!

Snapshot of a Marriage” is a series from contributor Emily Westbrooks, who interviews couples on some of their secrets for a strong and successful marriage. With all of our focus on how to make your wedding special, we thought it was important to highlight some ways to make your marriage awesome, too! Click here to see previous Snapshots.

SNAPSHOT SUBMISSIONS  Do you know a married couple whose relationship you admire? Or maybe you’re married and want to share your words of wisdom! We’re now accepting submissions from couples who have been married for ten years or longer. Email Emily at emily@fromchinavillage.com with your first names, how long you’ve been married, and a few sentences about why you’d like to be interviewed for our Snapshot of a Marriage series.
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The night that Sharon and Bill met, at a birthday party for someone neither one of them can quite remember, Sharon went home and called her best friend: “I met this guy tonight, I think I’m going to marry him.” Her friend wasn’t convinced. “Do you even know his last name?” Sharon didn’t see this as a problem. “Nope,” she said, “His name is Bill.”

Since that night, the pair can actually count the number of times they’ve fought! Despite only a few arguments in seventeen years, some of them have been lessons in what their marriage would be like. In the heat of an early argument, Sharon remembers saying to Bill, “Whatever I do has nothing to do with you!” And after she said it, she says she burst out laughing at the absurdity of her statement. Bill says they have referenced the outcome of that argument throughout the years: “Everything that happens, happens to both of you.”

Having struggled with infertility for the past several years, Bill and Sharon are now considering what life together will be like without children, which isn’t what they envisioned. But they’ve come at the situation with the same grace and practicality as they have with those rare fights – looking for the nugget of knowledge that can help inform their relationship in the future. As they face what can be a heartbreaking challenge, they try to remind each other that “the fact that you’re a couple needs to be enough.”

What great advice for couples planning their weddings today, to simply remember that when life takes unexpected turns, one of the best ways to get through is to remind each other that together, you’re enough.

Snapshot of a Marriage | Snippet & Ink Snapshot of a Marriage | Snippet & Ink

Snapshot of a Marriage” is a series from contributor Emily Westbrooks, who interviews couples on some of their secrets for a strong and successful marriage. With all of our focus on how to make your wedding special, we thought it was important to highlight some ways to make your marriage awesome, too! Click here to see previous Snapshots.

SNAPSHOT SUBMISSIONS  Do you know a married couple whose relationship you admire? Or maybe you’re married and want to share your words of wisdom! We’re now accepting submissions from couples who have been married for ten years or longer. Email Emily at emily@fromchinavillage.com with your first names, how long you’ve been married, and a few sentences about why you’d like to be interviewed for our Snapshot of a Marriage series.
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The story of Eric and Courtney’s marriage involves a Disneyland proposal, two wedding days, and living in three different countries. And it also involves a whole lot of lessons about learning to trust each other as a married couple, especially when you’re far from family and friends.

The two met once in college, but as Courtney says, it “didn’t take.” They met again later, but it took them a few years to realize they had been introduced before! Once they were together the second time, it did take and the couple quickly became inseparable.

When it came time for Eric to pop the question, he chose a trip the two were taking to Disneyland. “I had to carry the ring in my pocket for the whole day. I was paranoid the whole time while we were walking around and going on the rides. Luckily I did not lose the ring.” Very lucky indeed!

Eric and Courtney got married at the Malibu Courthouse, and then had a reception back home in Georgia, so they actually celebrate two wedding dates. After tying the knot, Eric and Courtney decided to move to Dubai for work, and learned a few lessons about their relationship in the process. Says Courtney, “The choice to become expats was a pretty formative day. I think it was important that we were both in agreement about the decision 100%. I don’t think it would’ve worked as well without both of us committing to the adventure. We’ve lived in 3 countries so far and I’m sure we have a few more to go. Picking up and moving to a new country, you have to really trust the person you’re with.”

