Ever since they met at a campus ministry at UNC Charlotte, Andy and Laura Debruhel have been inseparable. And about 10 years ago, they made the leap from classmates to lifemates.
Now, Laura, 33, and Andy, 31, have three kids (Ella, 5; Sam, 3; Rowan, 6 months) and a lot of sound advice for any couple—whether engaged, newlyweds, or married for years.
BE INTENTIONAL: Andy and Laura recently welcomed their third child, Rowan, which means their free time became more precious. It’s more important than ever that they’re intentional about the time they spend together, Andy says.
So while they both enjoy some time in front of the TV after the kids go to bed, the couple tries to be more thoughtful. “It’s easy for us to just turn the television on, sit, and veg out together, but lately we have really tried to keep it off and just sit and talk with one another,” says Laura.
GIVE EACH OTHER SPACE TO GROW: It was inevitable—neither Andy nor Laura is the same as they each were in college. Both of them have changed and grown. And it’s important to give the other space to grow, to continue to love them through the process, even when it’s hard. “We both are truly committed to this marriage,” Andy says, “and when we keep that commitment in mind, it makes it easier to get through those hard times.”
THINK ‘WE’ NOT ‘ME’: As their family grew and their house grew cozier with the addition of little ones, Andy and Laura’s focus as a couple shifted. Andy says it took him a little while to start thinking as “we” instead of “me.”
“For so long it’s about yourself,” he says. “Then you have a significant other and you learn to compromise together. Then the kids come along, and it’s something entirely different.”
Andy has come a long way, though, Laura says. Some mornings she will wake up to Andy cleaning the kitchen—a small gesture but a huge help. “When I come downstairs, his back is turned to me and he’s listening to a podcast with his headphones in while tiding up the kitchen,” says Laura. “I can’t help but think to myself how grateful I am that he’s my man.”
Andy echoes her sentiment. He says the moments he finds most poignant are when he steps back and watches his wife and children interact. “I can be holding our youngest son, and he’s acting a little fussy, but then he sees Laura’s face and immediately begins crawling toward her,” says Andy. “I’m reminded there’s nothing like a mother’s love.”
FIND A MENTOR COUPLE: Laura and Andy have a slew of couples, along with many male and female friends, who have showered them with relationship wisdom. “We’ve been so blessed to have a couple from our church sit us down and talk with us about what it means to be married and how to better understand one another in our relationship,” Laura says. These mentors have helped reduce and even eliminate some of the expectations and misconceptions they had about marriage, the couple says. If you can’t find a couple, Laura says, look for individuals you trust. It’s worth it.