Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Choosing Power

I keep hearing in the media about how marriage rates are continually declining. (*To clarify: throughout this post, I'm referring to traditional marriage.) This news does not make me happy, not one little bit! Maybe you've already heard about this sad marriage news? If not, here are some links explaining the research (newest to oldest):
Now that you're up-to-date in the marriage news department, let me tell you about what I've been up to: I recently celebrated my 17th anniversary with my loving and amazing husband!! Because of our gift-giving and happy celebrations, I've been on a super pro-marriage kick. :) Thus, I would love it if I could convince the marriage fence-sitters to see the joy in marriage and possibly want to take the plunge!

*Warning: This post is long as I'm sharing much of Greg's and my love story, and I'll not apologize for it! :)

Our First Encounter
I was 17 when I met 18-year-old Greg at a Highland High School rugby game at the University of Utah—we were both spectators. Have you seen the marvelous movie, Forever Strong? Well, it's all about the Highland Rugby team. (If you want the tiniest snapshot of my teenage years, watch the movie's sideline/audience scenes at the rugby games!) I give a lot of credit to Larry Gelwix for the fact that Greg and I even met in the first place! Granted, we probably would have met under other circumstances because we attended the same high school—and I think we were truly destined to be together—but you never know! :)

I was chatting with my friends at the Highland Rugby game when suddenly this tall, good-looking young man was standing next to me and began talking. Greg made me smile and laugh a lot! What surprised me is the fact that Greg kept talking to me! You see, I was still somewhat timid around boys at that stage of my life and didn't have the best self esteem—but I was working on improving it! Don't misunderstand, I had spent a lot of time around young men, but I was just simply awkward around them.

Although I don't remember every detail of the day, our meeting made an impact on both of us. I remember walking back to the car thinking, "Hmm...why does this day feel different??" Greg went home and wrote in his day-planner, "Met Adrie ______ today." I love that he thought our first meeting was significant enough to write about in his day-planner!

Greg and I saw each other occasionally in our high school's hallways for the rest of the school year, which was approximately three-and-a-half weeks. Whenever he saw me, he would teasingly yell, "Aaaadrie!" I wanted to shrink with embarrassment, but I loved it! Greg always made my day!

Dating, the Missionary, and the Nanny
Even though I was awkward around boys, throughout the year before I met Greg, I'd been on many group/individual dates, and had a casual dating relationship with another young man. I was not ignorant of how relationships between young men and young women worked.

Greg and I began casually and sporadically dating early that summer (after he graduated high school), but we didn't start seriously dating until about one month before he left to serve a mission in Fukuoka, Japan, for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

The weeks Greg and I spent together before he left on his mission are so precious and special to me, for it's when we first discovered true love! Greg and I were truly thrilled to note the vast amount of similarities we shared.  As Greg so aptly described it, "It's like I'm home." I couldn't have agreed more! We decided that we could even see ourselves married to each other in the future! Saying those words out loud shocked my 17-year-old ears, but they felt so so right to my heart and mind!

Thus, it felt painfully strange when Greg told me that I should date other young men while he served his mission. Even though we both agreed that we were the perfect marriage-match for eternity, Greg didn't want me to "wait" for him. That was a very hard and gaggy pill for me to swallow, but I reluctantly agreed.

When Greg left on his mission, I felt like my soul had been ripped out through my heart. No exaggeration. (Think of the Evil Queen ripping hearts out on Once Upon A Time, and that's how I felt!) I was a mighty sad girl. Thus, I was so happy that we wrote to each other every week throughout his entire mission. When we were either too tired or busy to write, we'd record cassette tapes and send them to each other. (I still have a shoebox full of our tapes!) When I traveled to France, Switzerland and Italy with my dad for my senior graduation trip, I mailed Greg post cards and a few packages. Late into Greg's mission, he was made the AP (Assistant to the Mission President), so we began faxing each other! Yes, this really dates me! Receiving faxes from the love of my life was awesome!!

But back to the dating while Greg was on his mission: Yes, I dated other men. It's strange for me to write those words because it feels like I've never been without my Gregor! The other men I dated were all very good men (I wouldn't have settled for anything less), and we truly cared about each other. My time with each of them absolutely helped me grow into the woman I am today. Through our (sometimes short) relationships, those men unknowingly prepared me for my incredibly wonderful marriage to Greg! I hope I helped prepare them as well.

As the years have passed, most (if not all) of those men have married well and now have beautiful families. I had no doubt they would live great lives! That said, in my mind, there was no one who came close to Greg. When I say that, I'm not dissing the other men I dated. They were simply not meant for me, nor was I meant for them. Greg and I were meant for each other!

Below is the photo Greg kept with him throughout his two-year mission in Japan. He combined his senior-football picture and my junior-year picture. While I was in France, I sent him a lovely picture frame that he put them in. I still have those photos in the very same picture frame on my computer desk! We were so young! Looking at us still makes me twitterpated! FYI, this photo was taken before my thyroid problems began.

