This is part two of a mini interview series the team at PREPARE/ENRICH conducted during the month of May to celebrate anniversaries with couples like you.
As we approach the month of June, wedding season is upon us. With weddings come anniversaries – many, many anniversaries. Relationships are our priority here at P/E and we wanted to highlight the lives of some of our couples as they reach milestones in their relationships. We have found that couples at all stages in their relationships have unique stories and great advice that we believe every couple could benefit from indulging in. Take a few minutes out of your day to share in the laughs, well-rounded advice, and insights from our P/E family.
Introducing Laura and Darek
2. What was it about each other that merited a second date?
Darek: She would let me have a second date! I was genuinely surprised I got a second date.
Laura: He asked! I did not want to even go on the first date! I did not like him. But he was funny and took me to a nice place so I thought, why not?
3. What was your premarital counseling experience?
Darek: We worked with my childhood pastor and worked through a premarital counseling book that had a workbook with it. We would read the book together and then answer the questions in the workbook separately. We would then e-mail our responses to my pastor and he would e-mail or call us with responses and homework and scriptures to read through.
4. What role has commitment played in your marriage?
Darek: I never saw it as optional. Everyone gets more creative with problem solving when you realize you have to solve the problem.
Laura: Big role! When I married him I made a decision to be committed to him for the rest of our lives. I don’t take it lightly. He is the one for me and I will be committed to him no matter what.
5. How do you keep the “spark” alive?
Darek: I try and surprise her with things often. When I hear her say something she wants, then I wait a month or so and then surprise her with it.
Laura: I try and do things he likes to do. That may seem logical but I don’t always like to. So sometimes I will surprise him and let him choose the movie we watch, let him choose where we go to dinner or just flat out say “tonight we are doing what you want.” And I also try and tell him how much I appreciate him when he does jobs around the house and how proud I am to be his wife. That really makes him feel good and I like to see that he is happy and confident. I also kiss him goodbye every morning and every day when he comes home.
6. What is the best part about marriage?
Darek: Ordering two meals at a restaurant and then sharing them. And she laughs at my dumb jokes frequently, others do not.
Laura: The best part for me is that I have my best friend by my side. I know that I always have someone on my team, supporting me, and someone who will never leave me and always keep me safe. And no matter how bad my day is he always makes it better.
7. How have you navigated personality differences?
Darek: Still trying to navigate. I have moved towards her way of things and she has moved towards my way. We try and find the middle ground. When we can’t, someone bends.
Laura: This one has been hard! There has been lots of fighting and frustration. It has taken lots of patience and conversations where he flat out says “you have to write everything down on a list” and I have to say “assume I want it this way every time.” One problem has been he is very laid back and gets to things when he wants to and I am a very prompt person and wants things done immediately. So we have had to learn to be more relaxed/prompt for the other person, and make lists of what needs to get done and what is the biggest priority.
8. What is your advice for handling conflict?
Darek: Apologize profusely and get an understanding wife – that usually helps! Stay open to the possibility that your wrong and not always right.
Laura: It’s ok to fight. Some people shy away from fighting but this just leads to holding it in and getting bitter. We fight and let everything out even if it gets a little loud (although we try and never fight in front of our daughter). Then we give each other space. I will usually go to my room or do jobs around the house and he usually reads or does jobs around the house. Then when we are calm one of us starts the conversation. We start by apologizing and saying “I love you” and then we talk through the conflict. So it’s ok to fight, but never go to bed angry. Always discuss the conflict before you go to bed.
9. What was one thing you weren’t expecting about marriage?
Darek: I was surprised by how big of role in-laws had in our lives. I didn’t think we would be spending so much time with them.
Laura: I was not expecting how much I would rely on him. Sometimes it makes me mad that now I rely on him for every little decision. I always want to know his opinion on things. I was also not expecting all of the hardships that would come our way. For us that meant financial difficulty, trouble with in-laws, taking in his sister and her child, etc. It has put more strain and pressure on our marriage than I was expecting.
10. If you could go back in time and tell your engaged-self something about marriage, what would it be?
Darek: To always put my wife first even when you have to put in extra effort. Priorities can get out of order really quick.
Laura: Be patient, you are not always right, respect and choose him no matter what, and stop being so stubborn and assuming he can read your mind!