My Wife – Our Strange Dating Life and Planned Nuptials

I remain confident of this:
    I will see the goodness of the Lord
    in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord;
    be strong and take heart
    and wait for the Lord.

  • Psalm 27:13-14

Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.”

  • Mark 9:35

To explain the verses, Psalm 27:14 is the verse my wife quoted most often, but when you add Psalm 27:13 and Mark 9:35, you get the essence of the woman I married.

In the last episode, I mentioned that we talked … a lot.  I loved her voice, but she had interesting things to say.

She talked about the Texas Folklife Festival and the singing there, about growing up in El Paso, Texas, about being born in a taxi outside the hospital in Jakarta, Indonesia, about her travels, about living in the Netherlands.  She sometimes talked in Dutch.  At the time, she could flip a switch, but living for 48 years with a dumb American, she started losing the vocabulary to speak fluent Dutch.

When I asked her about her beliefs, she said that she was Catholic, but she was totally fed up with the church.  She asked the priests questions, and they dodged answering any of the questions.  But then, as she was in school, the teachers would ask her what her question was.  It seemed she made a face when she was thinking outside the box, and the teachers wondered what would pop out of her mouth next.  Mostly, it was inciteful stuff, but sometimes it would be laughably off the wall.  She hated being singled out, but the good teachers knew that she was having a teachable moment, and often it showed that my wife was already thinking of the importance of what was being taught more than just memorizing some facts.  But then, the laughable moments could be tailored into something teachable also.  But the priests – they never played along and to my wife, they had failed her.

She had spent her entire life serving her family, babysitting as young as six-years-old, and she wanted to help others.  She had thought of becoming a nun, but if the priest could not answer what she thought were simple questions, being a nun was not going to be possible.  She slipped a question or two into conversation.  I answered them, but they were not that simple.

Of course, I explained how I came to know Jesus.  If that scared her off, I could always go back to thinking I would never marry.  And if I scared her off, did I want to marry her?  Yes, I was thinking in such terms from the beginning.  That’s the reason for all the talking.  We probably talked more in the first two months of pseudo-dating than other couples did in five years of courtship.

The two things that nearly killed having the second date was me being from Mississippi and me being younger.  She argued away the second thing in that she felt I was more mature than any of her other dates who were all older than she was.  That was probably due to my Christian faith, being well-grounded, and she interpreted that as maturity.  The first one though was a problem, being from Mississippi, and she went back to it often over the 48 years of marriage.  When you marry a Mississippi boy, you marry the family.  She loved my Dad, but my mother was antagonistic from the first time they met, and my mother was one whom you obeyed or you paid dearly for not obeying.  Even after they were gone, my wife said that the pain of that relationship was almost too much.  How would you like to be called the “N” word, a word my mother never used in public, when you only had less than 50% Asian blood, and no blood from a dark skinned ethnic group.  There are dark skinned Indonesians, but not from the islands of her ancestry.  My wife’s mother was Eurasian, meaning a blend of European and Asian descent.  So, my wife was mostly European.

In short, we learned each other’s likes and dislikes, values and things we did not value, food preferences, music preferences, etc.  No subject was off limits.

Our Strange Dating Routine

The next problem that reared its ugly head was the schedule.

I worked 7-4 with an hour lunch.  I then drove to Lamar University to graduate school, taking one or two classes each night, Monday through Thursday.  Each class roughly an hour and a half.  They were on the semester system.  I had Friday evening and the weekend free, except I was in the church choir.

My wife took about three classes, either Monday-Wednesday-Friday or Tuesday-Thursday.  These classes were all during the day, usually in the morning.  Her shift at the hospital was 3-11 at night.  She then had nightly call on one night every other week, and she had weekend call from Friday 11pm to 7am on Monday every third or fourth weekend.

So, dates had to be on non-call weekends, but that was not good enough for us.  Even though she had the two problems, mostly with me being from Mississippi, she wanted to see where this was going.  I just wanted to have a girlfriend that outlasted 4-5 dates before they found a reason to not like me.  Mostly they figured that out during the first date.

So, on an off-class day (for her), I got a call.  “Come home for lunch!”  She had gotten the landlady, who was being matchmaker anyway, to let her break into my apartment with the pass key.  She had just made sandwiches, but we had a surprise date, more talking.  But then I had to go back to work and she had to start work.

Then, she asked if I liked the Tonight Show.  I said I did, but you never knew when Johnny Carson was not going to be there.  So, she said that she would come by my apartment.  If Carson was on, we would watch it and then I would take her out for a snack at midnight.  This meant that when I got home at about 10pm from class, I had an hour to finish my homework for the next class before she showed up.  It also meant she drove home about 1am, and neither of us got much sleep in those days.

In most of my classes, my office partner, a doctoral candidate, was taking the same class.  We each did the homework, but we checked each other’s work during our break times at work.  On rare occasions, one of us would get confused and we discussed the calculations that were necessary or the thought process.  We never “collaborated to graduate” by sharing answers.  Usually, I got better homework grades, but we were both near the top of our class. He was a lot more creative than I was.

But for the real “dates” that left playing cards at her house when she had call.  If she got called in, I simply went home.

