The Legacy Project is about you. That’s right, all of you. If you’re reading this blog right now, then we have sought to share this story with you in particular. Why? Because marriage matters. Not just being married, but staying married and we want you to draw hope and encouragement from stories like these!
A couple months ago, Brett and I put our heads together for a way to inspire our couples and those we haven’t met yet to not just come to our site to see weddings, but to see marriages. We thought it might be nice to push ourselves to tell stories we’re not used to, and that’s where the Legacy Project came to be. One couple a month and the only prerequisite is that they must be married longer than 20 years. This is the first of many Legacies we hope to tell, and we pray that you read these entries and draw hope and wisdom from them, that marriage is not a temporary decision, but a covenant to stand on much like love is not a feeling, but a choice and the feeling comes as a bi-product.
T: We met in high school but weren’t dating then. We actually drove school buses together as 16 year old seniors and had a free first period and would sit out by the buses and chat all period. I was dating somebody at the time, and honestly, Wilson was so quiet I barely noticed him.
W: I was terrified of girls in high school (laughs)! I definitely noticed Tracy and liked her, and even though I was scared to talk to her, it got easier knowing that she had a college boyfriend. It was a couple of times a year after we graduated high school that we would bump into one another in our hometown during breaks and holidays. During that time, Tracy had broken up with her college boyfriend and we ended up running into each other at our chemistry teacher’s bar in downtown Raleigh. I must have felt courageous, because I asked her for her number and she gave it to me right there.
T: I never expected it, but he called me the very next day! And that was how we started dating. We dated for a long time, almost 4 years before Wilson finally proposed. It all happened over a burger. I love him, but Wilson isn’t super romantic and didn’t even have an engagement ring. Neither of us had much money at the time, so the thought of an engagement ring just wasn’t a priority. I admit that I don’t even wear my engagement ring anymore. But he asked me right there over our hamburgers if he wanted to marry me! And that was it!
T: When we dated, we would fight and my natural tendency was to just break up. Then we would date again and fight and I would break up again. But as soon as that ring was on my finger, there was something mentally that changed for me…I knew it was forever and I wasn’t backing out. But Wilson and I weren’t Christians when we got married. He had backslidden and I was a pagan and a half, and our first few years of marriage we floundered quite a bit. When we got married, I was convinced that it was Wilson’s job to make me happy. I would call up my mama and complain about him wanting him to do this or to do that, just being a whiney-heiny.
W: Yeah, I was just in a season of not wanting anything to do with church, but my natural tendency is to let things roll off my back, I hate confrontation. But as soon as our first child came along, things changed. There’s nothing like a child to make you ponder a higher power.
T: I guess we both got distracted a little with moving and having our first child, but in 1988, I came to Christ and Wilson came back to his personal relationship with Jesus. We both joined a church and that’s when things started to really change.
I’ll tell you this…becoming a Christian does not take all of our problems away, in fact, after the fourth child came, I went through a period where I was very, very unhappy in our marriage. We had moved again, I was at home with four children, one a newborn and I was depressed and for the first time in my life and I admitted that I could see how people get divorced.
W: I wasn’t helping much because work was getting me up early in the morning before everyone woke up and brought me in late after everyone had gone to sleep. I would come in, shower up, pick the ticks off and crawl into bed without seeing anyone.
T: But here is what was so instrumental to me, I had a group of friends in that church that changed the way I viewed marriage, one person in particular. When I would come in and rat on Wilson or complain about him, they would let me at it for a little while, but one woman in particular…I’m going to get choked up thinking about her….that stopped me and I’ll never forget what she said. She looked at me dead in the eye after I had gotten done saying all of these horrible things about Wilson and said, “He cherishes you.” And it was like a dagger shot through my heart. From then on, they would not let me chew on my husband.
That was a turning point for me, instead of thinking about all of negative things that I could drum up, I started thinking about all the ways that he has laid down his life for me.
That’s what I tell women nowadays, whether they solicit my advice or not, I tell them to never surround yourself with friends that will help you pile on your husband.
W: In high school, of course I noticed her…she was a female and since I didn’t talk to many of those, I think I loved the whole package, but I didn’t even know the whole package. She didn’t give me the time of day but eventually I got to know her and I loved all of her. But what I love most about her now is her personality. She is a really giving person, really warm and a lot of women look up to her honesty. She’s super honest…sometimes too honest (laughter).
What was the thing that fell in love with the most with Wilson? What are you in love with the most now?
What would you want the legacy of your marriage to say after your gone?
W: That we took marriage seriously and we worked at it because it was worth it.
T: Coming to faith in the Lord really made a big shift in our marriage. Marriage is not about “Oh, and now they live happily ever after”. Marriage is about a covenant that we made before God and our community and it’s a way of trying to be who He wants me to be as a wife; to bless my husband, to honor him. One of my prayers every night is, “Lord help me be a blessing to my husband and to help our marriage be a light to others”.