Sam and I both love being productive. Most of the time this is a good thing. I greatly dislike the thought of wasting time, so I am always looking for something to do to fill every bit of time. If I watch a movie with my family or friends, I must have something to knit or crochet, laundry to fold, or some other small task to do. I always bring yarn, a book, or my journal on long car rides. If I can listen to an audio book while doing something with my hands (like knitting) it is even better! Sam is the same way, as he loves to listen to audio books while running or cooking. Sam’s brother and best man in our wedding, Abe, gave a speech at our reception, and he talked about how Sam always wants to be productive; he always wants to be moving and doing something. There have been times when someone has told me to slow down, that it’s okay to “just be with people” and not feel like I must be doing something productive (but Mama always reminds me that being with people and building relationships is productive). This is true, and I hope we are always able to keep this perspective (or be reminded by others) and use our love for productivity and busyness to help others.
We also both love to learn. While my love for academic learning is perhaps not as strong as Sam’s, I thoroughly enjoyed the privilege of learning from so many wonderful professors at Florida College. I looked forward to writing papers or learning in class, but I always said I would enjoy college so much more without tests (but I have come to appreciate tests a bit more). Even outside of academia Sam and I both enjoy reading and learning on our own, from subjects like running or diet to methods of learning languages.
Since we both love being productive and we both enjoy learning, it is not surprising that both of these things have been present throughout our relationship. The summer after we started dating, while Sam was preaching in Ohio and I was at home in Mississippi, we would talk on the phone every night. One night a week we would study the Bible, and another night we would discuss whatever book we had decided to read together, including Walden and Machiavelli’s The Prince, and we attempted Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nation. We also decided to do some research on our own and write essays for each other each week, to kill two birds with one stone in a sense. We would research for one paper, but learn from two.
After we got engaged and Sam left for Romania, we got into a schedule of talking on FaceTime every morning. We usually had plenty to talk about, but we enjoyed learning together and wanted to continue doing so. We ended up making a schedule with a different subject for each day to discuss and learn together. We would always spend part of the time talking about “normal things,” things going on in our lives or various random subjects and questions to ask each other, and then we would get into the topic for the day.
Typically, on Mondays we would study marriage. We had a list of books various people recommended to us, and each time we would read a chapter and think of questions to ask each other or important points to bring up. Tuesdays were devoted to learning the Romanian language, and on Wednesdays we studied the Gospel of Luke. On Thursday we discussed another book we decided to read (the latest was Gretchen Rubin’s Better Than Before), and on Fridays we studied marriage with Sam’s dad. We also found time to learn together about running, eating healthy, Greek, and various different topics in the Bible or different ideas that were on our minds. Some days we would begin talking about something different and we would just spend our time discussing whatever the relevant issue was, not worrying about studying our specific subject for the day.
I have heard the advice many times to spend time with your significant other in a variety of situations to get to know who they really are. I definitely agree with this, and Sam and I were blessed to have many different opportunities to be together in several different settings. However, being in a long distance relationship can make this somewhat difficult. Although talking on the phone or through FaceTime cannot compare to being together in different situations, I felt like being able to discuss so many different subjects helped us see each other in slightly different settings and bring up topics to learn each other’s opinions on certain things. When we studied the Bible I got to learn how Sam studied and how he came to certain conclusions. This also gave us the prompt to talk about a multitude of different spiritual topics and issues. Studying marriage had similar effects; we learned each other’s love language and what makes each other feel respected or loved. In reading books together we learned of each other’s opinions and points of view on various subjects. Studying together was very productive—we learned both new and interesting information, and we learned more about each other.
After we were married and got to see each other every day, we stopped all of our studies except for our Bible study (we finished Luke and now we are studying Acts). However, now that we are getting settled in our own apartment in Romania, we began scheduling different times we could discuss various things like before. We still have a list of books we want to read together, and we never quite finished our list of recommended marriage books (although we have both expressed that we would like to reread the ones we read before since we are married now and have a new perspective). We currently have on our schedule to study Acts, read about marriage, and read a couple other books on our list.
We will probably not be able to set aside time every single day to study together now, and someday we may will no longer have the time to study together so much or so often. But for now, we are enjoying the opportunity of doing some of the things we love, being productive and learning, together.
~ Julie Peters