Here at Big Spring Farm, we really want to be about helping marriages grow and flourish. In our industry, it can be easy to get distracted by the beautiful, flawless images (which we love) and the just perfect plans we need to carry out and lose sight of the monumental commitment that each couple makes here at the farm, in our very midst. We say it all the time, but we are truly honored to get to witness and be a part of the most sacred and important commitment our couples will ever make. That’s why we want to make your day the best that it can be and help you make your marriage the best that it can be too.
Lately, when I’m attending a wedding, witnessing two friends speak their marriage vows, I find myself not thinking of them, but of all the couples ahead of us, who have made it through some really hard things, and seen some really beautiful things. I find myself wondering, “Did they ever think this would be their story? When they said richer or poorer, did they think that poor? That rich? That sick?”
Not long ago, someone explained to me that in order to be “wise beyond your years” you must listen to people who have done it before; listen to older, wiser counsel. It’s only then that you can claim wisdom beyond your age.
So, let’s be wise beyond our years in marriage. Let’s listen to those who have walked ahead of us. Those who have struggled with the things we’re struggling with now.
In honor of their 40th anniversary (!!!), we have a very dear- to- my- heart couple to share with you today, my Mama and Daddy. They’ve taught me what it means to sacrifice, to forgive, and to seek the Lord in Marriage.
How long have you been married?
40 Years (5/27!)
Do you have kids? Grandkids? If so, how many?
3 children and 2 grandchildren
Tell us your love story!
We met in 1974 when I was a senior at Meredith College. Stuart had recently graduated from N.C. State University and had gotten his first job with Burlington Industries in Wake Forest. A mutual friend wanted us to meet. She invited him to our campus for dinner and then asked me to go eat with him saying she had “forgotten” she had agreed to go out with her roommates. We had dinner together in my college cafeteria and then walked around campus chatting and getting to know one another. We hit it off and began dating regularly. I graduated in May and left Raleigh to go home to Charlotte, NC. For the next 3 years, we dated long distance while we sorted through the ends and outs of post-college life and seeking careers.
These dating years were hard. Things were going well, but with so much unknown with our jobs, it was difficult to know where the relationship was going. He very much wanted a steady job before we moved forward in our relationship and had a very practical approach toward marriage. Just when I was beginning to wonder if this was a forever relationship, he surprised me at the Top of the Tower in Charlotte, with a wedding proposal. We were married May 27th, 1978.
What’s your favorite memory from your wedding day?
That we included our parents as part of our vows. They were given the opportunity to give us a blessing and each promised to love and encourage us in our marriage. My father in law shared scripture from Micah 6:8, “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” My dad shared “May your marriage be Christ-Centered” which is now on a plague in our home. Going into marriage, we knew that we needed to rely on one another and face our problems together rather than going elsewhere, such as our parents. This was a big deal to me and the idea of leaving and cleaving didn’t come easy, which is why we asked them to publically share their blessings.
What have been some struggles in your marriage?
Struggles have varied throughout our 40 years. Our first years, we struggled with infertility and the disappointment that caused. Later, when we were blessed with the adoption of our 2 sons and the biological birth of our daughter, our struggles were with financially taking care of them while I found ways to stay home with them and bring in some income. Later struggles came with balancing our schedules with all the children’s activities, while finding time for family time and time for us as a couple as well as concerns about our children during their teenage years, and then for both of our sons as they served in the military. Now, in these later years, we are enjoying the fruits of our labor! Our present challenge, not struggle, is preparing for retirement for my husband and for me, already retired, finding what God wants me to do with my time. I would have to say each and every struggle has been overcome through prayer and our deep faith. Fortunately for us, our commonality is our faith. No matter what is happening we know where to go to get grounded and renewed. We also had tremendous support from our church family over the years. Their support cannot be measured.
What encouragement would you offer someone experiencing a similar struggle?
First, these moments will not last forever. I never thought that I would get past the misery of infertility, but I did. When I finally came down to the realization that I couldn’t have a child I was able to let go, but I was not able to let go of wanting a family, so we pursued adoption. I do believe in hindsight, that our boys were meant for us and that in order for that to occur, we had to remain childless. Secondly, keep your focus on looking “up” and “out”. Get your eyes off yourself. Look at God first and then look out for what you can do for others. Finally, give thanks in all circumstances. I remember trying to give thanks when I couldn’t get pregnant but it was so hard. I remember telling the Lord, “I’m trying to give thanks but it still hurts.” Even then, when everything is hard, life is still good.
What have been some great joys of your marriage?
I would have to say our children and grandchildren bring us such indescribable joy! Not only the adoption of our sons, but God surprised us with the biological birth of our daughter. Now, we are loving being grandparents! I would also say we have found joy in the blessings God has bestowed on us and how he has worked in both of us as our marriage has evolved. We had to really lean on one another during our infertility and when our boys were overseas. These experiences have really made our relationship stronger.
What is one surprising thing that marriage has taught you?
To spend more time praying, asking God to change me, and turning me into the woman he wants me to be instead of trying to change my husband!
What advice would you tell your younger self?
Live in thankfulness. Relax, enjoy each day and do less instead of more. Spend less time comparing yourself to other couples and to other parents. All that comparing and keeping up with each other that goes on, is junk, don’t let it keep one moment of sleep away from you. What really matters is that you are raising your family and working in your marriage the best way you know how. Everyone has to make their own way. Spend more time making sweet memories!