The Times West Virginian

Local News

February 4, 2014

Jennifer and Josh Wilson build a life together

FAIRMONT — When Small Town Girl met Big City Boy, you just knew love was in the air.

Jennifer Savage was living in Oakland, Md., when, in her sophomore year, Josh Wilson moved there with his family from Baltimore, Md.

When she saw him that first day of school in the cafeteria, that was all she needed.

She noticed him immediately because he dressed differently from the rest of the crowd, more like a skateboarder-kind of guy.

“I told my friend Christy that he’d be really cute if he dressed better,” she said. “Like I had a thing to say about it.”

He moved into her geometry class later that week, because some of his credits didn’t transfer from his old school.

He had to pick a club to join but still didn’t know a soul, she said. At the urging of a teacher, he joined the Christian club, although he had no real church affiliation. One of the guys in the club who went to her church said maybe she could give him directions to their church.

The stage was set. They started talking in geometry class.

“Just ‘hi,’ nothing major,” she said.

Christy started sitting at the lunch table with her boyfriend, with whom Josh was now friends. And so Jennifer started sitting with them, too.

“He was an only child, very independent,” she said. But she never thought much about dating him. They were just friends who talked at school.

Then over Christmas break, to her great surprise, she started missing him.

“I was lovesick, crazy. I didn’t realize how much I felt for him until I didn’t see him for a couple of weeks,” she said.

She’d had a couple of boyfriends before and gotten hurt. She didn’t want to go through that again.

“I decided not to date until I knew the person was somebody I would marry.”

Her friend logically told her they could date. She didn’t have to marry him.

“I was all in a tither,” Jennifer said. So she wrote Josh a note that she was going to give him on the first day back, asking him to call her.

Surprise, surprise: He asked her first.

“We talked on the phone for four hours. We told each other everything.

“And that’s how it all started,” she said, laughing.

Talk about opposites attracting. She loves to talk; he’s quiet. And that works out just fine for them.

“He is just always a solid. We’ve had our ups and downs, but I can’t remember a time when we’ve been uncertain about each other. He’s so forthright, so honest. It was just a solid relationship from the very beginning.”

He asked her to marry him while they were both in school. He even got her a ring. She was onto him. But he said there was something he had to do first: get permission from her dad, who agreed.

Nine months after she graduated, the two married. Nine months after that, they moved to Kentucky.

“That was a leap of faith. Those were good formative years,” she said.

They learned to depend on each other and that strengthened their marriage.

They both went to college and then moved to Marion County. They’ve been married almost 19 years and have two children, Isabella, 8 and Elias, almost 10.

They’d had trouble with fertility and were on the verge of adopting when they found out she was pregnant. A year later (“surprisingly,” she said), she got pregnant again.

Their marriage is strong, but it takes work, she said.

“I read lists of what to do for a healthy marriage. We both do that. It’s not easy but we’ve never had shaky times.

“I tell our daughter she should marry a man like her father, and I tell our son he should be a man like his father.”

Josh isn’t like the “macho men” she was once attracted to, she said.

“He’s not showy. He’s grown so much as a man over the years. He doesn't have to be heard. He doesn’t require people to be certain ways for him to love them and be kind to them and give them what they need,” she said.

They help each other without being asked, she said. He’ll help with dinner. She’ll start his car on frosty winter mornings.

“And we talk and joke and flirt with each other,” she said. “We remember that we were here first, before we had the kids and it was just the two of us.”

When she went to Peru for a week, he completely encouraged her to go. Of course, she missed her children.

“But I missed Josh so much,” she said. “I wanted to see him first and foremost. He is my place to land. And I try to be that comfort to him.”

She’s learned that communication is key to keeping a relationship strong.

“You can’t let daily irritations build up. If I’m upset, I come to him and say so. And he will do the same with me.”

Their faith in God also keeps their relationship strong.

“The Bible tells us to serve each other. I do submit to Josh in major decisions. He lets my opinion be heard but if it comes down to making a decision, I will let him have the ultimate say.

“In the same regard, he doesn’t expect to have his way with things. He wants what’s best for all of us.

“I watch all these wedding TV shows. It seems like people put so much stock in preparing for the wedding and so little in preparing for marriage. They want the perfect house, perfect everything. And then they get married and realize none of that will make a relationship happy.”

In the early years of their marriage, they frequented dollar stores and had second-hand furniture.

“And that didn’t matter. We were building our life together. This made us stronger as a couple. We didn’t come into our marriage with everything at our fingertips. We had to figure out how to make it happen.

“When you struggle to make ends meet, it gives you endurance. Life is work but when you have that relationship ... somebody walking beside you no matter what, somebody who loves you and serves you and is there and makes life as easy as they can despite the circumstances ...

“That’s what love is all about.”

Email Debra Minor Wilson at dwilson@timeswv.com.

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