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.

 Jonathan and Tamar met at a summer teen conference in Germany. When Jonathan saw Tamar from afar, he turned to a friend and said, “I could marry a girl like that.” And he was only fifteen!

It took him two more summers of conferences to get up the courage to ask her to lunch, but from then on the two were an item. When they parted ways after the few weeks and returned to their respective countries, Ireland and Holland, they began writing each other letters. “I told her my email was broken because I wanted to write to her,” says Jonathan. But Tamar didn’t mind at all, “I got to know him in a whole different way.”

Two years later, the couple were married and started their life together in Holland, but they quickly found that their schedules left little time for them as a couple. Three years into their marriage, Tamar and Jonathan took advice from a mentor. “He pointed out that we needed to re-prioritize. He suggested we plan time not to do anything, just to be together,” says Tamar. That extra time together, focusing on each other, did just the trick. “We still do that, even now,” she says. Jonathan agrees with a laugh, “We find it quite easy to drop the kids off with the grandparents!”

As the couple has moved around the world, from Holland to India to Ireland, and added two children to their family, they’ve come up with a system for making family decisions that keeps them on the same page. Tamar explains, “We constantly seek out the peace. No decision gets made unless we both have peace about it.”

Jonathan beams as he says, ”We forge peace together, we carve out time together, and we make sure we’re each other’s top priority.” It’s clear that ten years in, the still-smitten couple’s system is working.

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.

Not many couples can say they have a president to thank for their marriage, but Breck and Elizabeth can. During the gas shortages in 1978, President Jimmy Carter put limits on who could buy gas for their cars on certain days. Elizabeth forgot to fill up her car and ran out of gas, so she turned to fellow law school classmate Breck for a lift to the library that night. According to Elizabeth, “If Jimmy Carter hadn’t declared odd and even gas days, we might not have gotten together!”

Instead of studying, the two spent hours in the coffee room, chatting away. But there were still a few kinks to work out early on. Both Elizabeth and Breck were recently divorced. They had been dating for a month when one of Breck’s housemates took Elizabeth aside and said he thought Breck should really be playing the field instead of getting serious so soon after his last marriage. That night on the way home, Elizabeth tried to slow things down with Breck, saying it was too soon for both of them. But Breck wasn’t having any of it. He pulled over to the side of the road and said, “Shut up, Elizabeth, I want to marry you!”

And that was that. A year and a half later, the two were married, and their friends and family all gathered to wish them well. That opinionated housemate of Breck’s? Even he got on board. Elizabeth says, “The ones who mattered to us had no problem with it.”

Breck offered Elizabeth a choice: an engagement ring or a honeymoon. She chose the latter and was pleasantly surprised when Breck planned a trip to Ireland to celebrate their wedding. Thirty-two years, two kids, and a few more dogs later, Elizabeth and Breck now enjoy traveling together, and have returned to Ireland six more times since their honeymoon!

Having both been married before, Breck and Elizabeth learned a few things before walking down the aisle again. “In my first marriage I was too quick to judge and be ready to argue about things,” says Elizabeth. Breck says, “You need someone there to be your friend. When times get bad, you’ve got friendship to lean back on.” Breck’s best trick for a happy marriage has been to maintain his sense of humor: “Even at 2am when life gets a little bit raw, you have to remember your sense of humor. You may not be able to laugh about it at the time, but you’ve got to try to set it up so you can laugh at it later.”

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.
2 comments posted +add a comment SEE MORE: Snapshots

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.

More than 70 years ago, David was looking for a date to take to a friend’s wedding. He asked Daisy, a classmate of his sister, but she had to turn him down. The reason? She didn’t have a dress to wear! Luckily, David’s sister loaned Daisy a gown, and it’s a good thing she did: Daisy and David have been together ever since.

Shortly after they became a couple, David was headed off to fight in World War II. Before he left for basic training, he told Daisy, “I’ll be going into the Army soon and we’re going to get engaged before I leave.” David left New York and headed to basic training in Florida. When he got news that he was being sent to Germany, Daisy boarded a train for her first trip outside New York state. She arrived in Florida and the couple were married in a civil ceremony, sealing the deal with a $1 ring from the local five and dime.