While I waited for Greg to come home from his mission, I graduated from high school, and worked that summer at a local dry-cleaners. That October, I became a nanny for a wonderful little boy in Michigan for one year. I loved being a nanny so much! It was hard work, but super rewarding. I refer to my nannying experience as my mini-mission. :)

During the 25 months Greg and I were apart (Oh, yes, I totally counted!), we each had experiences beyond compare. Our souls grew so much in such a short period of time! It really is amazing to me when I stop and ponder our growth.

Contrary to what some may think, Greg and I also grew together as a couple. Through our letters, cassette tapes, poems and gifts, we came to understand each other as we never had before. I honestly believe we couldn't have grown together as well as we did, were it not for our time spent apart! Relying on our faith in each other and our Heavenly Father was at times hard, but it strengthened our souls and showed us time and again just how right we were for each other! I literally can't count how many times I received a letter from Greg with the perfect advice or loving words in the precise moments I needed them. It's like he knew exactly what to write to me one week in advance!

Oh, wow. Just going back to that time in my mind brings tears to my eyes: Greg was everything to me...and he still is! Our souls were so connected to each other, despite being approximately 6,757 miles apart! I can't reiterate enough that we were meant for each other! (Those statements still apply even though I was dating other young men off-and-on throughout his mission. Again, I would have chosen Greg every time if he weren't in a different country!)

Homecoming, PMS and Las Vegas
After I completed my year of nannying in Michigan, I moved home mid-October. Happily for me, Greg came home from Japan by the end of October. In retrospect, I still say those two years were the l.o.n.g.e.s.t. two years of my life! I was so ready to marry my one and only true love! Greg, on the other hand, was now the awkward one. I think I would classify his malady as Post Mission Syndrome...a different kind of PMS! Ha ha.

Two weeks after Greg came home from Japan, he began working as a Japanese-speaking tour guide in Las Vegas. Despite our grand love for one another, I nearly wasn't able to wait for him. You see, I had no idea that his plan was to go work crazy-long hours in Las Vegas in order to save up enough money to buy me an engagement ring. So sweet! Yeah, that would have been really good information for his planner girlfriend to know ahead of time!

When he said goodbye, I thought, "What are you doing?! I waited two years for you, and you run off to go work 16-hour-days in LAS VEGAS?!" A few weeks into his life in Vegas, I thought, "And now you're too tired to talk to me on the phone when you finish working every day?! What kind of a relationship is this?! Aaahhh!" Thankfully, I chose to wait four more months. Remember, patience didn't use to be my virtue. :)

However, there was one night near the end of four months when I almost broke up with him because I couldn't take being apart from him anymore. In that tender moment, Greg gently pleaded and lovingly convinced me to stick-it-out with him just a little longer.

Who knew his plan was already in place? I surely didn't! Thus, I was super surprised when he came home three days later! I still remember the moment I looked out my parents' front door and saw a very skinny Greg (he worked way too hard in Las Vegas) standing on my front porch. I thundered down the stairs faster than lightning, threw open the door and jumped into Greg's arms! We endlessly hugged and I bawled my eyes out. My Gregor was HOME!

I'm truly beyond grateful that neither one of us gave up on each other! Wow. Again, I shudder to think about what might not have been...

The Proposal
Two months later, my dreams came true: Greg proposed to me! Thankfully, he proposed at the very right time during our dinner at Market Street Broiler by the University of Utah. (It just closed in April, 2014. So sad face!) I say thankfully because I was just about to ask him what he thought about me serving a mission for our church, since I thought we weren't getting married anytime soon! (There's more to that story, but I'm going to bypass it for now.) Every time I think about the timing of our proposal dinner, I wonder, "What if I had asked him my mission question first, before he proposed? What if he would have said, 'Yes, you should serve a mission!', and kept the ring hidden from me? Seriously, where would we be in our lives??!"

But back to his proposal... I immediately, enthusiastically and emphatically said, "YES!!!" And all of the other restaurant patrons began clapping, cheering, whistling and wishing us, "Congratulations!" It was like an awesome movie! Instead of crying like people do in the movies and on reality TV shows, I was like, "It's about time!!!" :) We headed home and proceeded to tell our entire world our fantastic news! Up to that point in my life, I had never been so happy!

This photo was taken mere minutes after we told my family we were engaged! It's all crinkled because we folded it so it would fit in a picture frame. :)

This is the photo we used for our wedding invitation! While it's kind of an awkward pose, we both really liked it. :) Our feet weren't showing in the final product. I don't know why I didn't go out and buy a pair of shoes that matched my dress! It's probably because I was trying to save money. Although, those were my favorite strappy shoes for years! I was sad when they finally fell apart. :(

This photo was taken during our engagement photo shoot. It's one of my absolute favorite photos of Greg and I!

