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!”
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