Two and a half years later, David came home from the war, making the long journey by ship. Like many soldiers, he passed the time playing games of craps – but David got lucky, winning enough money to buy his bride the ring he knew she deserved. And when he returned, the couple had a second wedding to match the new ring, with a small Jewish ceremony their families could take part in. “My sister-in-law loaned me her wedding gown, my mother made a little wedding party in the apartment, and the rabbi lived in the same building so he married us.”

“When I got married,” says Daisy, “my mother said to me, Your husband comes first because he is the breadwinner. Today I would say it should be a two way street. I like today’s society better than mine, it’s more equal.”

And Daisy hasn’t passed on her mother’s advice to the three daughters she and David have. Instead, Daisy says it’s about patience, compromise, and a sweet gesture here and there. “You give a little bit, your spouse gives a little bit, it’s compromise. You work at it every day. Even though we’re married seventy years, if I see a little card for my hubby, I leave it on the bed.”

David agrees, “It’s all what you make out of a marriage.”

And Daisy and David can certainly be very proud of what they’ve made of theirs!

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.
2 comments posted +add a comment SEE MORE: Snapshots

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.

Vitaliy was an exchange student at college in Chicago, entering his senior year, when he met Candace. He was chatting with a few friends at a cafeteria table, and mentioned his home country Ukraine. Sitting just a few seats down, Candace perked up when she heard mention of the country that she remembered from her grandmother’s Christmas traditions.

When Vitaliy’s friends left, Candace scooted down and started asking questions about the Ukraine. She was sure Vitaliy could tell her more about her grandmother’s culture, the details of which had been lost to her family when her grandmother died. Says Candace, “I thought, He has the info I need and he’s going to give it to me.” Vitaliy, meanwhile, was unconvinced, returning to his room and telling his roommate, “Man, that girl is crazy!” But Candace was persistent, the couple started spending more time together, and they were soon boyfriend and girlfriend.

When the couple had been dating only a few months, Vitaliy’s parents and brother were killed in a car accident. Vitaliy returned to Ukraine to take care of his younger sister, and Candace decided to leave her last year of school to join him. When the time came to return to the United States, the couple made a big decision: “We decided we would adopt Vitaliy’s sister,” says Candace, “and we would go ahead and get married.”

Candace and Vitaliy started their marriage with a fifteen-year-old to care for. “It was the hardest time of our life,” says Candace, “but I really feel like it’s what strengthened our marriage.” And since their wedding, the couple has come up with ways to keep their marriage strong.

“Having an unhappy marriage is not an option,” explains Vitaliy. “So we have to make it work.” One of the ways they make it work is by having regular date nights. Candace adds, “And sometimes those date nights need to be maintenance nights, where we really check in with each other on how we’re doing in our marriage.”

The couple now runs a photography business together, with Candace joining full time late last year. Candace was a little worried about working so closely together, but has worked to find a balance between the roles of co-worker and wife. “Sometimes I need to be his wife, not his business partner. I have to ask myself, How can I love you today?”

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.
8 comments posted +add a comment SEE MORE: Snapshots

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.

 John and Phil met at a dance hall in downtown Dublin over fifty years ago, at a dance that neither of them quite intended to attend. Phil, in fact, had gone with her girlfriends to a different dance but hadn’t found any suitable boys to dance with and had boldly asked the doorman for her money back!

But the next dance Phil tried that evening was certainly worth the second try. John and Phil met during what was known as a Paul Jones dance, where the boys made a circle and the girls formed a circle inside facing the boys. When the music stopped, your next dance partner would be the person opposite you – but when the music stopped that night, Phil found herself between two boys. She looked at one, looked at the other, and then chose John as her dance partner.

A few years later, John and Phil put a down payment on a house and planned their wedding. Phil’s mother made the four-tiered wedding cake, and as is tradition in Ireland, all four tiers were fruit cake. John and Phil saved the top tier and to celebrate their first child’s christening.

John and Phil each share their advice for couples planning their weddings today. Phil explains, “We grew up together; it was a wonderful learning experience. We’re both very devoted to one another, which is particularly important when you’re rearing little ones, and even big ones. That you have someone who loves you deeply.” John’s key to marriage success? “Retain a certain amount of individuality and share it with your partner,” he says. “Retain the individuality that the other person admired in the first place.”

After seven children and forty-nine years, John and Phil are living in the same house they bought just before their wedding. Children and grandchildren come and go daily, and a rescue dog greets you at the door. Reflecting on their nearly fifty years married, John says, “Another 20 wouldn’t go amiss.”

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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