On Sunday Terri and I celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary (well, we celebrated on Saturday, but the date was Sunday, April 24th). Some of our children have asked about how we got to know each other, and how we have been able to create a loving relationship that has lasted for 40 years and counting. So, here we go:
Terri and I first met on my mission to Pennsylvania. Terri’s parents often had the Elders over to dinner, and during those visits I met Terri (Terri was going to school at BYU, so I only met her 3 times during my mission: Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter). The last time I saw Terri we had a very long and interesting gospel conversation in her living room. I was impressed. It was the first time I had found a girl that had as much knowledge about the scriptures and gospel doctrine as I had!
After returning home from my mission I went to BYU for 1 and 1/2 semesters (BYU has a 1/2 semester for returning missionaries). During that time I met Terri, we dated, fell in love, and we married just after she graduated with a degree in Microbiology. We spent our honeymoon in Israel with my extended family. One of the turning points for me was our continued love of discussing gospel doctrine. Terri continued to surprise me with her knowledge of the scriptures and of even the most difficult doctrine. She was truly my equal!
Before getting married Terri and I talked a lot about what we expected from each other in marriage, the roles we each would play, and what our future goals were. Here are some things that came from those discussions that effected our entire marriage and brought us to where we are today:
- We intended to get married in the Temple. That meant that we had to be worthy to enter the Temple: we had to keep the 10 commandments, and live with honesty and integrity.
- We would both be virgins when we got married–we would not have to worry about any sexual ‘history’, disease, or relationship problems. Coming from the 60’s generation of ‘free love’ and the sexual revolution, this was not necessarily easy (and it seems to be getting more and more difficult with each generation). But I think it makes a difference in creating a long-term loving relationship.
- We wanted to plan our life so that, sometime in the future we could go on a mission together as a couple. This meant several things: 1) we would have our children early and quickly so that we would be young enough, and healthy enough, to serve a mission when we were older. 2) It also meant that we would need to be wise financially–we had to prepare so that we would have the financial resources available to serve a mission together. This meant not going into unwise debt, paying off our house quickly, etc.
- As any children we would have would come quickly, and close together (we had 5 children in 7 years) Terri agreed to stay at home with the children while I worked. We believed at the time (and was counseled by the Prophets) that it was imported for one parent to stay home with the children. As we lived our lives (and eventually changed roles) we came to realize just how important this decision was! Running a home and raising children is a full-time job for a parent–just as important and difficult as the parent working to support the family. I expressed many times to Terri how comforting it was for me to know that she was at home while I worked. Time and again things come up in life–both the mundane and serious–that are almost impossible to deal with without someone at home. A child is sick, forgets their lunch, gets in trouble at school; a car breaks down, things break at home and need fixed, someone gets in an accident or has a long-term illness…the list can and does go on and on. And in each case, because there is someone at home tending to all these issues, it frees the person responsible to earn a living to be able to concentrate on their work, achieve greater success and income, and bring needed income and resources to and for the family. Day after day, week after week, year after year, I was grateful to have that partner at home backing me up and doing things I simply could not do.
- Staying at home does not mean you do not grow. Although Terri stayed home with the children, that did not mean that she sat in front of the TV and watched soap operas and ate Bon Bons! The list of challenges she met and overcame is impressive, and added to our family in ways that cannot be numbered or measured. Here is just a small list: 1) she became acquainted with computers–we owned one of the first computers, which she learned to use AND to program. In fact, she got to the point where she built her own computer. Even today if there is anyone having computer problems of any kind, it is Terri they turn to for help! 2) She learned to build. Beginning with finishing our concrete basement in Connecticut, Terri moved on to building a garage, then a Sun-room, and after moving to Utah, built an entire 3,600 SF house! She became proficient in electrical wiring, plumbing, heating, framing, soldering copper piping, etc. Even today when family have building problems or issues they can turn to Terri for answers! 3) She did all the normal domestic things for the home: quilts, sewing, counted-cross (we have many beautiful counted-cross pictures framed on the walls of our home), cooking (she is a gourmet cook), etc. 4) Over time Terri also continued her first love: medicine. Although she only practiced as a Med-Tech (using her Microbiology degree) for a short time, she continued to work on and off in the medical field as time and circumstance would allow. She worked on an ambulance, in doctor’s offices, and spent several years working from home doing medical transcription. Using her unique blend of medical knowledge and computer skills, she was called upon to aid medical offices to upgrade and use new computer systems or medical programs. As I mentioned, the list could and does go on and on!
