“Today is the day!” I remember those being my thoughts when I woke up on that Saturday morning, August 20, 1994. This was the day that I would make the amazing transformation into a HUSBAND! I was now going to have something I had never had before – a WIFE! WOW!!!!!
Just to give a little background, Tammi and I first met when we were in middle school. I honestly don’t remember meeting her, or what I thought of her. I was too busy running around with the other guys, trying to be cool but not really succeeding. I kind of feel bad that I don’t have a better memory of her, but at least my memory is pretty neutral. Tammi’s first memory of me was that I was, “an obnoxious jerk.” We’ve talked about that over the years, and I have noticed that this is a very distinct opinion of me, and it has never wavered… at all… one bit. There are probably a lot of reasons for that, but honestly the best one is that it was probably a pretty astute observation!
As time went on, I do remember her! (I have found that in the most successful marriages, this does tend to be a foundational prerequisite.) As we went through our teenage years, we became friends. It was a small school, and she didn’t have a lot of options… Seriously, we were friends. We picked on each other and teased each other through the remaining years together in our little school. I probably did more than she did, but I do know that she got her shots in too! At the end of her time at Evergreen, she even selected me to be her graduation escort.
Off she went to college to be a nurse, and I went on to a new school. We would occasionally see each other when she came home for breaks, but our lives were definitely on two different courses. We had no idea what God had in mind for us!
The following year I graduated, and went to work full-time while going to school at NMC in Traverse City. I had been dating a girl for a couple years, but that had come to an end. I was just working, going to school, and enjoying life. I had no plans other than finish my degree and make a career in the grocery world!
The fall of 1991, I was working at the store and I saw Tammi walk in. I had not talked to her in quite awhile, but I felt the need to stop her and ask if she wanted to go out and catch a movie and talk. I wanted to catch up on where she was in life and just reconnect as her friend. That was honestly the only thought I had on my mind.
Oddly enough, I remember that night quite vividly. We talked – A LOT! By the time I dropped her off that night I knew one thing for sure. I wanted some more of that. Talking with and listening to Tammi was so natural, fun, and interesting. We agreed to go out and talk some more the next night, and by the time I took her home, I was hooked. I knew I wanted her as my wife. I had no doubt whatsoever. She was the One. (Yes. A capital “O” One!)
Tammi stayed here in Kalkaska that fall and did a year at NMC. During that time she also came to work at the store. We spent a lot of time together getting to know each other better, and starting our dreams. It wasn’t very long before we were talking about the Future. (Yes, the Future – capital “F”!)
The next year Tammi went back to school in Florida, and life got a little tougher. It was hard not to see her. We wrote lots of letters to each other, and agreed to a 30 minute phone call per week so we could hear each other’s voice. As time went on, the phone calls got longer and another night was added. I think by the time she graduated it was 3 nights a week and about an hour a shot! Talking to her was always the highpoint of my day, and I read and re-read letters all the time.
I went down to see her in the spring of ’93, and while I was there, I asked her to be my wife. She said yes, and the clock really started to tick! From that point on it got even harder to be so far apart, but we agreed that she would finish her degree before we got married. For her that meant another year in Florida while I kept working here in Kalkaska. I had a plan that would have me managing my own store one day. Well, that didn’t work out!
Finally she graduated from college, and the planning began in earnest. All the wedding plans we had been making were now being acted out. Trips to stores to register, to look at options, to buy things. We also had a lot of fun that summer knowing that we were finally going to be together for the rest of our lives.
The day finally came, and it was a grand day with all of our family and friends there. We had some hiccups along the way, and there are some things that happened at the wedding that made us laugh then, and laugh even harder now:
- The fact that all of the guys were hanging out at my house before the wedding and we actually got a phone call to get down there to seat people. We forgot about that part.
- The unity candle that would not light no matter how hard we tried, but I had a lighter in my pocket and took care of that – it went out a minute later. I still have the lighter!
- One of the groomsmen broke his pelvis the day before the wedding riding a motorcycle and had to sit through the wedding after I got him dressed.
- The uncomfortably long hugs given out to each of us by some of the guests… *shudder*
- When we left the reception everyone waved as we left then we had to go back because Tammi forgot her purse.
- I did not think ahead to get a reservation for our wedding night and had to stop at 7 different hotels before finding one.
- Sometime you will have to ask me to tell you about the one we found!
It was one of the best days of my life. The day I finally felt complete. I can’t even begin to imagine what life would be like without Tammi in it now. All I know for sure is I wouldn’t want it. She has brought such joy in her friendship, her spirit, and her encouragement. She has been there for me through a lot of hard times, and has given me a reason to keep pushing forward.
In twenty years, we have not had a fight. We have disagreed, but we have never fought. There has been tension, and at times words that hurt, but never words thrown violently about to tear down and destroy the other. The respect I have for her as a person, as my wife, and as my best friend will not allow that. It makes me happy to know that she feels the same way. We committed to that when we were married. At the moment we said, “I do” we each committed ourselves to working things out. Divorce was never an option. We took it off the table at that moment, and when it is not an option for either of you, you will find a way to make things work!
We have learned so much about each other over the years that when we look back at the two kids that stood in that church 20 years ago we laugh. Dated for three years. Talked for hours on the phone. Wrote hundreds of pages of letters. We thought we knew each other then. Nope.
Twenty years in, we are still learning things about each other, and I am thankful for that. I am glad that I still see her as someone I want to get to know. Twenty years in and I am still learning things from and about her, and I don’t feel that I have even scratched the surface of the depths of this woman God gave me. She still lights up my world! She can walk into the room and I just find myself smiling and thinking how beautiful she is, and I am the guy! How blessed I am!
Twenty years. It’s a good start. I’m thankful for parents and grandparents who modeled this for each of us. I’m thankful for the others that have been in our lives that have encouraged us. I’m thankful for a nudge from God to ask a friend if we could talk. I’m thankful for so many things that God has done to make our marriage what it is today.
With God’s help, we will be Relentless in our marriage. never giving up, and never settling. As we grow closer to Him, we are growing closer together. That is the neat thing about God and how He designed us.
Happy Anniversary, Tammi. You are the love of my life, my gift from heaven. You are the best! I love you!