Inspired by the wisdom gathered from my husband’s grandparents as they celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary (check it out here), I decided to interview several couples whose marriages inspire me. Not because they have perfect marriages, because no one does. But through love, commitment and hard work, they’ve built something beautiful. Something inspiring. Something worth sharing.
Hometown: Campbell, NY
Wedding Date: November 23, 1985
Family: 3 Adopted Children, Nicholas (9), Nathan (8) and Madalyn (7)
What has been the most challenging part of marriage?
The most challenging part of our married life has most definitely been the emotional pain of infertility. We both have always had a love for children and for many years our love for them went in many different directions including friend’s kids, nieces & nephews, basically anyone who would just let us “take” their children for a weekend or day. That helped fill our lives and gave us lots of smiles but never took away the void we felt and the longing we had for children. We basically had 15 years of struggling through Christmas, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and never realizing why God wouldn’t let us have children. It was easier to pretend it didn’t matter and that we loved our life without kids than it was to admit how much we still hurt inside.
Because of that, it was easier to avoid church or other activities that might be painful and open up our hearts. It was easier to avoid them! One of our hardest conversations was with my father who so badly wanted us to go to church. I poured my heart out to him that if God didn’t want us to have kids then why did we have that constant longing and desire for them. If God didn’t want us to have kids then TAKE the desire away! Through lots of prayers, we did finally get peace and went another 5 years before our phone rang and our world was turned upside down.
Nearly overnight, our family multiplied by 3 and we were blessed all at once with siblings, Nicholas (26 months), Nathan (13 months), and Madalyn (newborn). They continue to rock our world and we fall in love with them more and more through each challenge and day.
You are in the family-raising stage of marriage. What advice do you have for couples in this stage?
We both feel that marriage for the most part has come very easy. Of course we’ve had up’s & down’s, but usually the down’s are just a reminder that we weren’t spending enough quality time together. We have always been very proactive for date nights. Even before kids, and we continue to be proactive now. Our date nights have including learning to ballroom dance (not that we can do that now, lol), to our favorite picnic area in the cemetery. Yes, the cemetery. No one is there walking around there like the park! Most of our best dates have cost us nothing! This would be my advice to other couples who are smack dab in the middle of raising children.
We went away for our 25th anniversary and for the first time, left our children for 4 days. Someone said, ‘I can’t believe you left your kids that long.” Even though that might have been a slam (because they might not have left their kids) to us it didn’t matter. Our kids LOVED being with the family that kept them and we enjoyed those days reminiscing and celebrating the love we feel so blessed to have. I think kids enjoy time away too, getting spoiled and doing fun things with people who love them. In no way does it mean you are a less of parent or love your kids less because you choose to spend time as a couple. We believe God’s design for marriage is to put Him first, our spouse second, and our kids are the blessing that follows.
Well, we think the best is yet to come! Life is hard in this busy, chaotic, fast-paced world we live in. However, if couples want to reap the harvest and celebrate the golden years then we feel it’s important to stay focused on what God’s design for marriage is and to continue to be proactive and consistent in our marriage and raising our family.
It has been so helpful in our marriage and parenting to have friends & mentors like Todd & Helen. My advice…find a couple, just a stage or so ahead of you, whose marriage and parenting you admire. Then, spend time with them. Watch them. There is such hope and wisdom to be found. Thank you, Todd & Helen, for being a source of hope and wisdom for us!
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