Newlywed Love (#69)

June 15-20, 1970

Nate, Baron, and I arrived back in Champaign facing a big change in our relationship. In one week we would swap roles – I’d become the student, and he would be the breadwinner.

Donated bloodSince none of his job applications had borne fruit yet, Monday morning’s first order of business was for both of us to donate blood – an easy $50 (half-a-month’s rent). But after my schooling began, I would be busy morning (student teaching), noon (classes), and night (lesson prep), so Nate really needed to find work.

He combed the newspaper for opportunities, but the best he could do was the chance to join a construction crew. He knew very little about that but was confident he could figure out whatever they assigned him.

A local union hall invited men to show up for a day’s work with a day’s pay, and Nate decided to try it. The two of us prayed God would give him a job, and he drove to the designated parking lot to sign up. A crowd of other men were already there, but he remained optimistic.

When he walked back into our apartment by mid-morning, I was surprised. “All the jobs got assigned,” he said, “but a bunch of us didn’t get called.” He wasn’t discouraged, though, telling me he’d show up every morning till he was called.

Stress relieverMom and Dad, always encouraging, offered to lift some of the pressure we were both feeling by taking little Baron for a while. It was becoming more and more stressful to have him outside yet keep him hidden, though we loved him to pieces. Besides, our landlord had always been gracious to us, especially when our rent was late, and it didn’t seem right to sneak around his pet-rule.

Although Baron was as much a stress-reliever as a problem, we decided a little time with Mom and Dad would be OK… just for now. Dad made it clear they weren’t officially adopting him, and we made it clear he wasn’t up for adoption.

By the end of the week, Nate’s name hadn’t been called even once. Our bills were mounting, we still needed a car to replace our noxious Mustang, and my summer school tuition was due.

Rented vanWhen Saturday came, we decided to drive to Wilmette where the folks had accumulated a few more items for our apartment. “Rent a van at our expense,” they said, “and you can take all of it back at once.”

We arranged for the cheapest one we could find, a well-dented, hollowed-out thing with only one seat – the driver’s. So while Nate drove, I sat on the floor holding Baron, unable to see out the window – and quickly got car sick. But I wasn’t the only sick one.

The van was sick, too, continually threatening to overheat. So our 3 hour trip took 6, and by the time we walked in at Mom and Dad’s, both of us had sunk to a new low.

“Delayed hope makes the heart sick.” (Proverbs 13:12)

Newlywed Love (#56)

April 26, 1970

The interviewAt long last it was time for my interview with the Danville Board of Education. As far as I knew, the kindergarten position in the district was still open, though others were being interviewed, too.

Feeling intimidated and under-confident, I hoped my love for five-year-olds would shine through and that 3 years of teaching experience would be enough. I was thankful for Mr. Scarce’s positive evaluation, and just in case my interviewer hadn’t read that, I brought my copy.

After I was seated in front of my interviewer, the first thing he said was, “I see from your record here that you never did your student teaching. Is that correct?”

I felt like I might as well head for the door.

“That’s right,” I said. As he continued to shuffle papers in my thin file, I reminded him I’d first gotten into teaching by helping out in Chicago during the 1967 teacher shortage – thinking that might win a smidgen of approval. But it backfired.

“So,” he said, “you never really studied to be a teacher in college then?”

“Well, I wasn’t an education major, if that’s what you mean. But I’ve always loved children and have taught at summer camps and in Sunday schools.”

I saw him pick up Mr. Scarce’s evaluation sheet and study both sides. Before he could say anything I said, “I did take quite a few adult education classes in Chicago, all elementary ed courses, during the two years I taught there.”

Interview sign“But none while teaching in Danville?” he said, looking up at me over his glasses.

When I had to say no, I figured my goose was cooked. It hadn’t been required when I first applied in Danville, but I probably should have continued taking classes on my own. Without a teaching credential, my job had always been in jeopardy, but after leaving Chicago, I was too busy planning our wedding to even think of it.

