Newlywed Love (#106)

October 7, 1970

Nate continued his industrious studying, and I did my best to help him. The tapping of our typewriter was the music of our evenings. Once in a while, when we both needed a break, we’d call Cathy and John to see if they needed a break, too.

CakeOn one of those evenings we invited them over for a quick cup of coffee and a piece of chocolate cake at 8:30 – but our quick break didn’t end till after midnight.

Nate and I brought up something from our Sunday school class that was Bible-based, which made no sense to either Cathy or John – who had no personal faith in Christ.

When they left, there was a new tension in the air between us. Something had changed, and as Nate and I did the dishes, we tried to figure it out. How could four good friends fail to come together by the end of the evening? We’d been pals since Nate and I had gotten engaged and had never had a break in the relationships.

We wondered if maybe they were unhappy as a married couple. They never said so and seemed to love each other, but John had quit law school and wasn’t working either. Maybe that big shift was taking a toll on them both.

We tried to recall anything we’d discussed over our cake that might have offended. One thing that stood out was when Cathy told us about her professor making a pass at her on several different days.

“Wow!” I said. “Didn’t he see your wedding ring?”

“Yes, but that didn’t seem to bother him.”

Three's a crowdThat’s when we refilled our coffee cups and began round-tabling the subject of open marriage. Nate and I had talked about this new trend weeks earlier with a different set of friends, astounded that any thinking person would condone such an idea – husbands and wives inviting other partners into their relationship.                                                                                   (Illustration by Ben Barrett-Forrest/The Globe and Mail)

But there we were, chatting with close friends… and they liked this bizarre idea, too. We tried to convince them it would destroy their marriage, while they tried to convince us it was the open-minded, free-thinking, modern way to live.

The chasm between our opinions widened as the hours of our chocolate-cake-break passed, and our introducing God’s Word into the mix only made matters worse.

God's instructionAs Nate and I covered the leftover cake and turned out the kitchen light, we concluded it was these opposing views that were responsible for the tension between us. Scripture was black and white about marriage, but our friends saw marriage as evolving into something different… to suit the times.


We worried about Cathy’s welfare in light of her professor’s advances. Though she assured us she wasn’t interested in this particular man, would she eventually say yes to someone else? And if she did, how could John really be OK with that?

We also wondered if tonight’s friction would cloud our next get-together. Would the same discussion continue where we left off? Or would we go back to being compatible by just avoiding the topic? And most concerning of all, would we still be friends?

“Friends come and friends go, but a true friend sticks by you like family.” (Proverbs 18:24, The Message)

Newlywed Love (#96)

September 5, 1970

After Lynn and Don’s wedding rehearsal, we were all primed to see them tie the knot. But there was much to be done first.

Done do'sWe bridesmaids, along with Lynn’s mom, headed for a salon where several hairdressers transformed our flat swimming-pool-hair to full-bodied, bouncy curls. Even my head, with hair not nearly as long as the others, was coaxed by their expert hands to cooperate. As we left, our up-dos all matched.

M,B,M,NWhen it was finally time to parade down the church aisle, all of us were eager for it, especially the bride and groom. Although Nate and I had separate assignments, we took every chance to whisper quick reminiscences about our own wedding day… such happy memories.

Mary and Bervin were there along with my parents, and Mom was at the organ. It was fun connecting with old Moody Church cronies along with former summer camp friends. And the pastor did a superb job pulling Lynn’s and Don’s life-stories together.

Cutting the cakeBefore we knew it, we were in the church fellowship hall with the newly-married couple, watching them cut their wedding cake – with one of the very long swords.

When it was all over, Nate and the others hustled upstairs to march in formation toward the wedding arch.


Arch-guys marchThe arch

Lynn and Don were definitely the stars of the day, but my personal star was Nate, and I couldn’t help being very proud of him as I watched him fulfill his duties with excellence.

Actually, I couldn’t wait to get him home alone. I wanted to tell him once more how glad I was to be married to him, knowing he’d be my partner “till death parted us,” as we had vowed on our wedding day 9 months earlier.

We all knew that Don, because of his active status with the Army, would be going to Vietnam in April. That meant he and Lynn had less than 8 months together before he would be gone for a year.

Nate and I couldn’t imagine how that would feel for a newlywed couple that just wanted to be together. But we also knew the same thing could happen to Nate, even though he was only in the reserves. It all depended on how long the war would continue.

M and NIn any case, as I watched Lynn and Don get married, I promised myself I would never take Nate’s presence for granted, not for a single day, and would appreciate every hour we had together.

“Outdo one another in showing honor.” (Romans 12:10)

Newlywed Love (#90)

August 17-19, 1970


LynnMy friend Lynn’s bridesmaids and I were planning a bridal shower for her, and my Mom, the tireless entertainer, was delighted to host it at her house. Since we’d waited so long to get organized, invitations had to be made by phone. Nevertheless, we’d gotten an enthusiastic response — and planned to make it a surprise party!

We bridesmaids were putting together a “This is Your Life” presentation on cassette tape, and my part was doing the only thing that could be done from hundreds of miles away: writing the script. It was my favorite kind of job.

Meanwhile, Nate’s parents were on the way to our apartment to celebrate their firstborn’s birthday. I was nervous about making all the meals during their visit, since Lois was such an excellent cook. Although I’d spent time with Nate’s folks on multiple occasions, I still felt I needed to win their approval. My dear husband insisted they already approved, but I wasn’t so sure.

Nate’s brother Ken couldn’t come due to work conflicts, a disappointment to both of us. On the positive side, though, Ken had told us he’d been accepted at the U. of Illinois for the fall semester, so we’d be getting to see much more of him in the near future.

Happy birthdayThe birthday party for just the 4 of us was a quiet but meaningful celebration, and Nate ended up with 3 cakes – the one I made, the one Lois brought, and the one our downstairs neighbors (Fred and Alice) sent up.

This elderly couple had loaned us the saw to dismantle our first Christmas tree, and though we weren’t together often, we took time to enjoy them whenever any of us crossed paths. Nate and I were flattered by their thoughtful gesture. Sadly, neither was able to climb the steps to join our little party.

Nate opened his few gifts, and turning 25 ended up to be the magic number for phenomenal birthday presents… first the Fiat, and then, from Nate’s folks, the rest of our registered china. In 1969 the protocol was to register a china pattern that wedding guests would give plate-by-plate, bowl-by-bowl, cup-by-cup.

When we counted up after the wedding, we had a generous assortment of dishes but very few complete place settings.

Reading of their giftThis birthday gift, to both of us, would fill in the blanks – and give us 12 of everything: dinner plates, salad plates, bread plates, berry bowls, etc.

Nate read the card about their plan and then handed it to me. Both of us were flabbergasted… and elated! We had anticipated many years going by before being able to afford the rest of the set.

Our two days with Lois and Willard passed happily as we explored the local shopping mall together, took in a movie (The Sundance Kid), and gave rides in the Fiat.

Fiat rides.Neither of us was sure what Lois and Willard thought of our “tiny foreign car,” as they called it, but they didn’t criticize. Nate did say his mother gripped the dashboard with both hands the entire time they were out driving —  much like someone on a frightening roller coaster at an amusement park.


They departed after our second dinner together, and Nate immediately dug into his books while I went to work on Lynn’s shower. We were expecting over 30 guests (the very next day), and there was much to do.

“God says… giving thanks is a sacrifice that truly honors Me.” (Psalm 50:22)