‘You need God to live the sacrament of marriage’
Aaron and Deena’s real-life romance
Aaron and Deena Decker’s story feels like a movie.
Boy meets girl, they become friends. A few years later, boy asks girl for a date. Before you know it, they fall in love. Cue the church wedding, the romantic honeymoon and, within a week, a baby on the way. You’ve probably seen some version of this a hundred times if you watch the Hallmark Channel.
What you may not have seen, however, is what happens between the lines of our most beloved romantic comedies. That’s where God’s love sustains their journey and molds individuals into couples.
Deena begins, “You have this expectation of a honeymoon phase. We didn’t have that at all.
“Our first year of marriage was really tough – especially learning to live together as a couple. Since college, I have always lived with others, so I was used to having someone to hang out with. I expected to be with Aaron all the time.”
Aaron’s eyes widen. “I was a bachelor, used to living alone and having my own time. All of a sudden, I had to share everything! That was a big adjustment for me. We bickered constantly.”
Deena continues, “On top of that, I was really sick during my first trimester. Morning sickness made it tough to do things I wanted for him and for our marriage. Then I had a difficult recovery and sleep deprivation once Evelyn was born.
“On top of this, we moved from an apartment into our house in Fenton. We had made a mutual decision that I would stay at home with our children. I was trying to learn how to be a parent and manage a new home without knowing anyone in our new community. Being a stay-at-home-mom was an adjustment for me.”
Aaron agrees. “While she was going through this, I was driving 40 minutes morning and evening to my sales job, then trying to navigate fatherhood and homeownership at night.” He sighs, “Marriage was really hard.
“We started attending Mass at St. John the Evangelist, and I read in the bulletin they were hosting something called Covenant of Love for married and engaged couples. I asked Deena if she’d like to go.”
“Our first time, we took Evelyn downstairs to the gym, where they were providing free child care,” Deena recalls. “Then we went upstairs, got name tags and walked into the room full of new faces. I remember popcorn and candy on the tables, drinks during the social hour and feeling nervous. I … I’m not really comfortable meeting people for the first time.
“We got our plates and sat down to eat with other couples. Then after dinner the leaders introduced a topic that brought marriage into the discussion around the tables. Before long, I was really enjoying myself. We’ve gone back many times.
“That first gathering opened the gate to helping us form friendships. The repetition of seeing the same people month after month made it easier for me to talk and get to know others.”
Aaron agrees. “That was how we started to get involved in the parish. We have helped other couples with baptism preparation. I coach our parish softball team, and Deena played until she got pregnant with Cassian.
Deena, cradling baby Cassian on her chest, quips, “Now I’m scorekeeper!”
Aaron continues. “We are active participants in our faith now. It’s who we are. It embodies our life.
“A few years ago, we attended a Marriage Encounter weekend here at St. John, and it was really powerful! They threw a bunch of stuff on the table for us to each write about and then discuss. We kept saying, ‘Oh yeah, that’s something we need to talk about!’
“Marriage really is hard. You need God to live the sacrament and to be at the center every day. Like, it’s really hard when Deena’s mad at me! She isn’t a yeller, so if she’s angry she’ll say, ‘You know what? I need a minute. I’m not going to be mad for a long time, but I need a minute now.’ That’s when I try to apologize and be quick to recognize the hurt she’s feeling.
“Without God and the grace of the sacrament, struggles can seem insurmountable. But with God at the center, marriage is wonderful and joyful, even in the struggles.”
Deena agrees. “After Evelyn, we lost two pregnancies – one at six weeks and one at eight weeks. Which was a surprise because we had her so quickly! We found a doctor who specializes in NaPro (Natural Procreative Technology), and she figured out that I have low progesterone. She helped us chart my cycle so we were able to conceive Cassian. Then she prescribed 36 weeks of progesterone shots to help the baby develop. Now Cassian is here, and Evelyn knows we have two little saints in heaven.”
Aaron gazes at Cassian sleeping to the beat of Deena’s heart. “God has been so good to us! He has swept us up and held us in a hug. I want Deena to see how much I love her and our children to know how much I love their mother.”
“I love our journey, seeing how God has taken us and changed our hearts! I genuinely enjoy being around you,” he tells Deena, “and I’m glad we have our faith to share – someone who knows our job is to help each other get to heaven.”
Deena looks over Cassian’s tiny head and says simply, “Right back at you, Babe.”
For resources to strengthen your marriage, visit dioceseoflansing.org/vocations/marriage-and-family-resources or contact your local parish.