15 years ago today, I married the woman of my dreams

It was a double wedding with Christi’s sister – Kathryn who married Evan Pillsbury. (Whitinsville, Mass.)

A BIT OF OUR STORY: We met during our first year at Wheaton College (1988) when had a couple of intro classes together. I noticed her immediately; she was gorgeous, witty, down-to-earth, globally aware, spoke French, and wore an African dress (a gift from her brother who had lived in Ghana for a few months.) We were friends throughout college but dated other people. Hers were smarter, better looking, and richer than I was – nice guys too, but lucky for me, she ultimately settled for a wild and crazy global adventure. We didn’t actually start “dating” until our last semester of college; we like to joke that it was “senior panic” (1992). We had a rocky courtship spanning three continents and several months apart (including France and Liberia). I did my insecure best to test her love by asking her things like whether or not she would still love me if I wound up flipping burgers at McDonalds.

After a hard summer apart (back in the pre e-mail days of regular French postal strikes), we both went to teach intro courses at the African Bible College in Liberia where my family lived. Shortly afterwards, Liberia’s second war began, and we left for refuge in nearby Ivory Coast where I had gone to high school. The “exile” gave us lots of time to work through some of our issues, and we have never looked back. In hindsight, we must have gotten all our problems out of our system then, because it has been smooth sailing ever since.

We were engaged as refugees in Bouake, Cote D’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) in November 1993. When I proposed, she was so shocked she just laughed and laughed. All this time she had been wondering why I showed zero interest in ring shopping. Little did she know that I had asked for her father’s permission about six months earlier and had been carrying an engagement ring in my pocket ever since. This was the first time I was sure that she would say “Yes!”

[I’ve just summarized in three paragraphs what we took almost an hour to tell friends recently; I am sparing you a long, long story with lots of complicating and – now – very funny twists and turns.]

After Christmas of 1992, Christi went home to take care of her grandmother, and I went back into Liberia to “take care of the campus.” Christi was not pleased, but it was an important spiritual time for both of us.  After an encounter with Nigerian fighter bombers in April 1993 [another long story], I left Liberia and joined her family in Massachusetts until the wedding.

After the wedding, we packed all our wedding gifts – everything we owned – into her parents’  Toyota van and ventured out to look for an apartment and jobs in Washington, DC. It seemed like as good a place as any for internationally-minded folks to get non-pressure, temp jobs that would allow us to enjoy newlywed life for a year while we decided where to go to graduate school. I think we surprised even ourselves with what a great team we became. Nine years, several jobs, countless great memories, and one child later, we moved to Paris for three years (2002-2005) before finally moving here in August 2008 – just after another anniversary.

It’s been a wild, crazy and fun-filled fifteen years!! So many incredibly great memories. It hasn’t always been easy, but we’ve always been on the same team. In other words, we’ve had some very tough times – work pressures, illnesses, major life crossroads, etc. – but we’ve always been on the same page, and our relationship has constantly been a great source of refuge and support through the midst of those struggles.

Today is a bit of a sad day; there’s a huge empty hole in my life; it’s our first anniversary apart. Christi is visiting her sister in the US, and I’m preparing to leave for Tyndale House at Cambridge on Monday. So here I sit, reminiscing alone. ;-(

Marriage advice? We were blessed to have been able to get married young and to spend a few years enjoying our young married life together before kids. Getting decent (non-pressure) jobs, living simply, and saving money early on helped too.

But the best advice someone gave me was:

  • say nice things,
  • give lots of backrubs

Sorry that doesn’t sound very profound, but it works ;-). I’ve enjoyed 15 years of an incredible [adjectives fail me] loveship. [I do need to give more backrubs though.]

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12 thoughts on “15 years ago today, I married the woman of my dreams

  1. Christi says:

    I’m so in love with you, Ben. Thanks for not putting up any recent photos. More of me to love, right?

  2. Ben says:

    Silly girl! This is in honor of that day. I have gorgeous pictures of you from April at the beach, but not enough. I need you to send me some really recent ones ;-). xoxoxox

  3. Mike Bird says:

    Ben,

    Three things I wish to say:

    1. Congrats, and best wishes for many more years of marital bliss.

    2. How could she resist a red head any way!

  4. Ben says:

    Thanks, Mike. The red hair certainly is a bonus on the “attention-getting” front.

    You had me there on the “3” things. Must be the typical preacher intro ;-).

    I look forward to meeting you at BNTC.

  5. David Ker says:

    Congrats, man. If your marriage can survive overseas without cracking up you’re doing well! Bless you.

  6. Ben says:

    Thanks, David. Actually, we’ve found living here to be the least stressful yet, but we’ve got it pretty cushy compared to hard-core folks like you.

  7. brad wright says:

    What a fun post Ben. Thanks for sharing the pictures and story…

  8. Samy says:

    Ben,
    What a wonderful paost! Congrats. You and Christi should have been elected the BEST COUPLE of the year. I always voted for you since I came to NEGST. May God continue to strengthen your marriage and add more children. 3 ins’t enough. Liam needs a brother to make the pricture whole. :). Blessings.

  9. Jackie says:

    Ben and Christi, Congratulations! Can’t believe I missed it! May the adventure continue.

  10. Ben says:

    Samy, the difference is that you really ARE the BEST COUPLE. We’ve talked about getting Liam a brother, but Christi says the next one will be brown and already born before we have anything to do with him.

    Jackie, thanks. Maybe you missed because it was just like every other day last week – all library all the time. ;-(

  11. R says:

    What a lovely story. Thanks for sharing it.

  12. Ben says:

    Digging in the archives, eh? 🙂

    I’m really glad you are blogging full force again.

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