Peter and I got engaged after a pretty short courtship (we met September 1st and got engaged December 1st) and had an engagement marred by a lot of strife between my future mother-in-law and me. The aforementioned ‘strife’ put my poor husband-to-be squarely in the middle, which was not comfortable for either of us. You can be sure that we discussed eloping on more than one occasion.
We married in the Bountiful LDS Temple on April 20, 2002. The tulips were in bloom, and yet it snowed most of the morning. By the evening, when our reception was held, it was sunny and warm. In some of our pictures Peter and I are both wearing sunglasses. J The next few years brought a lot of happy and difficult times. Before our first anniversary, I was pregnant and we had purchased our first home. By our fourth anniversary, we had 2 little boys and many changes on the horizon. Peter was an anxious, but completely devoted father. I was a working mom, holding down part-time employment with a home care agency while Peter continued to cover sports for the Salt Lake Tribune.
But then the inevitable happened: reality set in. There was job stress, money stress, parenting stress, marriage stress, church responsibilities, bills, sickness, and Peter quit his job at the newspaper to pursue a different career. All the things that go along with life. And if you haven’t been dealing with things together as they come up and resolving conflict as it arises, your marriage will rock. And rock we did. Our 6th year was rough. We moved twice, built a new home, sold our old home and had our third son. Any one of these things would cause stress and friction in a family. These things combined, nearly undid us.
February of 2008 was the lowest point for us. We were living apart, on the brink of divorce. The catalyst for this, I have discovered, is really immaterial. The bottom line was that things had gotten so far away from us that we didn’t know who we were as a couple anymore. After not speaking for a few days, I called Peter on the phone. I will never forget that phone call. I was sitting on my sister’s front porch while she played with the boys inside. We decided, in that phone call, that we were going to stick together.
That phone conversation didn’t change anything, really. We had a lot of work to do: over a year of weekly counseling, talking, changing, becoming different people. The only thing that phone call changed was our attitudes: we took ‘divorce’ off the table. We worked hard at our marriage for the next couple of years. I’m happy to report that now, we are happier, and love each other more than we did the day we got married. And we are still working hard at our marriage. The difference? We both came to the realization that in marriage, it’s not the love and romance that sustains the commitment you make to each other. It’s the opposite: the commitment and covenants you make to each other and God are what sustains the love. People have it backward these days, you hear so often: “Oh, we just fell out of love…” What they really mean is that one or both of them quit trying. Sorry, maybe that sounds harsh, but it’s true. True things are hard to hear sometimes.
Since then, we’ve faced many challenges: our 4th child turned out to be twins, when the economy collapsed so did my once-lucrative job, we were in the middle of a foreclosure at one point, we rented out our dream home and moved 800 miles away, where we knew no one and Peter started law school and I became a stay-at-home mother. But not for one day since that phone call on my sister’s porch have I ever doubted that Peter and I would be together forever. An eternal family is not created the day you marry; it is built piece by piece along the way. Through the fires and trials, the laughter and joy. Happy marriages aren’t just luck or chance. Show me any happy couple with a strong marriage and I will show you two people who have worked and struggled, sacrificed and toiled, to be that way. I will show you two people who may not always like each other, but are committed to each other and their children. I will show you two people who understand that going through the fire with someone purifies you as a couple and a family in ways you can’t really describe. I will show you two people like Peter and me. I love you, Peter!