The interview continued for an hour as we covered my year of teaching 1st grade and why I wanted to leave McKinley School. When he stood to usher me out, I felt like a failure. I couldn’t think of a single reason why he would give me the job teaching kindergarten.

His last words sounded cold. “It’ll be a few weeks before you hear anything.”

By the time I arrived home I was near tears. Nate could tell by my face it hadn’t gone well and quickly folded me into his arms. I cried a little in that circle of safety, telling him I probably wouldn’t ever be able to teach again. And if I didn’t teach, what would I do? After applying for summer work all over Champaign, I’d still come up empty. Our university town was flooded with people my age looking for work, and good jobs were few.

The two of us sat together talking things through. Feeling dejected I said, “This is probably the kind of thing our 4 parents thought of when we pushed to get married so soon.” (Nate’s folks had hoped we’d wait till he had his law degree and could support a wife…. but we were impatient.)

“Don’t worry about any of this,” Nate said while stroking my cheek. “It’ll all work out somehow. Besides, you don’t know for sure they’ll give that job to someone else.”

His words were a big help, and I decided to believe him. After all, we had prayed about my interview ahead of time, and we both knew the Lord had heard us. If I didn’t get the job, God would surely give me something else to do.

“I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.” (Psalm 16:8)

Newlywed Love (#36)

February 24, 1970

As the weeks of our marriage passed, Nate and I continued to enjoy each other to the fullest. But there was one thing about being married and living far from family and friends that I really missed: time with girlfriends.

With Mary downtownI especially missed my sister Mary (left), but also Lynn, Connie, Julie, my 3 apartment roommates, and my team teacher in Chicago. Though I’d been living and working in Champaign for more than 6 months and loved my job and our little apartment, it hit me that getting married and leaving town had eliminated most of my girlfriend-time.

As I wrote in my journal, “I’m no longer living the frolicsome life of an independent apartment-dweller in the big city. I’m no longer a free agent.”

But as I learned in the months leading up to our wedding, saying yes to marriage meant saying no to other things. And anytime-freedom to be with friends was one of those things.

By marrying Nate, I had chosen to put him first from then on, and I very much wanted to do that. It might take a lifetime to learn to love him in the no-holds-barred way he loved me, but I was committed to trying.

Computer generated concept of cornerstone

Computer generated concept of cornerstone

The full truth was that as we got married, we were putting a cornerstone into place that would end up being the foundation on which a new household (and maybe a family) would gradually be built – the home of Nathan and Margaret Nyman. Through the years many other stones would be added to that first one, which would end up to be the structure of our lives.

Every idea either of us had from then on needed to pass a test: Is this something that will tear down or build up our household? If we answered honestly each time and made decisions accordingly, we could be sure our home and the relationships inside of it would stand the test of time.

So where did that leave me with my girlfriends? If I spent more time thinking about, talking to, going out with friends than with my husband, small cracks would develop in our foundation. Both of us wanted our relationship to thrive – and to be #1. And we’d been told that marriages suffer when outside interests and people gobble up too much time.

And so, concerning my friends “back home,” Nate and I hashed it out honestly and got all our feelings on the table. Our conclusion was that once in a while both of us could spend time and energy on relationships apart from each other. But we’d have to be very careful. And the other person’s opinion would have to matter.

Jesus as CornerstoneThen we prayed, asking God to superimpose his desires over our own whenever we might be doing harm to our marriage, sometimes even without knowing it.

As always, Nate came down on the side of lots of freedom for me, and just knowing he felt that way helped reinforce my desire to keep him as my top priority.

“Invite your friends to Champaign any time you want,” he said, “and they’ll always be welcome.”

I wrote in my journal:

“It seems so fresh being married to Nate. We talk about everything and also never miss our daily devotional time and prayer together. I think that’s doing the trick for us.”

But of course there was no trick. It was actually Jesus the Cornerstone who was part of the conversation and was keeping all the issues straight.

“This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I lay…. a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who relies on it will never be stricken with panic.” (Isaiah 28:16)