Through all of our reading this week, it caused me to take a good look at my own marriage of 12 years. My husband, Austin, and I met when we were very young. I was in 8th grade (13 yrs. old) and he was in 7th grade (12 years old). We rode the same middle school bus and were friends. I always looked at him more as the nice, younger, (kind of nerdy) neighbor boy across the street. Over the years, into high school, our paths began to cross more and more as we were involved in some of the same things– cross country and madrigal choir. Little did I know, he had had a crush on me allll of those years. It wasn’t until I was a senior in high school and he was a junior in high school, that we started to date. We always dated other people as well during that time. We definitely began to prefer each other the most. I graduated high school and he was still a senior in high school– we were both in two different worlds and that was hard on our relationship. We were both trying to thrive in our situations by dating other people, but in the back of our minds, we just wanted to be together.
Fast forward to my husband leaving on his 2 year missionary service for our church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I continued going to college at Brigham Young University, being an Especially for Youth Counselor, and dating during that time. I had a strong impression that I needed to serve a mission. I left on my mission 10 months after Austin had already been out. We barely dared to hope that maybe something would work out someday.. that we could possible get married after our missions. We both worked hard, wrote letters to each other, this brought us closer to one another and to the Lord.
Fun fact? He was in Brazil on his mission and I served in New England (Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont). Letters took FOREVER to get to each other. I was only allowed to hand write letters, and Austin could e-mail. SO, each week, I would write a letter to my parents and include an extra letter in there for Austin. My mom would then type my letter into an e-mail and send it to him over e-mail. Austin would type an e-mail to his parents every week and include an extra letter over e-mail to me along with it. His mom would print the extra e-mail for me and send it to me in the mail. This cut our communication time down by two weeks! So our moms read all of our letters to each other, I’m pretty sure they loved it!
(back to our story)
We became very close during our missions in a different way. We were doing the same thing. We were serving God’s children and putting our whole heart and soul into it. These letters brought us great joy, stronger friendship, and we became even closer together even though we were so very far away.
Austin came home 4 months before me. When I had two months left to serve on my mission, it was Mother’s Day. As missionaries, we were only allowed to call home on Mother’s Day and Christmas, so I called home and Austin “just happened” to be at my house. We hadn’t talked to each other in two whole years! As we talked, it was like not one day had gone by. What was supposed to be a 15 minute conversation turned into a 45 minute conversation. Completely unplanned and out of the blue, we ended up SETTING A DATE TO BE MARRIED during that conversation! It just felt right! The feeling was so strong for both of us! Family and friends were in complete awe and dismay! I had two months left on my mission after all! Those last two months on my mission ended up being the most successful months of my whole entire mission! We were married 6 weeks after I returned home from my mission. It was a whirlwind for sure!
As I read the required readings for my marriage class this week, I definitely scrutinized our relationship and nit picked all of the ways we can improve. But I found myself grateful for the friendship we have as it has laid a solid foundation for everything else. I specifically learned the importance of friendship when learning about the Gottman “love mapping”, etc. Our history has proven priceless in our marriage journey. Meeting and falling love at such a young age was ludicrous to many, but I am very grateful that we kind of grew up together. The time on our missions along with the communication between us was a great blessing. We became spiritually closer. We were able to motivate and care for each other through letters with no physical affection which forged stronger ties. The last 12 years have not been perfect by any means. Oh man, have we struggled at times. But I know we are in it for the long haul and there is no one else I would rather have by my side through thick and thin.
Here is an article from the Gottman Institute that I loved studying this week for my marriage class. May you be blessed in your marriage to weather any of the storms that come your way.
From the above reading, we are especially trying to work on making sure we have 5 positive interactions for every 1 negative interaction (read the quote below)
“Negative interactions during conflict include being emotionally dismissive or critical, or becoming defensive. Body language such as eye-rolling can be a powerful negative interaction, and it is important to remember that negativity holds a great deal of emotional power, which is why it takes five positive interactions to overcome any one negative interaction. And these negative interactions happen in healthy marriages, too, but they are quickly repaired and replaced with validation and empathy.”