Before we get started I should probably clarify for anyone who doesn't know, these are my amazing parents, David and Sally. You will probably figure that out though as 'mum' and 'dad' gets mentioned throughout. Enjoy!
How long have you been together for?
S: 1979 we met.
D:Yes, we met in 1979 as trainee nurses - Group 179B, there were 30 girls and 2 fellas.
So how long have you been married for?
D:32, no wait, 33 years.
S:*Sighs* 33 years, it will be 34 next year.
And were you dating for long?
S:We never dated…
Interesting! So how did you end up together then?
D:God spoke to me…it’s a very long story!
Yes dad…that’s the point of me interviewing to find out your story...
D:Well Sal wasn't a Christian and I was. I had made an agreement with God that I would stay single until God sent the right girl my way. God spoke to me one day and said, ‘She’s the one’. I told God He was mad because Sal wasn't a Christian, and was also engaged or about to be engaged to another fella. So I didn't do anything about it, I just tucked it away and waited.
S: It was actually only 2 weeks after we met that God spoke to Dae and he knew he was going to marry me - I had no idea! We were always together in groups for nursing, so we got to know each other that way. We moved into nurses quarters, and at the end of the last year of our training, Dad took me out to dinner, and I was like, ‘Ooh, maybe he likes me’.
D: We also had a lot to do with each other once Sal became a Christian - going to church together, small groups and prayer groups. We never dated though because nursing was such a small intense little world and relationship couples were always bizarre.
S: Is that why we never dated??
D: Aah well it was one of the reasons.
S: Oh, I thought you just didn't like dating.
S:So it was about 2 years before went out to dinner. He sat me down and said, ‘This is what God's spoken to me about: Ann is going to marry her boyfriend Belly, Geoff is going to go back to the west, you are going to move back into the nursing home, and I'm going to move back home with my parents. And at the end of our nurses training we’re going to get married." That’s what he said to me! That was as romantic as it got.
S: I remember looking at him and I think my jaw dropped and I said, ‘I am not moving back into the nurses home!’ Like that was the worst thing he could have said to me. I didn't even take notice of all the other stuff he said - but everything he said ended up happening.
D:Like Sal said I took her out to dinner after 2 years, and then a year later we got married, but even during that final year we didn't behave as a couple publicly.
S:No we never did, we never really were. Even the girl we lived with said to me 'Sal you never told me there was a thing' and I was like ‘Well that’s because there never was', so it was weird. It all came out at graduation where you take your boyfriend or girlfriend along.
D: It’s a big ceremony and it’s all about ‘who do you come down the stairs with’.
S: So dad and I went down together, and everyone thought it was because we were mates - no one even twigged. When we announced our engagement, it was like the whole hospital was shocked because you can’t keep secrets in the hospital. But I guess there was nothing really to keep secret, as we never really dated, it was the most bizarre thing!
D: It wasn’t that bizarre.
S: He thinks its completely normal.
What do you love most about each other?
D: Go on.
S:You go first.
D: I fell in love with mothers sparkly eyes, and her quirkiness, and her genuineness, and obviously her love for God and for people.
S: I loved his smile, always. His smile and his laugh. And his eyes as well, his whole face would laugh. I love his adventurousness and just his ability to laugh at life, laugh at himself and laugh with you - although sometimes he does laugh at me - I don’t like that bit so much.
Pet hates/Bad habits?
S:That would be the toilet seat - he leaves it up.
D:Mother never tidies up after herself.
S:*Mum's jaw drops*
D:Never shuts cupboard doors, never closes doors...
S:Darling I was unpacking the dishwasher, I'm not going to open the door every time I need to get into the cupboard.
D:Darling its more of a lifestyle issue from day one.
S: That's a very harsh statement.
D:And this is what I get when I bring it up…
S: You used the word never! I have come down every day and found a little pile of dishes that have been left for me and washed them up, I clean up after you all the time..
D: Darling I’m not talking about… doesn’t matter… *small chuckle*.
Moving right along, what is one of your happiness memories together?
S: There are so many, definitely the birth of every child.