Our Wedding!
Greg and I were married on a beautiful and perfect summer day in 1997. We chose to be married in the incomparable Salt Lake Temple and sealed for time and all eternity! There are so many beautiful moments of that day, I could spend an hour reliving each one! What I'll say is this: My heart overflowed with peaceful joy on our wedding day. I knew that Greg and I were meant to be together for eternity! My ever-restless soul was finally calm and fulfilled. While I can't speak exactly of Greg's emotions, I know he was so happy with the decision he made. :)

Speaking of eternal marriage, I highly recommend reading/watching/listening to this excellent talk, The Marriage That Endures, by Gordon B. Hinckley, former president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Below are two of my favorite paragraphs from his talk (in consecutive order)—I created these typographic designs to look the same because they must go together! Plus, the paragraphs wouldn't fit all on the same page. :)

Here are some of our precious photos of that amazingly perfect day. These were all taken by my father, except for the portrait of us in front of the pillars. (I apologize for their quality, for they were scanned into my printer that has only a 600x600dpi scanner. And I have no idea if I wrote that statistic correctly!)

My heart was swelling at this very moment! By the way, I loved my wedding dress so much! It was exactly the wedding dress I'd always dreamed of and hoped for! It's hanging in my basement and I can still fit into yeah! ;)
Tough Guy Lovin' the Princess! Greg said his hand symbol was showing his heart full of love for me. He completely melts my heart! :)

Oh, how I loved that moment! I still absolutely remember it!

Mr. & Mrs. Peterson. This was for real the happiest day of my life!
Now that you're acquainted with how Greg and I met, fell in love, and married for eternity (yay!), let me bring you back to my original thoughts that began this post. You see, I strongly believe that when a couple chooses marriage, they are essentially choosing power.

By choosing marriage, a woman and a man are effectively showing just how Christlike they desire to become.

By choosing each other day after day, year after year, decade after decade, (and hopefully life into eternity), married couples show their willingness to put another person's well-being ahead of their own.

By continuing to love and serve each other in every aspect of their marriage, a husband and wife put away their natural-man/woman tendencies. They show their spouse and our Heavenly Father (God) that their spirits are stronger than their flesh. They prove that their souls can triumph over their human shortcomings and weaknesses.

By daily implementing compromise, selflessness, patience, service, kindness, sacrifice, etc., a married couple can not only walk the path of our Savior, Jesus Christ, but become more like Him every day!

Yes, a man and a woman are never more powerful than when they are devoted solely to each other! Yet they become even more powerful when they are sealed together forever! Sorry, I couldn't resist sharing that eternally happy thought. :)

Now I'd like to clarify a few things about my marriage. Over the years, there have been several people who've assumed that because Greg and I are so happy together, our marriage must be 100% easy-peasy all the time. Well, it's not. Also, when referring to my happy marriage, people have said to me, "Oh, you're so lucky!" I appreciate their kind thoughts (truly!), but sometimes I want to emphatically reply, "Luck has nothing to do with it! We work our hineys off!" ;)

Even though Greg and I have this immense love for each other and a really awesome love story, we still occasionally have miscommunications/misunderstandings, and tiny moments of crankiness, snappiness, PMS (the female kind this time), selfishness, sadness, frustration, etc. That said, those stressful moments don't come between Greg and I very often simply because we work every day to prevent them from entering into our relationship. If we are ever at odds with each other, we'll talk it out until we come to a resolution, or agree to disagree.

A little while ago, I chatted with my dad about this topic. I told him I was going to write a blog post about my marriage and how luck has nothing to do with its success. He said, "That reminds me of a quote by Samuel Goldwyn. He said, 'The harder I work, the luckier I get.'" I squealed when my dad said those words, for they are exactly how I feel!!

Yes, friendly readers, luck most definitely has nothing to do with my wonderful marriage. Ever since Greg and I met, we put everything else aside and chose each other. We chose each other when we were teenagers, young adults, newlyweds and thirty-somethings! And we continually choose each other every single day of our lives!

So, if you're not sick of this topic yet, I highly recommend reading these two articles about marriage:
The Case for Getting Married Young, by Karen Swallow Prior

Speaking of marriage tips, when Greg and I were just three-months-married, we took a celestial marriage class at the University of Utah's LDS Institute of Religion from Dr. John Lund. He did a fabulous—and very entertaining—job of helping class members determine what was working in our marriages, and what we needed to spend additional time on. He gave us the communication skills and perspectives needed to create a beautiful marriage. Greg and I are still going strong because we heeded and implemented Dr. Lund's incredibly wise words!

Years later, Dr. Lund turned his celestial marriage class into a book and CD, For All Eternity. I bought the CD many years ago and Greg and I listen to it every once in a while as a marriage refresher course. :) We find it super helpful and wish every engaged couple would listen to it as a way to prepare for their marriage!

Truly, I've never felt more powerful than the moment Greg and I were married and sealed for time and all eternity in the Salt Lake Temple. I knew in that sacred moment that Greg and I were impacting not only our souls, but many future generations to come! The amazing thing is, I continue to feel that holy power every time I choose to love, honor, support, and cherish my husband! And I believe we've strengthened our power as a married couple since creating our children and bringing them into this world. I guess you could call us a power couple! Ha ha. The best news is, this powerful blessing—marriage—is available to anyone who makes a genuine effort to obtain and maintain it!

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