Its 1976 and Andy was thinking: “why don’t we ever get any decent girls come to our youth club”. Valerie, who was there that evening, “rather damningly admits” (according to Andy) that she doesn’t remember Andy at all! It was an inauspicious start but the couple was married in April 1983.
Andy: “Our original intention in getting married was as a viable alternative to ‘burning with passion’ (we were 22 when we wed) but we’ve also come to see marriage as not only God’s best platform for stable family life, but also an essential building block of a balanced, civil, relational society.”
Valerie: “I believe we got married as we believed it was the best way to grow and mature our relationship, as well as build a solid foundation for a family …not just as an alternative to burning with passion, Andy!”
Recently Andy and Valerie joined with a small group of couples meeting in a home to study the Together material. Valerie explained her early hesitation: “I wasn’t sure about this being group based initially but found it a good encouragement to be open and share for the benefit of the other couples and we definitely learnt, supported and encouraged each other.”
Andy added: “it was presented by experienced practitioners (if that’s the right phrase) in a friendly, comfortable home setting which really helped. The material was good, clear and practical.”
Valerie: “We found the 10 relational needs in session 3 helpful, as it listed the ‘I need’ statement and then outlined what that looked like in practice; ‘this means…’ This meant we could understand what meeting a need actually looked like in reality and check with each other if we were really doing so.
The spiritual legacy chapter was thought provoking and reminded us of the witness to others we make by the way we live as a couple and as a family.”
Valerie and Andy are keen to recommend Together: “We think that the The Together course would be helpful for couples whatever their stage of life or length of marriage. Both for those who are struggling as it helps identify why and gives tools to help build and restore; and for those who are blissfully happy as it strengthens and builds on the good.”
Andy explains the importance of making time for their relationship: “We like doing things together. Recently, we’ve started swimming together two days per week.”
The couple believes in investing regularly in their marriage and has taken part in a few different courses over the years. Apart from spending time together maybe this is the secret to keeping the passion alive?
Valerie: “We would encourage other couples to work through this course, it means time is set aside intentionally to talk about the important issues that all marriages experience. Issues that may have been talked about before but more work can always be done in strengthening our marriages – they’re like an archeological dig – new layers to explore – new hard areas to break up – new treasures to enjoy.”
Andy and Valerie live in Thame, Oxfordshire. They have a son and daughter who both live in London. Andy works as a marketing consultant and Valerie as a practice nurse. They are also Assistant Pastors at Aylesbury Vineyard church.