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.