Wendy and Rick

marriage-couple

Wendy

I had been attending our home church for several years with my girlfriend. So, I was attending before Rick and I started dating. I was so impressed with this church — it wasn’t traditional, but after a couple years I fell away and I stopped going.

A couple years later I met Rick and we began dating, I discovered his sister was attending the same church. I thought about returning to church. I wanted to share the experience with Rick.

Rick

Before that, I wasn’t going to church. Although I grew up with a church background and attended parochial schools, I stopped going to church when I turned 15. My sister invited both of us back to church; we thought it would be great to get involved again. I thought, “Let’s go see what it’s all about.” When I walked in the door I thought, “Wow, this is a big church!” I was in awe. Great music too.

I still remember the sermon series: “Truths That Transform.”

Wendy

My spiritual background as a child was Jehovah Witness, Rick was brought up in a Catholic home.. I was confused about Jesus, and the “Holy Spirit thing” God was the furthest thing from our minds. But we were sick of living the lives we were living, always partying and drinking. We knew something was missing.

Rick

Without a doubt, we did not really know God. We didn’t even pray.

Wendy

About four months later we signed-on for a basic Christianity class at our church. It was an open and honest Q&A about Christianity. We knew it was a good place to start. We learned about God and grace and how to have a personal relationship with Him. We joined a small group. This was a group designed for people who were investigating Christianity. We really connected with the people in the group. We talked about the “God thing” — Who Jesus is, what God wants from us, how to have a relationship with Him and we did a one-year bible study.

Rick

My key question was: “Who is Jesus?” Why did he die for me? What is His purpose? In that group I discovered who Jesus is and what he means to me. It was pretty much black and white, but I needed to find the answers and get pointed in the right direction. That was my barrier, finding the right direction.

Up until that point my spiritual life was just about church attendance. I was just “there”. I realized now I was missing that personal relationship with God, having Him in my heart. Despite that missing piece, my childhood church background did provide a valuable foundation.

Wendy

Rick and I discussed Christianity a lot. We were facing a big decision.

On June 9th 2000 we prayed together to receive Christ in our lives. That is a great memory and a very significant date in our lives.

At this point we were engaged and dating three years. We requested information from our church on reserving a wedding date.

The church mailed us a huge package — surveys, questions and an assessment tool [Prepare]. It was overwhelming. I remember thinking, “Why can’t the church just take our word for it — we’re in love!”

Our friends and family didn’t go through this. Most didn’t even attend the church they were married in.

The marriage process was very demanding. In addition to all the paperwork, we were required to attend a six week marriage seminar, a financial workshop and partner with a mentoring couple.

Rick

We learned a lot about communication. I found myself looking in to Wendy’s eyes more when we talked. We learned a lot about ourselves — love languages, conflict resolution, sex… I learned Wendy is more of an “affirmation/words” person and I’m more “touch-feely”. We learned more about how different we are and what our needs are. It was clear that most people blindly get married without thinking about or discussing these things. That’s where problems arise in young marriages. Several times I found myself saying about Wendy, “Well, I didn’t know that about you…!”

Wendy

At the marriage seminar, each week we sat with the same four couples. We hit it off immediately with the group and even prayed together the first night. It was a lot like a like a small group. It was a big commitment, every Friday night, four hours for six weeks. But it was worth it.

Rick

We looked at it as our weekly ‘date night’.

Wendy

Our church partnered us with a mentor couple to help us work through such areas as communications, sexual purity, our spiritual condition and conflict resolution. We’d also have a chance to review the Prepare assessment we had completed. The commitment was five sessions, about ten hours.

I felt we were in pretty good shape on all the areas except two — we were not sexually pure and we were living together. Well, at least we had three out of five! We were freaking out, we knew we’d get busted! We needed to change our living arrangements and commit to purity.

They challenged us on sexual purity the second week. That session caused us to discuss purity more in depth. We read a book, “Intimate Deception”, which provided some biblical and practical perspectives on purity… Excellent!

That next week we committed to purity. We knew sex was wrong, but it was largely a ‘faith thing’ too. We trusted in God and the discernment and leadership of our mentor couple.

On our mentor couples recommendation, we moved up the wedding date [we had planned a date a whole year away]. An earlier date would help us keep the purity commitment.

The next week our mentor couple challenged us with our living arrangements. That was really hard. We loved living together. We had built a home and loved sitting on the couch together, cooking, watching television.

Rick

We had adapted to that routine of coming home after work, eating dinner and going to bed. We were accustomed to that.

