From boy-crazy to boy mom, Paula (Hendricks) Marsteller’s life has changed a lot in a few years.
In 2013, Paula published the book Confessions of a Boy-Crazy Girl: On Her Journey from Neediness to Freedom, sharing her story of learning to trust God with her love life.
The last thing she expected was that God would use this book to introduce her to her future husband. Trevor was a blogger at the time, and they began to message each other after he wrote a review of her book.
Eventually, Trevor visited her in Michigan, and their friendship turned into a long-distance relationship. In April 2015, Trevor proposed, and Paula moved to New York.
Today, they’ve been married for more than four years and are raising two young boys. I asked Paula to share some advice because of her experience with long-distance dating and her perspective on the risk of romance becoming an idol.
Just like in her book, Paula is authentic and relatable. I think you’ll appreciate the wisdom she has to offer those in long-distance relationships.
How did you grow in your relationship with God while you were in a long-distance relationship?
In the same ways I had while single—by digging into God’s Word daily and communicating with Him through prayer—though definitely in a more distracted state!
I was also challenged to search the Scriptures and reconsider some beliefs I’d always held, as Trevor had differing views and more freedoms than I was used to—specifically when it came to drinking alcohol. Another biggie was his understanding of how to discern God’s will, which was quite different from mine, but has resulted in much greater freedom in my life. If you’d like to read more on this, here are some posts on decision making.
Trevor has also been such a tangible picture of God’s steadfast love for me, even when the ugliness of my sin has been laid bare.
How did the two of you manage conflict and communication?
I think it’s hard to have conflict when you’re long-distance, because you’re not actually doing life together as two unique individuals with very different ideas for how to do things.
I don’t think we actually had conflict until we were in person—first on visits, a bit more when I moved to Syracuse, and even more after we married and had to work through how to manage a household and life together.
An escalation in conflict as you spend more time together in person isn’t necessarily a bad thing; I think it’s realistic. It’s only bad if you can’t figure out how to communicate and resolve conflict together—something you’ll need to continue to work at long after you marry.
How did you make the decision to move to the city where Trevor lived before you were married?
We were older, we knew we were intentionally moving toward marriage, and we wanted some time to observe each other doing life on a daily basis. It just seemed like a good idea to be close enough to see how the other navigated dynamics like family, flat tires, and stress when considering something as serious as marriage.
Trevor was committed to his city and church, so I knew that if we were to marry, I would be living in his city. I understood I would face a ton of change all at once if I married him, so I wanted to get a jumpstart on things like building new friendships, getting involved in his church, and learning my way around a new city. I figured it would be change enough to dive into my brand-new role as a wife without navigating all these other changes at the same time.
Also, Trevor had a good job in New York, and my workplace was flexible, allowing me to work off-site. And, a kind couple from his church agreed to open their home to me. So, a few days after Trevor asked me to marry him, I followed the yellow moving truck he was driving from Michigan to New York.
(If you’d like to read more about this decision as well as some important questions to ask if you’re considering a move, check out this post.)
What advice would you give to someone just starting a long-distance relationship?
- Keep pursuing God as Your highest good and deepest delight.
- Don’t ditch your friends and regular priorities/responsibilities in order to talk with your boyfriend 24/7.
- When you do talk to him, plan intentional, serious questions to ask him.
- Visit your boyfriend in person several times, and ask probing questions of his friends and family, candidly asking them not to hold anything back from you.