From the wedding day to year 40 and beyond, marriage is a journey marked with both happiness and hardships. Here two member couples share their unique stories.
Demetra and Carlyn: Year 13
Their story began in a sixth-grade classroom. It was 1991 and Carlyn Sherer had moved from Chicago to come live with his dad in Tupelo, Miss.
In high school, friendship blossomed into love. By senior year, Demetra and Carlyn were expecting their first child. They welcomed daughter Alayjah in 1998 and were married two years later.
“It was a big hurdle,” says Carlyn. “We both had dreams of going away to college, but God had other plans.”
When the going gets rough
In 2001, Carlyn enlisted in the Air Force and the young family relocated to Tampa, Fla. Their luck took a turn for the worse when Carlyn was diagnosed with leukemia later that year. But he soon went into remission, and the Sherers started to build a new life for themselves.
In November 2005, Demetra’s mother, aunt and 16-year-old brother were killed in a head-on collision. Demetra was nine months pregnant at the time.
“That took a lot out of us. We stopped for a moment and just looked at life differently,” says Carlyn.
The family relocated once again – this time, to North Carolina – to make a fresh start. But Carlyn lost his job, leaving them financially devastated and nearly homeless. So Demetra and Carlyn did the only thing they could think of. They went home.
Back on track
“I was against it at first,” admits Carlyn, “but we’ve been back for three years now and I can honestly say it was a good move for us. Tupelo is a great place to raise kids.”
After Demetra and Carlyn found employment (Carlyn is a postal carrier, Demetra works at the Convention and Visitors Bureau), they made financial stability their number one priority.
“I grew up in a family that spent more than saved – so did Carlyn,” says Demetra. “We had some insurance through our jobs, and we considered ourselves to be OK. We weren’t.”
With help from Modern Woodmen representative Robert Hall, the Sherers built a solid financial foundation based on cash-flow management, life insurance and retirement savings. The life they’ve envisioned – traveling, early retirement and a college education for their daughters – is now within reach. And they’re free to focus on what really matters: their marriage and their family.
“We’ve grown as parents. We’ve grown in our relationship. And we’ve grown financially,” says Carlyn.
Mike and Patricia: Year 40
Mike Wittig, Waupun, Wis., was so in love with his wife that he married her three times.
On Jan. 27, 2013, in front of 250 family members and friends, Mike and Patricia renewed their vows for the second time. It was the couple’s 40-year wedding anniversary.
Three weeks later, Mike held his wife’s hand as she passed away in her sleep.
For better or worse
They were married on Jan. 27, 1973, and started a family soon after. First a daughter, followed by a son. In 1981, more in love than ever, Mike and Patricia renewed their vows for the first time.
Fast forward to Christmas 2010. Patricia’s doctor finds a lump in her breast, and it’s cancer. She’s 55 years old.
After a lumpectomy and eight months of treatment, things start to look up. But before long, the cancer spreads to her gallbladder, liver, lymph nodes and spine. Doctors tell Patricia she has 18 month left to live.
Until death do us part
“When we received her diagnosis of being terminal, we changed everything from the honey-do list to the bucket list,” says Mike. “We traveled, spent time with our children and grandchildren, and enjoyed each day we had left.”
“We prepared for our journeys together, knowing she would have to leave, and I would have to stay.”
They exercised the Accelerated Benefits Rider on Patricia’s life insurance certificate to help fund items on their bucket list. Mike, a Modern Woodmen financial representative, finished planning for the couple’s estate and they were able to share elements of their estate with loved ones before Patricia passed away.
“We both knew prior to her passing that I would be taken care of financially,” says Mike. “Having this knowledge allowed us to spend her last year on earth together without financial worries.”
In August 2012 the couple celebrated Patricia’s 57th birthday at Niagara Falls. Over a romantic dinner on the seventh floor of the Sheridan Hotel, overlooking the falls, Patricia asked Mike to marry her one last time.
His answer, of course, was yes.
Financing the future
Financial planning tips for couples
- Define your goals. Where do you see yourself in five years? Ten years? Twenty years? Do you want to purchase a new home? Save for your child's college tuition? Travel in retirement? Talk to your spouse and together write down your goals. Once you know where you want to go, you can begin to figure out how to get there.
- Accept reality. "Death is not a what-if, it's a when," says Mike Wittig, Modern Woodmen financial representative. "When you marry someone, you have a responsibility to make sure they'll be taken care of when you're gone." You can honor your commitment to your spouse by having adequate life insurance protection to help cover final expenses, mortgage payments and other financial obligations.
- Think short- and long-term. Create a plan for today (cash-flow management and savings) and a plan for tomorrow (retirement savings and estate planning).
- Review your plan every year. An annual review with your Modern Woodmen financial representative can help ensure you're on the right track.