With such big decisions and moves, Eric and Courtney have found that trust to be the key to their success. “We trust each other implicitly. I have rented an apartment, made an offer on a townhouse, and bought a car – none of which Eric had ever seen. On the flip side, I moved Dubai having never been there. I trusted his judgement that we could do it.”

Eric explains another key to their relationship is trusting the other’s strengths: “We have learned how to move through obstacles by letting the one who is best suited to deal with things deal with it. Whether its cooking, cleaning, banking, cars, cats, etc – we know where each other’s strengths are. We work quite well together, completing tasks by dividing and conquering. I’m pretty sure we would win the Amazing Race if we were ever cast on the show!”

In their time together, the two have learned to rely on each other for company, as well as the importance of taking time as individuals. “I think through our world travels and moving for work, we have learned how to appreciate each other’s company,” says Eric. “There have been times where we were the only people we hung out with for weeks at a time when we first moved to Dubai. We didn’t kill each other – but there were times where we came close.” And in order to keep sane, the two make sure to spend time apart. Courtney explains, “While we do a lot of things together, we still occasionally travel apart. Both of us have active work lives and spend time with friends separately.”

Between their trust in each other, and their ability to recognize when they might need time apart, I’d say Courtney and Eric are already succeeding at their very own Amazing Race!

Photo by Starthrower Photography.

 

Snapshot of a Marriage” is a series from contributor Emily Westbrooks, who interviews couples on some of their secrets for a strong and successful marriage. With all of our focus on how to make your wedding special, we thought it was important to highlight some ways to make your marriage awesome, too! Click here to see previous Snapshots.

SNAPSHOT SUBMISSIONS  Do you know a married couple whose relationship you admire? Or maybe you’re married and want to share your words of wisdom! We’re now accepting submissions from couples who have been married for ten years or longer. Email Emily at emily@fromchinavillage.com with your first names, how long you’ve been married, and a few sentences about why you’d like to be interviewed for our Snapshot of a Marriage series.
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With all of our focus on how to make your wedding special, we thought it was important to highlight some ways to make your marriage awesome, too. Introducing “Snapshot of a Marriage,” a series from contributor Emily Westbrooks, who interviews couples on some of their secrets for a strong and successful marriage.

 Josh and Debs’s first meeting wasn’t picture perfect, but it certainly was memorable! The two were paired together to play doubles tennis in high school, and Debs remembers, “Josh told me after a few minutes of playing that maybe if I left the court then he could win the doubles match! I followed that nice comment up with the equally nice gesture of throwing his racket out over the fence!”

But the seeds of their friendship were planted, and the two found themselves spending more and more time together. Five years later, Josh was ready to pop the question. “My proposal wasn’t very calculated. It was more an explosion of youthful excitement. I had spent the summer as a 19 year-old working landscaping in California to pay for a small diamond. I had been away from Debs for three months and had spent hours staring at the small ring waiting to give it to her. I should have thought a little more about presenting it to her, maybe getting down on one knee even? Maybe talking to her parents beforehand? As soon as I had her alone, I gave her the ring. It was still in a paper bag! I wish I had realized that this story would be recounted for years to come – I may have thought it through a little more carefully!”

Over more than eighteen years, Josh and Debs have experienced the ups and downs of marriage, but learned how to work through them. Debs explains how a particularly difficult time in their marriage was also a particularly important time in their relationship: “After we welcomed our third child into our family I had a devastating year of postpartum depression. Within a short time I really lost all connection to the world around me, I couldn’t eat, sleep or interact with people. I was not able to make any decisions that remotely made sense in regards to the baby or my other kids or life in general. During that year Josh was incredibly calm, deeply caring and literally kept every single part of our lives together. He cooked, cleaned, took care of the kids, worked his computer engineering job, led the youth ministry and waited for me to slowly pull out of the heavy fog I was under. He never tried to force me to feel better or act like I was better. He did, however, pray and trust that healing would be full and complete. Which it was and is.”

