Larry and Melissa met online and fell in love on their very first date. He recalls that, “We talked about everything that night. By the end of the night, I felt like I had met my soulmate, the woman I was going to marry.” Melissa had also fallen in love, but was in denial. In fact, she wrote Larry a three-page letter explaining the reasons that she could not date him.
But God’s plan cannot be stopped. They wound up spending more and more time together and became great friends. As they overcame significant challenges, their love grew, and they decided to get married in 2004.
After the birth of their first two children, Melissa suffered three miscarriages within two years. It took a terrible toll on both of them. She was often sad or angry; he became resentful and distant. However, after a corrective procedure, Melissa got pregnant again, very pregnant – triplets pregnant. God had given them all three of their babies back at once! Surely life would now be on track. After all, with five children under the age of five, they needed each other now more than ever.
Yet, during these years, their marriage was a roller coaster. Sometimes it was wonderful, and other times, it was constant bickering. During an upswing, they found The Marriage School and attended with the intention of bringing it to their home church. They could see that it was an amazing program, but never actually did the homework themselves. Just as they signed up for a second semester, their relationship hit rock bottom. Once again, they were arguing all the time: in front of the children, in front of the in-laws, in front of strangers at the grocery store, in front of their marriage counselors. Many of the fights ended with the words, “We should divorce.” Even their counselors suggested divorce.
In his own words, Larry shares: “I asked God, WHY He would let us have such an amazing start only to walk a path that would lead to so much pain. Why would He allow us to make this covenant that he knew we wouldn’t be able to keep? Why would God bring these innocent little souls into the world only to let us fail miserably and tear it all apart?? But He answered me. It was a little voice, a feeling or an intuition that told me [that] God gave me free will. Our marriage would only end if I chose to let it end. I could also choose to fight for it, to ignore all the professional advice and really do the work to MAKE it a marriage.”
So, instead of divorcing his wife, Larry fired his counselor.
“I wrote a love letter to this woman that I couldn’t even stand to look at. I reminded her how we met, how much we had in common, how amazing our early time was together. I told her that I wanted to do a third session of The Marriage School, but this time, I wanted to do the work. In fact, I made it a condition: if we were going to move forward together, we had to attend the meetings and then do the homework. And we did. We did the homework and reconciled all the hate and disdain that we had felt for each other. We found ourselves in love again, true love, mature love. A love that was so strong that we knew we could weather any storm that life would throw at us.”
But they had no idea what storm they were about to encounter. Melissa increasingly began to struggle with confusion and memory problems. Concerns mounted and, after several years of visits to specialists, the diagnosis came: Early Onset Alzheimer’s with Dementia.
After struggling so hard to stay together, Melissa was now slowly leaving him. He arranged to work full-time from home in order to care for her and the family. As Melissa gradually lost each ability, Larry stepped in to help her with driving, cooking, showering, fixing her hair, choosing clothes and dressing, cutting her food and feeding her.
We praise God for this healed marriage that provided the care Melissa needed during her illness, for a stable home that anchored their five children, and for the extraordinary testimony of sacrificial, covenant love.
By their 18th anniversary, Melissa no longer recognized her husband. Eventually, hospice was called in, and on September 13th, 2022, she took her last breath with Larry holding her hand. Larry is left with unimaginable pain. Yet, he has no regrets about fighting for his marriage. “I look at pictures of her and see her true beauty. I don’t remember the point of a single argument we had. I look back at our life together and only see the beauty of God’s plan for marriage.”