Newlywed Love (#31)

February 11, 1970

About this time, Nate had a very rough night that culminated in a severe migraine headache. I had no idea what a migraine was until I watched him suffer through one. His agony was intense, and the only thing that helped was a darkened room with a cool cloth over his forehead and even covering his eyes.

MigrainesHe told me he had suffered through several migraines during high school, but nearly a decade had passed without a single one. Hoping they had just been part of bodily changes from boyhood to manhood, he figured he’d seen his last one.

But there he was, stricken with the worst one he’d ever known, flat on his back and unable to sleep, eat, or even have a conversation. He certainly couldn’t cope with going to classes.

As his “helpmeet,” I felt helpless. Other than to re-soak his face cloth for him, there was little else I could do. And so I sat on the edge of the bed and prayed, longing for God to make him feel better.

Just before it was time for me to go to work, he vomited, and then fell into a deep sleep. His last words before drifting off were, “You go ahead. The worst is over.”

The migraineI penned a quick note and left for school, tremendously worried about my young husband. What had caused this awful attack? Had I done anything to bring it on? And how could we prevent it from ever happening again?

When I returned home later, he was dressed and sitting at the table, bent over his law books. He said he felt drained but that the headache had been completely gone when he’d woken from his morning sleep.

We had a long talk about what might have brought it on and came to no conclusions. He reassured me over and over that it had nothing to do with me. “Since migraines are most likely caused by intense stress,” he said, “then having you alongside me could only help, not hurt.”

We wondered aloud if he should drop one of his classes or quit his job at H & R Block. Feeling fine again, though, he said he didn’t want to do that unless there were more migraines.  I admired his willingness to work so hard, especially since meeting his goals was as much for me as it was for him. But his bottom line was, “Let’s just see what happens.”

And so we prayed together about it, asking God to relieve Nate’s pressure and to keep future migraines away. In the mean time, I had one more question for Nate. “Do you think having some extra sex might increase the odds of never having another headache?”

He smiled his most handsome smile and said, “Well, why don’t we find out?”

And I was so glad to have him back again.

“The Lord has comforted his people and will have compassion on them in their suffering.” (Isaiah 49:13)

Newlywed Love (#30)

February 9, 1970

Nate and I were fast becoming good friends with Linda and Judy, along with their husbands. All of us were in our first year of marriage, making similar adjustments to each other and our new roles. Linda’s husband Ron was a salesman who traveled with his job, needing to stay out-of-town one or two nights a week.

Rip does tricksLinda missed him on those nights, so we often asked her to join us for dinner – primitive that it was. Sometimes she brought her dog Rip, who entertained us with a repertoire of tricks.

Linda didn’t drive, so when she came for dinner, Nate picked her up at the Country Fair Apartments and brought her over, driving her home afterwards. One night, after another deep snowfall, the roads hadn’t been plowed, and Nate was taking her home. As they turned into her complex, he didn’t see one of the large white rocks edging the driveway, and he drove up and over it.

Linda with RipHis VW got tightly stuck, refusing to move forward or back. So, using his bare hands (for lack of gloves), he kneeled in a snow bank and worked to dig away the packed snow from around the rock. Then he battled the heavy rock itself, eventually wrenching it out from under the car just enough so the car could move.

Linda cheered him through the long, cold process and felt bad about the whole thing, but of course it wasn’t her fault. In a report to me afterwards, she bubbled over with praise for Nate’s gallant good deed on her behalf. “He’s my unsung hero!” she said.

Cathy and JohnAs we stockpiled experiences together, our friendships were deepening with the carpool couples and also with others. About this time our friends Cathy and John got married, adding to our group of newlywed pals. John and Nate were in law classes together while both Cathy and I worked to support our men. It helped all of us to know that others were in our same boat.

In addition to these, we were making new friends at Champaign’s First Baptist Church.

Pastor Ralph Nast and his wife Lottie taught the young married group, and a dozen couples gathered every Sunday morning before the church service to study what Scripture had to say to them, many of whom were newlyweds like us.

First Baptist Church

Pastor Ralph skillfully guided our discussions as we grappled with some of life’s prickly problems. And we learned that virtually every question we asked was answered in the Bible. It turned out to be a time of rapid spiritual growth for all of us.

Most of us recognized that this was a unique time in our lives, because we were in the midst of making some of the most significant, far-reaching decisions we would ever make. We’d all made two big ones, deciding to get married and to whom, but other important choices lay just ahead. Many in the group were also deciding yes or no to Jesus Christ.

Hashing things out with friends turned out to be a big help. And Pastor Ralph taught us that Jesus was offering to be a friend to all of us – a friend whose advice should always be carefully considered, because it would be superior to guidance from any other source.

Jesus said, “I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” (John 15:15)

Newlywed Love (#29)

Newlywed Love (#29)

February 6, 1970

Nate and I had been married for 70 days when we hit some “white water rapids” in our adjustment to being husband and wife. Much like the misunderstanding that occurred when he bought the Christmas tree without me, this episode was similar. It was a minor disagreement related to how our varied upbringings had taught us differently — neither was right or wrong, just not the same.

As with the Christmas tree, my response was not to ask rational questions or use logic but to burst into tears.

I wasn’t weeping to manipulate Nate or get my way. That hadn’t even occurred to me. The crying was completely involuntary, and as always, I made no attempt to hold it back.

What I hadn’t considered was how upsetting my tears were to Nate, just as they had been in December. He immediately blamed himself for causing me to cry, which he saw as a catastrophe. This compounded the issue at hand and tipped the blame heavily in his direction. And that wasn’t right.

After our clash, we had restored our relationship quickly with lots of hugging and affirmations of love. But the next morning, as I tried to teach school, I was still bothered by my irrational tears and the extra stress they added to Nate.

I kept picturing his grief-stricken face as he tried to comfort me enough to stop my crying, and I felt terrible about it.

During my lunch break, I decided to write him a letter.

The only paper I had was a sheet of newsprint from my students’ art bin, but it was good enough. I wanted to reassure Nate of my unshakable love and also thank him for putting up with my tears. And I wanted him to know that my weeping wasn’t “the end of the world” as he seemed to think it was.


I knew I couldn’t ask Nate to just get used to it, and I didn’t want him to go to the other extreme, disregarding my tears as insignificant. I loved when he comforted me. But I hoped he could learn not to see it as a disaster but just as one of the foibles of his bride.

I wanted him to know, in writing, how grateful I was for his patient, caring response to me the day before, and in a way, I wanted to apologize for upsetting him so much.

By writing a letter, I hoped to build up my young husband and sympathize with him for his having to accept me “as is.” And rather than hand it to him that evening, I decided to mail it – from Champaign to Champaign.


That way the message would have greater impact than if I just said it out loud. He could read and re-read it, hopefully being uplifted each time.

I thought back to our pre-marriage days when both Nate and I had prepared for marriage by reading books about it. All the authors agreed that difficult challenges were sure to come, and we had said, “Oh, not with us.”

Now we were beginning to see what they meant.

“After you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation.” (1 Peter 5:10)