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Love is in the air and so is marriage

You know what spring means. No, not the leaves returning to the trees, not the warm weather and not the NBA playoffs, although that’s a worthy candidate. Spring is coming around and so are the proposals and diamonds. Sing in spring with the rings. Terrible puns aside, you might have noticed that there seems to be an abundance of bling appearing on the ring fingers of a number of females here at Eastern. You also may have noticed ring-less females rolling their eyes in disgust and proclaiming “another ring by spring” couple. But these couples are far past the stage of rash decisions and engagements rushed by infatuation. Take five minutes to talk to them, and you can throw all assumptions about the “ring by spring” phenomenon out the window.

Engaged seniors Dan Welding and Brittany Smith, acknowledge that there’s pressure to get married here at Eastern.

“You’re in an all-Christian environment,” Welding said. “What better time to find a spouse?”

“People assume you’re going to get your ‘Mrs. Degree,'” Smith said. “The pressure to get your ring by spring definitely exists.”

Welding points out that his decision had nothing do with pressure. Welding asked Smith to marry him at the swing dance on Valentine’s Day.

“I was oblivious to the fact it was V-day,” Welding said. “I just wanted to do it at the swing dance.”

Senior John Jackson believes there’s a negative stereotype placed on couples to get their ring by spring.

“You’re surrounded by a community of your peers, with the same ethics and morals,” he said. Jackson’s fiancée, Lydia Tobin, graduated from Eastern last year. “We’re both mature enough to realize what marriage entails. We’re also best friends; that’s the most important thing in your relationship. After all, you’re going to be spending the rest of your life together.”

Senior Matt Wilcox points out that the pressure was all on him and that fiancée Caitlin Zelenak had it easy.

“I felt like it was an obligation, especially since we’d been dating so long,” Wilcox said. “I was completely comfortable with waiting until it wasn’t an obligation.”

Why get engaged while you’re still in school? Wilcox has Zelenak’s desires on his mind. “I just knew it was really important for her to share it with her friends,” he said.

While senior Cliff Gehret believes that “ring before spring” is an internal pressure, he also makes an important point about the pressure people put on couples to get married.

“If people respect you, they’ll respect whatever decision you make. Logically, it’s just better to wait until the end of school,” Gehret said in regards to getting married freshman or sophomore year. “Though romantically, I’d say yes, defy the odds.”

Gehret’s fiancée, Courtney Gill, graduated 2 years ago and now teaches and is an assistant basketball coach for Eastern’s women’s basketball team.

Senior Chris Wehrle and his fiancée, junior Emily Clark, agree that there’s certain things that take time to work on. The two have known each other since high school.

“The honeymoon phase of a relationship is deceiving,” Clark said. “There’s just always more to know.”

“Engagement’s just not something to rush into,” Wehrle said.

When Clark’s parents moved to Florida a year-and-a-half ago, the increased amount of time Clark spent at Wehrle’s house proved to the two that they could live in close proximity to one another.

“I knew when I had to live either with him the rest of my life, or totally without him, that I was ready to marry him,” Clark said.

Wilcox knew he was ready to propose to Zelenak because of a specific trial the two went through.

“We just came out of a rut in our relationship, and I knew it was time,” Wilcox said. “I took time to make sure it was worth it. I had to consider not dating. We had to be at the point where the relationship wasn’t dominating our spiritual life.”

“Once we’d gotten through the rut, I knew we were ready,” Zelenak agreed. “I was past the point of infatuation. Every relationship needs to go through significant conflict, to be tried and tested. You need to be able to spend time apart from each other.”

Welding and Smith stress communication.

“It takes a lot of dialogue,” Welding said. “Being able to talk about every subject, especially the awkward ones.”

Smith agreed. “You need to be able to ask your future spouse anything.”

“I think the most important thing is to be able to not have to rely on your partner for your spiritual life,” Jackson said. “When you can be fully independent in Christ you can be united in Him.”

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