THERESA AND BRAD'S STORY - CHAPTER ONE: "43 FIRST DATES"

A shy musician? That's Brad. In fact, calling Brad "shy" is an understatement. That's why it took him 11 months to get the nerve to call Theresa after meeting her through a mutual friend.

"I'm really painfully shy," he says, "but I knew I needed to speak up. I couldn't let her go by."

Brad and Theresa 1

So 11 months after they met, Brad called to ask Theresa for a date. It was the first of 43 dates in ten weeks that culminated in a marriage proposal. Theresa accepted, and 45 days later, they married. That was 15 years ago. Today, they agree that "when you know, you know" but stress that "knowing" means more than falling in love with the idea of love.

So how did they know? Was it more than a shared interest in art? Definitely, they say. "I was in a band, on the road," Brad explains. "And you can imagine what goes on with musicians on the road." He says he made a covenant not to date until God directed him to the right girl. "I didn't even say more than 'hi, bye' to a girl for maybe three years and that's it. And then she came along."

"I did the same thing," says Theresa. "I didn't even wanna see anybody. I was just done with the whole dating thing, and I just wanted to focus on my faith and really get to know God more - get to know who I am through Him before I get to know anybody else." A year later, Brad came along.

Brad and Theresa 2

Despite different family backgrounds, the two share a strong belief in the commitment of marriage.  Brad's says parents are "like the Cleavers", still going strong.  Marital happiness was more elusive for Theresa's mother, now settled with her 5th husband of 16 years. "I think she's had to marry more out of survival sometimes," says Theresa. "And I think this last marriage has been real good. I really didn't know what a marriage was, I guess, what that picture looked like.  But, I knew when I was going to do it I was going to make sure it was with the right person and for the right reasons. I really cherish the vows...the formality of them. It's a commitment. We didn't believe in living with each other before we were married. We just believed in the marriage and the ideals of it."

Some might look at Brad and Theresa and say they jumped into marriage. After all, their entire courtship was a mere 20 weeks, not counting the 11 months between the first meeting and the first date. But Theresa says it comes down to one word: timing. "I probably gave him a hard time on the first date. I'm surprised he asked me for a second one, since he's really quiet and shy. And, I kind of interrogated him! But, after the fourth date, I was totally in love with him. I think he knew when the timing is perfect, bless his heart...and, he caught me.