We had a few stressors throughout our marriage. I think the hardest time was the death of my mom before our first anniversary and then the birth of our son just 3 months after that. I think that having a child has been the greatest and hardest adjustment of my life. I'm so fortunate that Gary is such a supportive husband and that he is such an involved daddy for Kai. They share so much laughter together and Kai loves helping daddy in any way possible AND Gary makes sure that there are tons of opportunities for this.
Do you know how we met? We both started teaching at FVC back in 2001. I remember our first conversation with him and I thought that he was kind of strange. Fortunately, the second conversation went a lot better! After a few weeks of working together, Gary asked me over to his place for dinner and I said no. A dinner at his place sounded like a date to me and I was just getting over a past relationship. Gary insists to this day that it wasn't a date, he just wanted to get to know me better. The next day, he brought some leftovers from the dinner that he made and it was pretty fabulous! We did a hiking trip together with a bunch of students and I remember thinking he seemed like such a cool guy in the sense that he was really into the outdoors and loved teaching/kids etc. (hmmm...that might have been our second year)
During this time, I was teaching 4 grade 9 classes and all of them were trying to convince me that I should date Mr. Chapman. Gary would encourage this by coming into the classroom while I was teaching which would of course cause me to be a little flustered. Students would write on the white board `Louise Loves Gary' before I got into the room and they would hold up notes in class that said things like `Isn't Mr. Chapman good looking?'. All of this made me want to date him even less (even though they like to take credit for us being together!). I may have even said at one point that I would not date Mr. Chapman for a million dollars!
At the Christmas formal dance, they had a slow dance and they called Gary and I up to start the slow dance. The entire school circled around us and I don't think I've ever been so nervous!!! The next day, the picture of us slow dancing was the background on every school computer! I wish I had a picture of that now:) Anyway, during our second year of teaching, I had told him that we would never date and then about 3 months after that, I changed my mind. I asked him out for sushi and then, when he was about to drop me off, I started a very awkward conversation. We started dating that night.
We only dated for about 4 months and then Gary broke up with me the day we were going to see a BC Lions game. We still went to the game, although I didn't really enjoy it! I would like to point out that I wrote in my diary, after the first week of dating, that I knew we were going to get married. This guy was just so different than any other guy I had ever dated and this was who God had planned for me all along. We spent about 6 months apart and in that time, I got into adventure racing and really just enjoyed my time in Vancouver. I still saw Gary as we were both still teaching at the same school. In that following school year (2003-04), I decided that in 2004, I wanted to take time off of teaching and go to Kenya. It was during that decision making time that we started dating again. It was March when we started dating, and I left in August. We were apart for 5 months and I missed him more than anyone in the world. When I was hiking Kilimanjaro, I had visions of him at the top, ready to propose to me. He was not there:( When I returned in January, we got engaged 3 weeks later. Four months after that, we got married up at Green Lake where my parents have a house.
Gary is def. different than who I imagined myself with and I think I wasn't his ideal either (although he says he never had any kind of mental`list' like I did!). We are both very happy to have committed our lives to eachother and I think we work very well together. I'd say that 2 major tips that I can think of at this immediate time are:
1. Always consult eachother if you plan on buying anything over $50.00 (in this case, Gary also has to give me fair warning if he plans to buy an expensive food item like parmesan cheese).
2. Understand eachothers love languages (written by Gary Chapman!). We tend to give love in the way we like to receive it. I always used to write Gary notes and send him emails. He would make me nice dinners. Meanwhile, we wanted the other person to do those things for us! I need words of affirmation and he needs acts of service.
Happy 3rd anniversary Gary...looking forward to this year and the laughter, love, and growth this year brings!