But on the weekends when she did not have call, we liked going to the movies.  I think of the 5-6 or 7 times that I saw Blazing Saddles, five were on the big screen and three times were with her, the last at the dollar movie.  I spared no expense dating her.  She drug me to see Jaws, but we both liked Midway.  She avoided talking about her military experience, but she loved action movies, SciFi movies, and especially war movies.  We rarely saw RomCom movies.  She liked monster movies, but she hated slasher, blood and guts, movies – probably reminded her of work.  So, she was selective with horror movies.  We’ve never seen movies with chainsaws or saws of any kind.  I liked mysteries, but she preferred comedy mysteries (spoofs of the mystery genre – as long as there were no bloody knives, saws, etc.).

The 101 Proposals

Her father was wrong.  I considered all women to be a flight risk.  After the first two months, I popped the question.  It never was in the romantic spot with the moon at just the right angle, but I asked.  And I did not count.  I doubt if it was 101 times, but it was too many to count.

At first she said it was too soon.  Then she would change the subject, giving me hope in that she would ask when our next date would be.  But then she told me what her father had told her about me after he saw me that first time in the family kitchen after we had played cards.  She told me, “I have always screwed it up.  I have always walked away.  I have never given a relationship a chance to blossom.  And by the way, I have a black thumb.”

She was not kidding, for our entire married life, if she watered the plants, she drowned the desert plants and forgot to water the tropical plants.  And the plants always died at lightning speed.  She had a perfect record.

After a couple of months of wearing her down, she admitted that I was tenacious, but she still was not going to give me an answer, one way or another.  I was thinking that she was a flight risk, just like all the others.  She had admitted she had run away from all her old boyfriends.

But then I went home to Mississippi for the Thanksgiving Day weekend.  I told them I had met a wonderful girl.  My mother hated Catholics, so I told her nothing about denomination, only that she went to church.  I mentioned the Eurasian thing, and my mother quipped that the children would look like circus freaks.  She also told me that “those people” were all black on the inside.  I was thinking that if my wife ever said yes, she was marrying me, not my mother, but what did I know?

When I returned to Texas after the four-day weekend in Mississippi, and my first ever speeding ticket (only one other one since then), she almost asked me the question.  I guess that thing about absence making the heart grow fonder worked, at least that weekend.  We told no one until Christmas and I took her with me to Mississippi.  That nearly ended the marriage before the “I do” thing.  My mother told her what she had told me.  My mother never talked like that to the people on the street.  We had all been taught to love everyone, but my mother had an acid tongue and overt hatred for the woman who had said “Yes.”  The bottom line is that my mother hated me, and any decision I ever made had to be a stupid decision.  My wife just inherited all that hatred for making the mistake of loving me.

When I look back at it, my mother was a different flower on the same plant that my wife’s old LTC head of nursing had been in the military.  Hating and being cruel because they can and only behind closed doors, keeping their public persona intact.

That first Christmas at my parents’ home, each in our own bedrooms, we stayed for church, and we got up to sing a duet.  We sang one verse in English of Silent Night, Holy Night!  We then sang the same verse in German.  We did that for the first two verses, with her first soprano voice and me singing harmony with tenor.  Everyone in the church loved my wife, which made my mother even more angry.

We wanted a Valentine’s Day Wedding, but there was no church available.  The church I attended, and by then she joined the choir also, was available later that month.  Everything was set.

But where people spend a year these days planning a wedding and then the marriage does not last in most cases, we planned a wedding in only six weeks.  To the trained eye, it probably showed, but then, how did the photographer win first prize with our wedding photo in multiple contests?  Maybe some people over plan.

But in spite of that, we each enjoyed embroidery.  I made four pillowcases for her with Peanuts characters on them.  She made a bowling shirt for me, but that nearly ended the engagement.  She embroidered a football helmet, and although she knew nothing about football, she knew I disliked the Dallas Cowboys, and I loved the Houston Oilers.  We had even gone to a couple of Oiler games.  But she thought all football helmets had a star on the side of them, one of the reasons that I disliked the Cowboys (the universal love of Dallas, and there are other teams in the league?).  When I got angry, no violence, just angry words, she nearly quit.  She said, “Every boyfriend I ever had showed me his bad side.  It just took you longer to do it.”

I apologized and she decided that I was on probation.  One more outburst and it was over.  But the angry outburst worried her.  The thing she liked the most was my moral character, which none of her previous boyfriends had.  And that angry outburst showed her that I was not perfect either.

I finished the pillowcases, but the shirt never got another stitch in it, never got out of her craft bag.  I got the gift of her.  No wedding gift could compare.

My brother agreed to officiate.  Most of the ushers and bride’s maids were her family.  This thing looked like it might happen.

And what is next?

Next week, we will look at the wedding, the mistakes at the wedding, and our honeymoon.

And to all this, I give praise and honor to God.  Only He knew that the two of us would one day marry each other.

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.


Add yours →

  1. May 9, 2023 — 4:54 pm

    I really love these stories of your life with your lovely wife. What a treasure you’re leaving for your grandchildren. It’s good for them to know their family history. It’s also good for you as you work your way through the grieving process;

    Liked by 2 people

  2. So glad you are sharing this, Mark! Blessings!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. This is so beautiful, Mark. I am deeply moved by your stories about your wife.

    Liked by 1 person

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