From the Trenches: Blake and Lisa Stedman
As part of Love and Marriage Month here on the blog I decided to run a special little series that I'm calling From the Trenches. The idea behind this is to highlight and interview different married couple's that I know. These will all be married couple's who I admire, who have taught me something about marriage, and whose relationship has helped to inform and shape my own marriage. I'm really excited about doing these interviews and hope you all enjoy them as much as I know I will. I want to start this series by sharing Blake and Lisa Stedman with you. If you couldn't guess from the last name, Blake and Lisa are my in-laws, but they have also been good family friends of my parents for as long as I can remember and I have had the privilege of watching their marriage develop and grow throughout the years even before I was ever interested in their son. Blake and Lisa have so graciously and openly welcomed me into their family and I am honored that they took the time to sit down together and answer these questions for me and for all of you. I hope you enjoy reading this interview as much as I did.
How did you meet?
In High School. We had driver's Ed together, but it was not until the second semester of our sophomore year that Blake asked me out. It was the last day of school in Earth Science when Blake asked me for my number, but he did not call until the next year in our Junior year (we were both shy).
When did you first know that this was the person you were going to marry?
We dated through the rest of high school, broke up in college, got back together during our Junior year of college, it was then that we knew. During the time that we were apart, we had the opportunity to date other people, and because of that became more sure of each other.
How long did you date for?
5 1/2 years before we got married and 32 years since.
How did you propose?
Blake proposed the first time when we were just out of high school and I was not ready so I said no. After we got back together in college, we were so sure about our relationship that we just began talking about our future together.
How long were you engaged?
One year. I announced the good news to my sorority sisters by a traditional "candle passing". That is when the engagement ring is put in a flower bouquet and is passed around at the sorority meeting and stops at the "bride to be". It was so fun and such a dramatic moment, it seemed like a wonderful way to start our engagement, all the planning and the excitement of our new life together.
Tell us a little bit about your wedding?
It was a large traditional Armenian wedding with 550 guests for an elaborate sit down dinner. It was a huge celebration that lasted well into the next morning. We got married in the same Armenian Cathedral that my parents got married in, which was the last wedding in that church.
Did you have a difficult first year of marriage?
Yes How was it adjusting to married life? We found out very quickly that we were brought up very differently and had different ways to not only look at things but resolve conflicts. It took many years of hard work to bring about the oneness that God promises.
What was the worst fight you ever had?
When we fought about buying our first house. To me it was a wonderful home for us and to Blake it was a poor financial decision.
What do you fight about the most?
We used to fight about finances the most. Since I have gotten more involved in our daily finance make better decisions as a couple and are more on the same page.
What's the best way to resolve a fight?
Rather than ignoring the situation with cold silence, we’ve learned to talk about the issue as soon as we were able. Sometimes it took awhile to cool down, gain perspective and think clearly, but we learned that resolving it as soon as possible was best for the health of the marriage.
How have your fights changed over the years?
They not as volatile, do not last as long and have become more respectful of each other.
How do you handle when you have conflicting opinions?
We do not make rash decisions, we talk about our opinions and work it through until we come up with something that works for both of us. Sometimes it takes awhile to accomplish this, but it is worth the time in the long run.
What's the hardest thing about being married?
Learning to be selfless.
What's the greatest thing about being married?
Sharing hopes and dreams as well as sharing daily life with your best friend, being known.
Did you ever think about getting divorced? Why or why not?
Yes we both did, but dismissed the idea right away when we realized that because we have children we would be in each others lives for the rest of our life. We felt that it would be better to work through the issues we had and are very glad that we did.
What have you learned about listening to your spouse?
We have learned that sometimes we hear something completely different than what was intended by the other person. We started to implement "reflective listening" in which one person states what is on their mind and the other person repeats what they heard. We were so surprised that many times the information would be completely different. We would continue the process until we both felt understood and heard.
What makes your marriage work?
Much prayer, much forgiveness and romance.
How did having children effect your marriage?
Our focus had changed, but we learned that it was still very important to make time for one another even though it was much more difficult to do so.
What advice would you have for a newly married couple?
Be forgivers, showing grace and choosing reconciliation.
What advice do you have for a couple that's been married 5 years, like Bryan and I - we are not really newly weds, but we're still just starting out in many ways?
God intends for marriage to be a lifelong process, so there are many aspects that take years to develop. Realize that there are many layers to intimacy and takes years to develop. Treat each other with respect, gentleness, and patience.
Thanks, Blake and Lisa!!
Rejoicing in the journey - Bethany Stedman
The first and last picture were taken by Tara Malouf at Red Thread Photo. The middle two were taken by me, Beth Stedman.