Voice of the Notre Dame Prep Saints

The Seraphim

Relationship advice from NDP teachers

Megan Rakers, Staff Writer

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Thousands of factors can destroy a relationship. Small arguments, unrealistic expectations, and uncontrollable events can lead to break-ups and even divorces.

Love is the glue that pulls us together, but it seems to commonly wear down over time. So what makes a relationship last? What keeps that glue strong and keeps people together?

According to NDP teachers in long-term and new relationships, the key to a lasting relationship is a mix of faith, self-sacrifice and perseverance.

Mr. and Mrs. Gjerstad on their wedding day. Photo: Leslie Gjerstad.

Mrs. Gjerstad

Mr. Bruce Gjerstad and Mrs. Leslie Gjerstad – both teachers – have been married for 34 years. “People always tell us how impressive that is, but to us it’s just the norm,” said Mrs. Gjerstad, NDP’s director of Christian Service Learning.

She and her husband first met when she was working a second job at a Best Western Reservation Center. She was in the middle of making a reservation for a customer when her computer crashed. “He was walking by and he stopped and said ‘I can fix that!’.”

According to Mrs. Gjerstad, they started talking when they passed in the hallways and then began spending their breaks together, “and the rest was history.”

Mr. and Mrs. Gjerstad on their 34th anniversary. Photo: Leslie Gjerstad.

In Mrs. Gjerstad’s opinion, the factor in their marriage that has allowed it to be as strong and long-lasting as it is has been is a strong sense of faith. “Our marriage has always been three — me, my husband, and God,” she said.

She recommends faith as the most important factor for all couples trying to create a lasting relationship. She added that, “I’ve noticed that those couples who’ve had religious ceremonies seem happier.”

Other factors that can contribute to how long a marriage lasts include marriage preparation. According to Mrs. Gjerstad, it’s a chance to “talk about things you need to talk about before you enter into marriage, since once you get married, there’s no turning back.”

“Of course,” she added, “A good sense of humor helps, too.”

Mrs. Martinez

Mrs. Sheila Martinez, social studies teacher at NDP, has been married to her husband, Larry Martinez, for 28 years, but she’s known him for 34.

She met him at ASU, when they were both pledging to the same fraternity. “I saw him at a Valentine’s Dance,” she said, “and I thought: ‘That’s the man I’m going to marry.’”

In Mrs. Martinez’s opinion, what makes a relationship last is a refusal to give up on each other. “You need to understand that you can’t change people, you can only change yourself,” she said. “And always remember why you fell in love with them in the first place.”

Mr. Coast

Mr. Thomas Coast, Theology teacher at NDP, met his wife, Amber, in grad school at the University of Notre Dame. She works as Director of Youth Ministry at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic School. The two were married just a few weeks ago, on Oct. 8, 2016.

Mr. and Mrs. Coast on their wedding day. Photo: Thomas Coast.

Though he hasn’t been married long, Mr. Coast has a good idea as to what makes a relationship last. In his opinion, the most important factor is a willingness to sacrifice.

“You have to be okay with trading something you might want to do for something she wants to do,” he said.

As a newlywed, he’s also received boundless advice about how to make his marriage as successful as possible. One such piece of advice that he plans to take to heart is “to celebrate the little things in life.” With time, the novelty of the relationship will wear off and that’s when it’s necessary to “appreciate the day-to-day stuff.”

Additionally, Mr. and Mrs. Coast have a strong faith life, with both currently employed at Catholic schools. And for their honeymoon, the newlyweds will be going to Rome and getting their marriage blessed by the Pope.

Through mutual self-sacrifice, faith in God, and an appreciation for the small things, a relationship can survive the test of time.

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Voice of the Notre Dame Prep Saints
Relationship advice from NDP teachers