- We agreed that if the time came that Terri w anted to start or expand her career, I would support her. In essence, we would trade places, and I would stay at home and she would go to work. Well, that time came. After our children were grown and out of college Terri wanted to go back to school to become a PA. This just happened to be in line with our other goal–going on a mission together–as we both felt it would enhance our abilities to serve the Lord. So we did the switch: I quit my job at American Roofing and Terri and I moved back to Connecticut so she could go to graduate school and become a PA. While Terri spent her time at school, I found work and also spent some time writing books. Part of the covenant you make when getting married is to support one another. Terri supported me by staying home with the children and doing all those things that enhanced our living conditions. It was my turn to support her in her desires while she went to school to become a PA, and then support her at home while she worked. Interesting as it might sound, it was only after we switched roles that Terri truly came to understand how important having someone at home backing you up really was. When she was at work and problems would come up–the same ones that always come up–that would have put great pressure on her, or on us if we both worked, they simply became minor inconveniences because I could take care of them. That meant that when she came home from work she did not have to do anything but rest: all the problems had already been taken care of, dinner was cooked, and she could just relax and enjoy the evening. It was those moments–coming home from a hard day and realizing that, in spite of all the daily problems that occur in our lives, she was done! She did not have to worry about all the other issues of life–they were being taken care of by me (that was my job). She could concentrate on her work and her career and leave the rest to me. Eventually Terri went on to get her PHD in Global Health and was able to serve in numerous under-served areas of the world.
- The time finally came when we were ready to serve a mission together. Because of our long-term goal, we were prepared and ready–spiritually, financially, and our talents blended well together to meet the challenges of the missions we served. For example: 1) We served in the Utah State Prison teaching ESL and job skills to the inmates. Because both Terri and I had graduated college, we were able to fulfill this calling with ease. 2) We served two missions with LDS Charities aboard the USNS Mercy–a hospital ship that traveled around Asia giving aid and comfort to those less fortunate. Only qualified people were permitted to go on these missions (the vetting process was tough and very strict). But with Terri’s medical background, and my construction background, we were a perfect fit for these missions. 3) We served in the Congo. Terri was called as the Mission Medical Adviser and I served by working with mission apartments and aiding the Church with buildings they were constructing there. 4) We currently serve in the West Indies–again, Terri being called to serve as Mission Medical Adviser for two missions (the Barbados and Trinidad missions), while I serve as MLS.
- I believe that Terri and I created a loving, long-term relationship in large part because we followed the counsel of the Prophets: setting righteous goals of keeping morally clean before marriage, being married in the Temple, and continuing to live those righteous covenants after marriage. Our marriage has endured because we have always been honest with each other, and fulfilled the goals and promises made to each other before we were married. Terri did what she said she would do: she gave up her career and stayed home with the children. She then magnified that sacred calling by doing all the other things that enhanced our lives and blessed our family. I also did what I promised to do: I worked hard and supported my family. I spent time and effort to improve myself so that I could earn more and make our lives better. When the time came to reverse roles, I lived up to my promise and quit my job and moved to Connecticut so that Terri could go to school. We both kept our promise to prepare to go on a mission together by having children early, by being frugal–staying out of debt and paying off our mortgage, and be remaining Temple worthy so we could be called to serve the Lord.
- Living a righteous life and setting these types of goals is not easy…but it is rewarding! We have shared experiences that neither one of us could have ever imagined when we began this journey. I am so blessed to have found a woman willing to live a righteous life, to work hard and sacrifice for the Lord, and willing to do the hard things required to grow in the way the Lord would have us grow–in faith with an eye towards God. I truly have no regrets. If I had it to do all over, I would choose the same woman, I would choose the same life and experiences. They have been (and will continue to be) beyond my wildest dreams.
On the causeway bridge on St Martin is a heart that lovers can use to seal or ‘lock’ their love together. Terri and I placed our lock on the heart to commemorate our 40 years together!
Here is a close-up of the heart and our special lock!
One last thing I thought I would share. After getting engaged to Terri I wrote a poem for her. It is just as true now as it was then!
As I searched the earth for a flower for my Garden,
I walked past the neatly kept rows of roses;
past the pots, plants, and bushes
that would have filled my Garden to excess;
and into the open field behind the Gardener’s gardens.
It was there I found the wildflower.
She grew by a path less traveled,
and the depth of her color
made her stand our from among all of the other plants
that were able to endure the heat of the day.
I remember the first time I touched the soft petals;
so exquisite in their softness,
so finely detailed…
and I found no thorns to mar its beauty,
or interrupt the experience with pain.
So I planted it in my Garden,
and gave it room to grow.
I did not have to tend it with such care
as I would have had to tend the others;
I only gave it the freedom to grow unfettered,
and then enjoyed the growing.
Now, as I walk in my Garden in the evening
my eyes always go to the one special place;
for not only has my wildflower kept its bloom,
but it has filled my garden
with wildflowers of all colors.
When I sought a flower for my Garden,
I walked the paths less traveled;
and I chose a flower that endured,
and gave me beauty for a lifetime.