TheaMarie was raised Protestant, but met her husband-to-be at their Catholic high school. For three years, she and Ben were close friends, telling each other everything in between dating relationships with others. Ben asked TheaMarie to their junior prom where, to her surprise, he asked her to be his girlfriend two weeks later.
In TheaMarie’s words: God is beautifully omniscient and works in the most graceful ways. Slowly but surely, the Lord began to work through Benjamin's loving faith and practices to show me the beauty, mercy, and consolation of the Catholic Church. We began spending time in the chapel during lunch together, going to late-night Adoration, and exploring the sacraments together.
On November 1, 2013 I entered the Catholic Church at a school-wide Mass, with Ben as an altar server. It was very special, and an experience we both hold dear to our hearts. We both went off to college in Wisconsin, him in Milwaukee and myself in La Crosse. Dating long-distance has stretched us in ways we couldn't have imagined. These past four years have not been without tears or long discussions, but the fruits have already become manifest. We have continually looked to our Mother and to St. Joseph for guidance as we’ve weathered our journey across the distance.
Our engagement was expected, yet also completely unexpected. It was expected in that we had been courting for four years, working on our careers and bettering ourselves to grow closer to God. But the timing and setting were entirely unexpected.
I was convinced Ben would propose somewhere in our North Dakota hometown, where we spent countless hours talking, working on homework, driving around, praying, and being with family and friends. He completely surprised me when I’d delayed my flight home from school beforer Christmas break.
It was a Saturday night, and we were on our way to Mass. It was beginning to storm. Unknown to me, before we left Ben had made plans with friends who worked for the Basilica of St. Josaphat in Milwaukee, asking them the best spot to propose. On our drive to the Basilica, at the same time we both said we wanted to go to a different Catholic Church we had been planning to explore more at some point. We took the exit and attended a beautiful Mass, with few present as the winter storm had made travel difficult.
At the end of Mass, we finished our prayer. Ben asked if we could go to the front of the church to pray for safe travels. As we knelt, I could feel that he was nervous, which made me nervous!
We prayed, and I got up and to put my jacket on. Ben grabbed it from me and put it on the pew. With my hand in his, he knelt and said,
"TheaMarie, we have grown so much over the past seven years. I cannot imagine my life without you. You are my whole life. Will you make me the happiest man... Will you marry me?"
I stood there in disbelief and absolute excitement and said, "Yes, yes, yes!" We hugged, kissed, and he put the most beautiful ring on my finger. The center diamond is from my mother's wedding ring, and my dad, who owns a jewelry store, created it himself.
We thanked God for our relationship and enjoyed a nice meal, just the two of us in a big city where no one knew us. We looked at Christmas lights and called our parents. The next day, I had to leave for home. It was the most beautiful time we had together and our long engagement of one and a half years has been a gift to us: a time of growing in virtue, patience, mercy, understanding, love, and allowing for God to work within us and through one another.