Marriage is a topic on my mind often. Whether working to make our marriage better or praying for our four adult children’s marriages or chatting with a friend about the joys and challenges of marriage, I find myself on this topic often. First, let me say up front, I’m not an expert on marriage, but I am experienced. 🙂 Doug and I have been married for nearly 31 years. We have experienced the wonderful seasons where we were on top of the world taking in the views from the highest mountain peaks. We have also experienced the lowest valleys we could have experienced in a marriage and still emerged out of them with the rings on our fingers and the promise in our hearts. We have walked through many stages of life together: newlyweds, new parents, parents of four babies under three years old, toddler years, school days, teenage years, college and career years, empty nest, and now GiGi and Poppy. Each of those ages and stages brought a different set of joys and challenges to our marriage. So while I’m not an expert and will never claim to be, I have lived a gamut of experiences in my married life.
♥ The Beginning of Our story ♥
I never tire of telling our love story for it truly is a story of a marriage made in heaven by our One True God. Doug and I met at church when we were in early elementary school. I was in first grade. He was in second grade. By fourth and fifth grade, we were ‘going together’ and holding hands under the hymnal or church Bible. (I don’t advocate that for children, but we did. 🙂 However, it truly was innocent.) We were best of friends. We talked all the time. We liked spending time together. Our sisters were friends. Our parents were friends. We went to the same church. We went to the same school. We lived down the road from each other. We rode the same bus. In other words, we were able to spend a lot of time together. We knew each other. If anyone asked me at the early age of 10 or 11 who I was going to marry, I could have instantly told them, “Dougie!”
In middle school, we would ‘like’ each other off and on. However, being middle schoolers, we also liked other people, too. We remained close friends, but we were becoming two very different people. Then, one awful day in high school I learned that Dougie would be moving to Texas. I was a freshman, and he was a sophomore at the time. There was no warning. They were moving, and there was nothing I could do. That was a very sad day in my life.
I went on living, of course. I liked other boys. I know he liked and dated other girls. Then, in December on my sixteenth birthday, I was at a BC basketball game with some friends. One of my best friends came running down the bleachers toward me yelling, “Cindy…Dougie is here. Doug is looking for you!” I thought she was just messing with me. After all, he had moved more than a year before. Why would he be there?
I looked up and THERE HE WAS…as handsome as ever…walking toward me. I’m sure my heart stopped beating for just a moment. I’m also sure there was a smile as big as Texas on my face. What a wonderful birthday present! Well, we dated for about a month and then, he just disappeared. I tell him often that he was quite the jerk! I was so hurt! My heart was completely broken. I questioned why God had brought him back into my life (which I truly believed then that he had and I still believe NOW that he had) just to rip him out of it.
Again, life went on. I dated again. This time with the determination that D.F. would never hurt me again. I would give my love to someone else. I enjoyed the rest of my junior year of high school and began my senior year. I was working and enjoying my first job at Otto Drugstore.
One late summer day in September I was working the cash register up front when my sister called me. She was at Doug’s sister’s house. She said that he wanted me to come there when I got off work. I said, “NO way!” Later, he called. He was persistent. I told him that he had hurt me enough and that I would not come there to see him. If he wanted to see me, he’d have to come to Shepherdsville. I told him what time I was leaving work fully expecting to NOT see him. To my surprise and hesitant delight, he was there waiting when I went to my car. (Insert sweet sigh, googly lovey dovey eyes, and a heart about to beat out of my chest!) That was September 6, 1987.
We went on our first official date that day. He wonders why I love Mr. Gatti’s so much. That is part of the reason, I would guess. We sat at Mr. Gatti’s for hours that day. We talked. He apologized profusely. We talked some more. It was that day, sitting in the party room of Mr. Gatti’s all by ourselves, with Doug writing sweet stuff on a helium balloon, that I fell head over heals completely in love with him. Oh, I already loved him, but that day sealed the deal.
On March 15 of the next year, Doug proposed. We had plans to wait 5 years to get married. I would finish college. He would finish trade school. However, we knew we could not wait 5 years to be husband and wife. So, we set the date. August 5, 1989. I still laugh when I think about it. We were just being silly thinking we would wait that long. We had literally been waiting our whole lives for this. In May, we went to my parents and told them we couldn’t wait a year to be married. After much discussion, it was decided the date would be changed to August 6 of the same year. There was ONE stipulation. I couldn’t say the word wedding until high school graduation was over. (I was graduating valedictorian. My parents were not going to allow anything to get in the way of me finishing what I had started. I am very thankful for that.) I graduated in May, and we planned the wedding in less than 2 months.
As I think back over the story of our life up to that point, I smile…I laugh…I even get a bit teary eyed at times. When I think of how God orchestrated two separate families…two separate lives…so that Doug and I would be placed together for His glory and our good, it amazes me. You see, none of that story is my doing or Doug’s doing. We couldn’t have come up with such an outlandish on again/off again thing if we tried. I mean, honestly…Doug’s family up and moved to TEXAS!!! What I failed to mention above was that while he was visiting friends in Kentucky, his family decided to move back to Kentucky without telling him. Add to that, God had to have acted upon my heart to soften it to let Doug back into my life after being hurt. As humans, we tend to build up scar tissue that isn’t easily broken through when we’re hurt by someone. God had to place me on Doug’s mind for him to decide he wanted to see me after more than a year of being away. And to think it all started when we were small children.
Our lives changed on August 6, 1988. We were no longer just Cindy and Doug. We became Mr. and Mrs.! What a wonderful change!
Stay tuned for more of the story!