In August, my wife Charlotte and I will have been married thirty years. Now that seems unbelievable. In many respects, it seems like yesterday that we got married. Yet, it has been three decades. I want to reflect on this in several posts. I am going to do this in an interview format.
You and Charlotte will have been married thirty years in August. Talk about the early years.
I was from Dallas and had just graduated from the University of North Texas with a degree in business. I had moved to Florence, Alabama, to attend a small Bible college. I had no intention of being a minister or working with a congregation. This move reflected a need I felt in my spiritual journey. I went to this college after hearing the president of that college preach in our area one Sunday morning. I also knew a couple of people from the Dallas area who were going to school there.
I met Charlotte in Florence. She was from that area (her dad was the president of the college I just mentioned). At the time she was a student at Harding University. We dated and then married on August 11, 1978.
What do you remember about the first few years of marriage?
Like most people who get married, I had no idea what I was doing. I did know that I had married a wonderful young lady. Beyond that I had so much to learn. I do remember that we were both very, very busy during those early years. She and I were both finishing school in Florence. (She had transferred to the University of North Alabama.) We then moved to Pulaski, Tennessee, where I worked with a little storefront church. Charlotte taught kindergarten in a nearby elementary school while I was attempting to figure out what I was supposed to do as a young minister preaching for a church from week to week. We were just getting by financially but that seemed to be OK. We were there about a year when we began a move to Abilene, Texas. We lived in Abilene for three years (both of us were in graduate school at Abilene Christian University) then moved back to Florence.
What did you learn during those very early years of marriage?
1. I learned that all of us bring some kind of baggage to a marriage. What is in that baggage may be either positive or negative. Much of that depends upon your family of origin, your life’s experiences, and your beliefs/values. While I did bring a number of positives, I also brought a few negatives. Knowing how to communicate, how to resolve problems, and how to deal with conflict were real weaknesses. At the same time, my wife brought into our marriage a healthy way of handling conflict that put issues out in the open to be dealt with. Meanwhile, my style was avoidance and even withdrawal. Not good.
Unfortunately, like so many other people, I did not recognize this at the time. So, we had some issues to work through.
2. I learned in those early years that we could enjoy life, enjoy our surroundings and spend very little money wherever we lived. During those early years of marriage, we lived in Florence, Alabama; Pulaski, Tennessee; Dallas, Texas (6 months); and then Abilene, Texas. I can honestly say that we enjoyed each place we lived. Of course each place had pluses and minuses. Yet, we decided to enjoy life in these locations. Consequently, we spent many Saturdays exploring little towns, large cities, and other places of interest near our home.
However, in those early years, we were just getting by financially. There were no long trips or major purchases in those days. We rarely went out to eat. Yet, I can honestly say that we enjoyed life. That in part was due to a decision we both made to enjoy wherever we were.
More later. . .