D:Yea I was going to say having babies.
S: Just absolute joy, pure joy.
D:And dedicating all you mob (the kids) and watching you grow, as well as all the spiritual milestones for you kids.
What is one of the hardest things about being married? Or a big challenge you have had to face together?
D:Tidying up after mother … just kidding! The hardest thing is balancing personal relationships, family & ministry. It’s not like you go to work, work hard and clock off and go home to another world. Balancing that is the hardest thing, and then sharing that burden. It can sneak into the bedroom, sneak into dinner time conversations, that's definitely a challenge.
S: I reckon the hardest thing we have ever faced was when Hannah's husband left her quite a few years ago (my sister) - that was just devastating…
More so than the fire? (Mum and dad lost their home and everything in it to a bush fire in Feb 2014)
S: Yes, personally for me. To see your child go through that and know there is absolutely nothing you can do to make it better is really hard.
D:And because it’s family. It was just different. Same scale but it’s family. Your hopes and dreams. You can have hopes and dreams for your home because it was a gift from God, but in the end that’s just ‘stuff’ this is ‘someone’. There was betrayal, confusion and a lot of personal hurt, whereas the fire was just a random stupid thing.
So how did you get through that as a couple? Was it a matter of time healing things?
D:No, I mean time in itself I don’t think does anything. It allows a process, that’s all time does. But process is talking about it, praying about it, getting counselling. We had close friends who counselled us through a lot of it as they had been there with their daughter as well.
S: And they were in a place where their daughter had hope again. So to go to someone who had been through exactly what we were going through really helped. Having them there to say, ‘You can do this, it’s going to get better' and 'God is good through it all - you just don’t see it at the moment.' I also had a prayer group I went to and they would just minister to me week after week. They would pray for me, love on me and listen to my anger and cry with me, and then speak words of wisdom.
What are you looking forward to in the future?
S:*Looks at me and smiles* More grandchildren, woohoo!
D:Yea obviously watching the family grow, and hopefully the next ten years in our new home for it to be a gathering point for family - also to see where the church will be.
S:And using our home to bless others. It's beyond our wildest dreams and was definitely the grace of God, it's a real blessing. We want to use it as a blessing for family and an instrument to open our home and bless others.
What is one piece of advice you have for a new couple?
S: Make sure you are equally yoked with your partner, and that you both love God. If one partner comes from a dysfunctional background, they need to deal with their issues before the relationship gets serious, because after it gets serious you’re blinded to the need to deal with stuff.
D:Definitely go in with your eyes open. Don’t go in naive, don’t think you’ll ever change the other person either. Just establish good communication, have the same values, and eyes open.
Question from Stan & Bec: How do you prioritise God on a practical level in your relationship?
D: It's not tricky - just keep your devotional life ticking along. Praying, reading and following your individual vision. It’s different for everyone but find what works for you. Pursue your gifting as well. As a husband one of my roles is to make sure Sal reaches her potential, pursues her gifting, and in turn she releases me into my gifting. So personal daily devotions, pursue your gifting and also support each other, pray together, release one another and encourage one another.
S: So Dae reckons it’s not hard, I reckon it is!! If you’re looking at a young couple working full time, serving in the church, setting up a house and maybe starting a family - whatever it is, life is going to be busy. What I would say is never compare yourself with anyone. Just focus on discovering how you connect best with God. For some this is through singing, reading, prayer. For me personally it's through reading the bible and writing - that's my form of worship. Find what works for you, accept you have your own style of connecting with God, and just go after that - never feel you’re inferior because you do it differently to your partner. Also find the time that suits you and create that space and place were you know its waiting for you. Have a place that wherever you walk in that’s where you can connect.
What question would you like to ask the next couple?
Have you decided what legacy you want to leave? Have you decided what you want people to think about you when you’re not there? And that doesn't mean necessarily when your dead but when you’re not in the room, what are people going to say about you?
Dad anything you would like to add?
D: Thank you for this opportunity…we get to edit this right?
S:I still can't believe you said I 'never' tidy up after myself.
Gotta love family!