Marriage is a Life-Long Journey by Denise Wedel
We all have had our own dreams of how we anticipated marriage to be. Growing up, I had many positive marriage examples around me. The marriages I saw were stable, with no divorces except for one couple. Like most girls, my sisters and I enjoyed playing house. As a young woman, I loved the idea of marriage and saw it as an opportunity to have someone care for me, a friendship and most of all stability. I must admit, I also loved the idea of being a mom. I had no idea of how to make all of this work; but was truly excited to finally find the right man and get married.
My first date was when I was a sophomore in high school. I was very disappointed as this boy was very interested in being physical. I had never seen this before and it certainly didn’t fit into my idea of what it was all about. It seemed that everywhere around me, people were “necking” in the halls at school and this was not something I wanted.
Then I met Ken when I was 17 years old. I liked him right away and knew I wanted to date him. He had a wonderful smile and I felt comfortable with him. I told my friend, who introduced us, that I would really like to see him again. She and I went to where he hung out the next evening. We saw each other every day after that. Our dates consisted of going to movies, Disneyland (where we met), baseball games, Knott’s Berry Farm, picnics, family birthday parties, bowling and spending time with his twin brother Len.
We were engaged for 5 months. He got down on his knee at my parent’s house and asked me to marry him. I was so surprised! At this time, I was the one who had the permanent salary. Ken was a sales man who only made money when he sold something. And, since this was the case, I paid mostly for the expenses of the wedding. Ken did pitch in and help some as well. In those days, you bought your bridesmaids dresses and I remember how much fun we girls had picking them out! We decided on pastel colors and my sisters were very excited. For me, I borrowed my dress from a friend and spent the bulk of our money on renting Rose Hills Chapel. It was such a beautiful church.
A year after we met, when I was only 18 years old we got married. I made this decision because I was very special to him, and he to me. Our relationship did indeed follow my dream of how a marriage should look. He wanted to be with me, he was kind and respectful of me. Our wedding day was a rainy day that September 13th many years ago. I remember how embarrassed my dad was when I realized I forgot my hoop for under my dress at home and he had to go get it. I was young and full of dreams.
I was finally a wife. I enjoyed being just Ken and I. At first, I didn’t realize how controlling he was, but then more and more I began to see. He told me how to wear my hair. I worked and he didn’t let me spend my money. Yet, the fun things out showed his being controlling. I didn’t know how to cook, so he taught me. We would go to the butcher shop where we picked out meat together. One time we bought lobster and had so much fun making it! We decorated our little house together and made it cute. We even took a trip to Oregon together. Then Ken began getting very busy at his shop he started. His idea of fun was staying home and part of my dream of marriage was getting together with my family. I was disappointed when that didn’t happen. We always were able to have his brother come over, but Ken’s attitude made my family not feel as welcome.
I was very excited when I got pregnant. I felt like life really started after I had a baby. We left my family church and began going to a new church together. It was apparent that I was beginning a new life without my family. It did bother me, but Ken wanted a church that would help us grow spiritually. Looking back I can see how even though it was hard, God did use that; taking me to a new place allowing Him to show me more of who He was. It was sad, the rest of my family stayed at the old church. Later, we began managing and moved into apartments which were right by my family. This was a gift from God as I was able to see them during the day time.
Almost right away, now looking back, I saw evidence that my dream idea of marriage was not actually the reality I thought it was. Even though I was doing house stuff, it was survival. It was not entertainment. We had no card parties like I had grown up with. No people around. I was lonely; even though he and I were together. It was different. We had two different goals. He wanted to watch TV at night and work during the day. His goal was to be a millionaire. Even though my idea of marriage was for security; I found I was longing less for security and more for romance.