When they stood at the altar in 1985, Ken and Tamalyn Peterson vowed to love each other through sickness and health. They never could have understood the depth of that promise or the bleak diagnoses that the future held.
It began with a tremor in her pinky. But Tammy quickly realized that the involuntary movement and frequent shaking was something she couldn’t control. After years of frustrating doctor visits, she finally received the diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease.
Like most degenerative diseases, it gradually worsened over time, slowly taking away everyday comforts and independent activities. First her morning routine. Then her driver’s license. Even her job. But one thing she’s never lost? The love of her husband.
Ken will admit that he didn’t really know what love was when he stood at that altar thirty four years ago. Because He didn’t know God. God is the very definition of love. He is selfless, patient, kind, and everything they needed to understand what love truly was.
“Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” 1 John 4:8
As Ken and Tammy’s love for God grew, so did their love for each other. And it was exactly the kind of love that they needed to fulfill their promise to each other through sickness and health. Today their marriage is an inspiring example of how God’s love is more than enough for anything we face in this lifetime. Tammy shares their story below.
Describe your husband in three words.
Kind. Loyal. Hard worker. Those are all qualities of a good caregiver. And when I say he is a good caregiver, that’s an understatement.
I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease after battling the effects for nearly twenty years. And ever since, he has taken care of me without complaining. His loyalty in midst of my disease is a major part of our love story.
How did you and your husband meet?
Working at K-mart in 1983. I worked on the floor and he was a maintenance worker.
Who was interested first?
He was leaving work for the day. I was collecting time cards. They had a policy where you would punch out and the greeter would collect timecards at the door. That’s when we first met. Our first date was at the drive-in theatre to see Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark. He knew I was the one within two weeks, and he asked me to marry him. I said… in two years, maybe.
What qualities about your husband made your realize he was marriage material?
He was interesting and sincere. He always treated me well. Even though we weren’t following God at the time, we were raised with the knowledge of right and wrong. And, I was actually looking for a lot of the Christian virtues in a man without realizing it.
What was your favorite detail of your wedding day?
My Aunt Carol made lace fans for us to carry down the aisle. They were crocheted with flowers for all the bridesmaids. I had mine for years until it finally fell apart.
What’s your best advice to young women in dating relationships?
Be who you are. Don’t change for another person. Have fun, and don’t make it so complicated.
What’s your best advice for those pursuing sexual purity?
It’s an action. It’s a choice. You have to decide ahead of time what you are and aren’t going to do. Instead of Nike’s saying “Just do it,” tell yourself “Just don’t do it.”
What has been your biggest lesson in marriage?
Listening. Really listening. When your spouse is talking, you need to pay attention to what they are saying. We also learned to be patient. We were often short with each other when we first got married (and sometimes still are), but we had to learn how to be patient with each other.
How do you keep God the focus of your relationship?
We stay close to God through Bible study and prayer which isn’t something we learned until later in marriage. When we got married, God was not the center of our marriage. But we realized that God was exactly what we needed to keep us together all of these years.
FOLLOW OUR SERIES #TRUELOVESTORIES
We interviewed some of our favorite couples to ask them what true love looks like. And we are so excited to introduce these stories to you. True love exists, and it’s worth the wait. #truelovestories #acrossmyheart