By Debra Minor Wilson
Times West Virginian
Do you remember where you met your true love?
Of course you do.
Where you became engaged? Were married?
Not many people can say all three happened within a few yards of each other.
But Stephanie and David Jones can.
They all took place within 100 yards of each other at the West Virginia Wesleyan campus.
“It’s a funny story how we met,” she said. “His sister was one of my college roommates at Wesleyan. But I didn’t know she had a brother until he came to graduation weekend and we met.”
She went home to Shinnston for the summer, while he took a job in Richmond.
“But as soon as I got to the house, the phone rang. It was him. I was surprised.”
He came back to visit that summer. In the fall, she started law school at WVU. Still in Richmond, he made the weekly trek to the University City all three years she was there.
“He was funny,” she said. “He was fun to hang out with. He made you laugh with his little witty comments.
“He’s down to earth and very sweet,” she said. “We were apart a lot but he wrote me letters and sent me cards. And he drove to WVU every weekend and helped me study. He was just always there.”
This meant a lot to her, she said.
“I was having a hard time at law school. It’s so time-consuming. Everything you hear about it is true. So it was good to have his support. I knew I could always call him and he’d be there.”
Their courtship was “one long-distance date” from the time she left Wesleyan.
“Did we ever really date?” she asked David, who was sitting in the background.
She said he started to get serious her second year of law school. That’s when he asked her to marry him, on Valentine’s Day 1997.
“The funny thing is, he asked me at Wesleyan on the steps of Wesley Chapel,” she said. “He told me we were going to see a movie that was playing only in Weston. He said it was sold out in Clarksburg.”
So they left Morgantown and headed south ... right to Buckhannon.
“By the time we got there, I thought something was not right. But I don’t remember thinking then he was going to ask,” she said.
There was only one place special enough for this to happen.
“It was my favorite place and still is,” she said. “It’s so pretty. I love it there. Such good memories.”
When they stopped at the chapel, they walked to the steps and he got down on one knee.
“I remember thinking, ‘Is this it? Is he going to ask me now?’”
They were married Aug. 15, 1998 ... at Wesleyan, of course.
“That completes the trilogy,” she said, laughing.
“That’s where we met, he proposed and we got married. Not many people can say they met, got engaged and married all within 100 yards of the same spot,” she said.
This was the only weekend available: after her bar exam and before school started back up. And it just happened to be his birthday.
“That wasn’t planned,” she said.
For the next eight years, they traveled and took vacations, and she enjoyed her professional life.
And then came the kids ... Hayden, now 7 1/2; Landon, 5 1/2; and Anna, 3.
“We got to know each other before the kids came along. Now we don’t know each other at all. We don’t have the time,” she said, laughing.
“It’s fun being married to him. He’s really good with the kids, the boys especially. He coaches their T-ball teams and they’re excited when he comes home.”
“Perseverance” best describes their love story, she said.
“Especially now, with three kids so close in age. Things can be difficult, but we would not be together if not for perseverance and dedication.”
Lots of couples have date nights, she said. But they take this one step further.
“That’s great, but we let each other have nights out with our friends. This lets me get out after being at home with the kids all day,” the stay-at-home mom said.
“And sometimes she’ll take the kids and I have a basketball game on Sundays,” David said. “That sounds funny to say when you think how you support each other, you make time away from the kids.
“But you also want that connection with friends, outside the kids. This allows us to continue to have those connections.”
He heard Stephanie say she was attracted by the way he made her laugh.
“Part of that was mutual,” he said. “We laughed a lot together. It was an instant thing. From the very start, we felt like we’d been together much longer than we had. We found ourselves cutting up, saying silly things.
“We did not try to be perfect, and that’s important. We didn’t have a lot of time together in consecutive days, maybe one or two weekend days at a time.
“So it was easy to be ourselves and almost feel we’d been together longer. Our time was very important.”
Remember those words in your wedding vow: “for better or worse”? That is the test of a relationship, he said.
“The strength of your relationship and love is easy to be seen in the perfect moments, flashpoints in your life, when things are good.
“But a lot of times, they’re revealed over time in little bits. It’s easy to have a relationship that feels great in great moments.
“It’s how you lean on each other, get through the tough times, through those ups and downs, that you find your relationship is different.
“Our journey is not just a point in time when things are fantastic. There will be times when it’s hard for her or hard for me, or things with the kids. But the strength of your love and relationship are not revealed until you’ve gone through those things.”
Email Debra Minor Wilson at email@example.com.