How did you meet?
Wendel: We met when Tammy was in elementary school and I was in middle school. My dad was the associate pastor at the church we attended in Clearwater, Florida. Tammy was my brother’s childhood sweetheart. She was 9.
Tammy: We met in Clearwater, Florida when his family moved from Minnesota to Florida. His dad was our associate pastor. Wendel was 12 and was in middle school. I was in 9 and in the 4th grade.
Was it love at first sight?
Wendel: Not love at first sight the first time we met. She was just a little girl. My brother had a crush on her. She was 9 and he was almost 11. We moved away to Missouri 3 years later when I was 15 and our families kept in touch over the years through Christmas cards and such. I accepted a job in Florida 8 years later and we reconnected. THEN, it was love at first sight.
Tammy: Wendel was a big middle schooler when I first met him. He was “out of my league”. But, I wasn’t interested in him anyway. His younger brother had caught my eye and was my elementary boyfriend. Our families were friends and when they moved to Missouri 3 years later we kept in touch through letters and Christmas cards. Wendel graduated from PT School 8 years later and took a job back in Florida. He took a chance and called us. I think he remembered that my mom was a good cook and he just wanted a free meal! He came over that evening and by the end of that night, I told my dad “This is the guy I am going to marry. I just know it!”
When did you know that this was the “one” and you were going to get married?
Wendel: I knew it within the first week of reconnecting.
Tammy: I knew it the night he had called and we reconnected.
Was it always marital bliss?
Wendel: We have definitely had our ups and downs like any marriage. You have to work at it. You have to decide that no matter what; you are in it for life. We made that decision in the beginning.
Tammy: Marriage is work. Marriage is a daily choice. Choosing to love and respect even when it isn’t easy (and there were several times it wasn’t easy), but it was a choice we made over 25 years ago. I’m so glad we stuck it out during those times. I am so glad we made that choice from the beginning. I am so thankful we got that advice before we got married. We have learned valuable lessons through those times and marriage is a beautiful thing.
What one thing do you feel has made your relationship successful?
Wendel: First and foremost, putting the Lord first in our lives is the most important part of our relationship. Be the first to say I am sorry and to forgive. Learning what Tammy’s “love language” is very important and learning to “speak” it.
Tammy: The Lord is #1 in our lives and we call on Him A LOT! Be quick to say I am sorry. Forgive. Laugh and remember to have fun.
How long have you been married?
Wendel and Tammy: 25 ½ years (January 3, 1992)
Tell us one thing about the two of you that not many people know.
Wendel and Tammy: Tammy is kind of an open book (most people do know that) and I am more private. But we both love being around others a lot and spending time with family and friends. As much as we do love being with others, we equally enjoy having a quiet night just by ourselves.
What do you like to do for date night?
Wendel: Go to The Table
Tammy: Anything he wants to do…well, not fishing.
Tell us what your most memorable date was and why?
Wendel: Most memorable was when Tammy was in school in Tennessee and I was working in Florida. I went to her parents house after work one Friday evening only to find out Tammy had driven 10 hours after class that day to come home to go on a date with me. I was so shocked that I fell off the barstool when she walked in. I don’t even remember what we did for date night, but loved that she chose to drive all those hours just to be with me.
Tammy: My most memorable date was right after we first started dating. He surprised me with tickets to Disney World. He had a dinner prepared at a friend’s house and gave me the tickets with a rose. We had the best time that next day with Mickey Mouse!
Please share some words of wisdom on relationships.
Wendel: Love and Respect. Vicious cycle. You don’t love your wife only when you feel respected. You love her no matter what.
Tammy: I have to go on what Wendel said above. Once we learned about the Love and Respect cycle, it completely changed our marriage. I don’t respect Wendel only in times that I feel loved. I need to respect in all times. And, in the same way, he doesn’t love me only when he feels respected. Sacrifice. Grace. Forgiveness. It’s amazing how that concept changed our marriage.