The Sterns: Secrets to a Happy Marriage

MPP Note: I am currently honeymooning in Mexico! This is a scheduled guest post by the Sterns for my Marriage Guest Series, while I am away. What a sweet family she has! :) If you are a new visitor, welcome! Comments will be moderated when I return on 4/19. Enjoy!

My husband, Part-Time Lieutenant Wonderful (or LT W for short) and I met when I was 16 and he was 21.  He was my counselor at a church camp a couple of hours outside of Seattle.  We were long distance friends for a year and a half before he told me that he wanted for us to start dating after I graduated from High School and he finished college.  I was torn; I really really liked him, but I didn’t want to go away to college committed.  But since I liked him so much, I decided to compromise a bit.  We could date for the summer as long as he understood that we were going to break up at the end of the summer.  He agreed to my conditions, but told me that no matter what, he would wait for me.  He was certain that we were meant to be together.  Four weeks into the summer, I changed my mind.  Nine months later we had tired of the distance (3000 miles) and he proposed.  We endured the distance for another excruciating nine months and in December of 2003 we were married (and since I was 19 I dubbed myself the Child Bride :))

I was a very laid back bride-to-be.  Since I already had the perfect man, after I found my dress and my photographer I was good to go.  We had planned on getting married at my home church and because was a lot of significance there for me.  We met because of church camp, I had been baptized in this church and my family and close friends were very involved there.  It was like a second home.  Also, the building was a beautifully restored historic site and I couldn’t wait to promise forever to my love in a place so gorgeous and significant to me.

About six weeks prior to our wedding, there had been a minor earthquake in our area.  As with all historic buildings, a team had to come in and check the integrity of the foundation for insurance purposes.  This just so happened to occur the day before our wedding.  My dad’s good friend was in charge of the process and he is also a master of practical jokes.  When my dad got a call from his dear friend saying that the church had to be condemned due to 5 of the 7 support beams being completely broken, he were sure this was another joke.

It was not.

We were about 18 hours out from my beautiful Christmas wedding, and suddenly we didn’t have a venue.  I was picking up friends from the airport with LT W, so I was blissfully ignorant of the near disaster.  Graciously, my family scrambled to find a solution before they told me about the problem. Fortunately, another local church heard about what happened and graciously offered up their location, free of charge.  Their sanctuary was already beautifully decorated and we simply added a few of our own decorations for the finishing touches.

When I look back at that crazy, beautiful day, what I remember most about my wedding isn’t the catastrophe that could have been. What I remember most is the sacrificial love of our family and friends.  I remember friends calling in sick to help out with the venue change.  I remember others just showing up to help out because they loved us and wanted to ease our burden.  I remember my god parents (who are teachers) calling substitutes in the middle of the day so that they could get the new church looking just right.  I remember all these people coming out of the woodwork to help make phone calls and handle last minute details and keep guests up to date on the location change.  And I remember LT Wonderful pulling me aside to remind me that it didn’t matter where the wedding was taking place, it only mattered that we were together.   Looking back, it was crazy and nearly out of control!  Honestly though, I wouldn’t want it any other way.  The wedding itself wasn’t the most important thing. What was most important was celebrating our love among the people that are closest to us.

Now, seven years and several deployments, moves across country, and two children later, I can honestly say that the most important things haven’t changed.  We still try and make our relationship the top priority.  It’s been hard, particularly so this past year.  But relationships are fluid, living things.  If we don’t get it right today we get up tomorrow and work to fix it.  Amazingly, when we put each other’s needs first rather than forcing the other person to meet our needs, we each end up getting all our needs met.  On paper the math doesn’t work out, but in life it always seems to.

So that’s our secret.  Put your partner first, always. Love is a choice, and sometimes you have to choose to act lovingly even if you don’t feel like it.  Especially if you don’t feel like it.

Relationships are hard work, but the rewards are priceless!

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  • Such a sweet story! I agree with your secret of putting your partner first, always. Also, another personal motto that I have is never talk down your partner to friends or family. I have a few friends that always air the fights they have, the annoying things their husbands/boyfriends do, or a mistake they made. I hate these conversations and won’t participate in them. To me, my husband is my rock and I am so proud of him – why would I say something negative about him – and for what purpose? To be entertaining or to be conversational? I don’t get it.