When Heather Hite changed her name to Heather Denny, her world changed. I had met Heather a couple years earlier and knew that she was beautiful, magnetic, and ready for the future. But when her husband passed away, her world changed again. This young woman, just years out of high school was suddenly a widow.
Like many others in her situation, Heather thought she would never marry again. So when Dustyn Miller came into the picture, she was completely caught off guard. And when Heather Denny changed her name to Heather Miller, her world changed all over again. The couple got engaged and married in 2012 and are expecting their first child this year! Their story is an example for other couples approaching engagement and those looking to strengthen their marriage. Together they found a love that will last, based on a strong and carefully crafted foundation.
Here’s how they did it:
Ask the serious questions early.
Having already been married, Heather had a great perspective on the things that mattered most. Together, they weren’t afraid to ask deal-breaker questions up front because they knew what was at stake. They discussed things like dreams for the future, number of kids they each desired, faith backgrounds, and their pasts.
Don’t be afraid to get serious, because entering marriage is a serious decision! I had a mentor who told me if you can’t tell within the first 90 days of dating that you will someday marry that person, then you are asking the wrong questions.
If you’re already married, spend time asking the serious questions. I remember watching the joy my parents had learning things about each other 20 years into their marriage. Ben and I have that same joy as we continue our journey as best friends.
Embrace your spouse’s origin and all the things that make them who they are.
Dustyn knew Heather when she was in high school by her madien name – Heather Hite. One of the most profound things he said to her when they were dating captures this lesson. Dustyn told her, “I didn’t fall in love with Heather Hite. I fell in love with Heather Denny.” Never being married himself, it would be easy to want to turn back the clock and forget Heather’s life before. But he realized that she became a different – and better – person because of the time she had with her first husband.
Some things in our pasts are painful. But rather than erase them, we should celebrate the person our spouse is now because of the trial they went through. Avoid dwelling on the pain or mistakes. Instead, compliment your spouse on the character traits and maturity they gained through tough times – like compassion, wisdom, gentleness, strong work ethic, etc. Tell them you are proud of who they are today.
Constantly reassure each other of the depth of your love.
Not a day should pass without words of affirmation offered to each other. Entering marriage, I completely underestimated how much we both (especially my husband) needed to hear those words! Every phone call, every conflict, and every chance, shower your spouse with loving words that communicate your feelings.
Heather admitted she was scared of entering this marriage as a widow. Would she be able to reassure Dustyn of how much she wanted to be with him? Would he feel how deeply she cherished him? But as in every good relationship, BOTH gave it 100%. Together they offer reassurance of their commitment and feelings they have for each other.
Follow this link to watch Dustyn and Heather’s Love Story told on their wedding day.