Wendy

We talked about who should move out. I was going to grad school, taking the train, so there were commute issues. Could either of us move in with family? Would it be feasible for Rick to get a separate apartment? We prayed about it and worked through it. We decided Rick would move in with his sister and brother-in-law. Rick would need to move out until January, six months.

Rick

A few weeks later I moved out. It was so difficult being separated at night. And travel was a factor too — we were 30 miles apart and my work commute doubled.

Wendy

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The distance was hard. We couldn’t see each other as often, couldn’t eat together, couldn’t sleep together. We felt in our hearts we wanted to please God and this was the process established by our church — we knew the sacrifice would be worth it.

Rick

I lived with my sister and brother in law for a month, for various reasons, that arrangement didn’t work out. I moved back home with Wendy and slept on the couch. Our mentors actually opened their home to us, but we didn’t want to impose. That would have been the last resort. They supported us and helped us find a new solution.

Wendy

At that time there were really no more options. We thought of everybody, researched every option. Then, an opportunity opened up. I could move in with my mom. It was workable — She had an extra bedroom and was even close to the train. I moved out.

Rick

We actually did well with the purity. In our hearts we knew where we stood, we did not overstep our boundaries. We knew the line and didn’t cross it.

Wendy

If we hadn’t had sex before, we wouldn’t have missed it. That made a difference. It was difficult stopping. Finally the wedding arrived. What a feeling. I thought about how we had honored God, and sensed that He really wanted us together.

Rick

The time went so fast. That day was so emotional and happy. We’re finally here.

Wendy

We’ve now been married nine months and I can say it was worth it. Because we made those commitments, our relationship is stronger.

Rick

At the time, during that process, it was very difficult. It was hard to see the benefits.

Wendy

Now we talk more openly about things. We’re closer, more committed. I know Rick won’t go anywhere. I don’t have to worry, I don’t wonder, “Is this going to last? Will he cheat on me?”

We’re more open about sex. Before we never discussed our needs. Now, after we married, we’re much more open about sexual needs. We can laugh and joke about it. We couldn’t even talk about it before.

Our decisions have impacted many people. Our small group talks about us all the time. I invited my girlfriend and her boyfriend, who were living together, to our wedding seminar and I gave them the Intimate Deception book. We are open about our experience and share the challenges. We have influenced several friends to commit to purity. Our mentor couple calls me a “purity evangelist”!

Rick

I started hanging out with an un-churched friend from work, he and his wife have started attending church with us. They have kids, and it’s so good to see that transition. It’s a neat feeling. They look at us and say, “They must be doing something right”. Everything has changed for us.

Wendy

Our relationships, with friends and family, the way we see things, our commitment to each other, decisions we make — have changed. Our number one priority is God followed by our marriage relationship.

Rick

Our relationship has grown tremendously. I never knew it would be like this.

Wendy

I remember in our small group, we talked about a relationship with God. I didn’t understand that. I thought, “Yea okay. I’m going to pray to someone who’s not there. Like I’m gonna get a response.” Now I actually get a sense God is there. It’s just amazing that God is actually here, in a real, tangible way.

Rick

Throughout the day, no matter what I’m struggling with, I see God working everywhere in my life. I know he’s there. It’s a great thing.

We were baptized last December — what an experience. We volunteer together in the children’s ministry, Promiseland, and Wendy is a small group leader in the high school ministry.

Lately, we’ve played a role in the ‘planting’ of a new regional church. We’ve publically shared our story and how our church has impacted us, how becoming a Christian has made a difference. Now, we’re not only impacting family and friends, but strangers too!

Wendy

In my heart I know God has a role for us in this new church. God is using us. I know in my heart he wants us to play an active role. We’re trying to be intentional about keeping our marriage strong. We’re reading, “Hugs for Those In Love”, by Ron and Lyn Rose. It’s a great book. It makes us talk about spiritual things together and gives us ‘alone time’. We plan to get on track with an Old Testament reading plan too. We’re trying to pray together more often, that’s a challenge.

Rick

I guess it’s a personal thing, I’m not good at praying out loud together. We’re working on that.

Wendy

It was worth the wait. Our relationship is stronger. God designed that intimacy for marriage. There are so many risks. Postponing that intimacy strengthened our marriage.

We didn’t play house. If you want to commit yourself to another person, you need to do it 100%. This isn’t a game. The approach shouldn’t be, “Let’s live together and see if this works”.

Rick

Marriage isn’t a game. It’s serious stuff. We need to work on it every day. By waiting it out, praying about it, depending on God to get you through it — you’ll make it.

The honeymoon was awesome!

Rick and Wendy were married January 6th, 2001.

Copyright © 2001, Growthtrac

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