How did you meet your spouse?
Our high school soccer coach announced that there was going to be a Swiss guy joining our co-ed team. We were all expecting a stereotypical European athlete. He was not. But we had sat together on bus rides and talked. When he told me he was Orthodox, my Protestant mind went straight to Orthodox Jew – I’d never heard of Orthodox Christians before. He was the only guy in school with facial hair.
Eventually I found out that he was an Orthodox Christian – I probably should have noticed the cross sooner! We had fantastic theological debates. This deepened our growing friendship.
How did you know this was the person you were going to marry?
In high school, I had this 2-week rule. Every two weeks, I would reflect on my relationships and decide if I was with him out of habit or if I really wanted him in my future. My goal in dating was always looking towards marriage. I didn’t tell any of my boyfriends.
Friendship led to group dates and then committed (courting style) boyfriend-girlfriend relationship. After a while, we became entwined in each other’s families and going to church events at his Orthodox Church and my Baptist Church. I knew I wouldn’t marry a man if we couldn’tt go to church together.
I knew I would marry him after taking the Introduction to Orthodox class and finding out how “compatible” it was with my own beliefs. It took some time to acclimate to the culture and language used to describe Orthodoxy** but once I learned to “speak Orthodox” the faith grew on me. I began to love it. I was Chrismated, and a few years later we were married.
**I’m referring to theological terms and common expressions, as well understanding the meanings of some of the rituals used by the faithful. ** The ethnic stuff is a different story.
The 2-week rule has become a joke between us. I eventually told him when we were engaged. But it was essential for me in building healthy relationships.
How do you find that marriage changes the ways you interact with the world?
I was independent from an early age. By the time I was a teen, I was expected to work, take care of anything school related, and self-regulate to a large extent. It was my responsibility to “figure it out”. I got myself jobs, put myself through college, and took care of myself. My boyfriend was always supportive, loving and encouraging, but I did these things for myself – I got the paperwork done and put in the years of multiple jobs and hours of classwork. I don’t mean to sound boastful, I’m trying to show my identity was my own. I stood on my own feet, and he stood beside me. If you knew me, you knew him because our lives were entwined.
We had the benefit of easing into marriage. We dated through high school and college before marrying. Everyone in our lives saw us as a unit before we married. We talked about plans, and goals, and dreams. I never felt a loss of self for being married.
I do feel that people treat me differently in our highly charged political atmosphere this year. Sometimes as a stay-at-home mom, people act like I’m subordinate to my husband. Like I lost my independence and what a shame for an educated woman to live like that. As a participant in a traditional marriage, somehow my choices and opinions aren’t trusted to be my own. Mostly it is funny to us. I am still the same stubborn woman. I still take care of all the same things, just multiplied into a household. So which is really easier?!?
But I also find it frustrating when family members seem to talk down to me. My present status as a wife overshadows my education, work, and mission experiences. And that’s too bad because I know they benefit my children. I am reaping the rewards of those decades of hard decisions.
What’s a favorite happy, sad, funny, or unique moment you can share from your love story?
We’re not hard-core hikers, but we enjoy day hikes and being in nature. Some of our cutest little memories have happened on trails in the woods. We always have our best conversations while we’re walking.
One of our favorite walking trails followed along a river. We were walking and joking and being silly. I was horsing around and pushed against him with my shoulder. He didn’t lose his footing, but he thought I was pushing him down the ravine into the frigid river! So now anytime a trail takes us along a steep drop, I give him a tiny nudge, and he makes a life insurance joke.
If someone about to get married asked you for advice, what would it be?
Take your time. If you are committed for the long road, then temper your relationship. We gave our friendship time to grow and that has kept us together through difficult times and years of sleep deprivation. You both need time to make sure that your beliefs are aligned and goals for lifestyles are compatible.
My 2-week rule, taking the time to reflect on what our relationship was really like and did I want this person in my future, helped me avoid some bad relationships as a teen. It helped me figure out what I wanted, and see it when I found it. I highly recommend systematic reflection of your relationship before marriage.