In recent years, Josh and Debs have started officiating weddings and working with couples leading up to their weddings. They also often talk with couples about how to receive the waves of advice that come from family and friends when a couple is set to get married. Debs recounts the lessons they pass on to new couples, “Advice is so healthy and important and needed, but you have to receive it and filter it through what you know is right for you as a couple and as a family. Humility to hear from others but also strength to make decisions based on who you are and not who others want you to be or expectations around you.”

Josh’s final piece of advice to newlyweds? “It’s not about facts or right or wrong or proof – it’s about love. I wish I had understood that when I was 19!”

SNAPSHOT SUBMISSIONS  Do you know a married couple whose relationship you admire? Or maybe you’re married and want to share your words of wisdom! We’re now accepting submissions from couples who have been married for ten years or longer. Email Emily at emily@fromchinavillage.com with your first names, how long you’ve been married, and a few sentences about why you’d like to be interviewed for our Snapshot of a Marriage series.
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With all of our focus on how to make your wedding special, we thought it was important to highlight some ways to make your marriage awesome, too. Introducing “Snapshot of a Marriage,” a series from contributor Emily Westbrooks, who interviews couples on some of their secrets for a strong and successful marriage.

 Though their paths first crossed when they were just babies, it wasn’t until a local teen dance that Dorothy and Brian really connected. After a few months of dating, though, Dorothy’s mother thought the teenagers were getting too serious about each other. “My mother thought I should be seeing loads of boys,” explains Dorothy. “She thought Brian was monopolizing me.” Taking her mother’s advice, Dorothy decided to break up with Brian, but she was really quite upset about it, so she looked to her uncle, who gave her some welcome advice: “Feel with your heart. It’ll work out if you go with your heart.” A quick phone call later and the two were back together. Dorothy explains, “We really only broke up for a few hours,” and Brian interjects: “No, you broke up. I didn’t!”

Back together, the young couple spent a lot of time together. Dorothy’s family lived out in the countryside and Brian would sometimes stay over in her brother’s room. Dorothy had a trick to make sure Brian always said goodbye in the morning before he took the bus back to his house – she would take his shoes at night so he would have to find her to say goodbye!

A few years later, the two went with their hearts but were also practical about their engagement. They decided they wouldn’t get engaged until they were out of college, and that they would get only married once Brian’s probationary period at his job was over. Even when Brian asked Dorothy to marry him, she stayed grounded, replying, “I’d like to think about it.” But there wasn’t much to really think about. They were married and spent their honeymoon on a skiing holiday. (Well, one of them skied. Dorothy claims she spent most of the time skiing on her butt! Says Brian, “We enjoyed it, didn’t we?” and Dorothy replies, “One of us did!”)

Over more than three decades, Dorothy and Brian have learned what works for them as a couple. Certainly no more skiing holidays, but Dorothy says it was important for her to learn that it was okay for the two of them to be traveling on “parallel tracks, instead of on the same track;” that they didn’t have to share all of the same interests as long as they were moving forward together. The couple used their fridge as a station for messages during years when Brian was working late shifts and they saw little of each other, and found ways to stay close when his work took him outside of the country. To Brian, geography wasn’t too important, “I could live anywhere, as long as I could get her to come with me.”

Dorothy and Brian are set to watch their first daughter marry later this summer. Have they given her any advice ahead of the big day? Dorothy says, “We’ve told all the kids, whoever you’re with has to make you laugh. Does he light up your heart when you see him? Your heart has to skip.” With a loving look at Dorothy, Brian concurs, ”And long may it keep skipping.”

SNAPSHOT SUBMISSIONS  Do you know a married couple whose relationship you admire? Or maybe you’re married and want to share your words of wisdom! We’re now accepting submissions from couples who have been married for ten years or longer. Email Emily at emily@fromchinavillage.com with your first names, how long you’ve been married, and a few sentences about why you’d like to be interviewed for our Snapshot of a Marriage series.
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