December 12, 2014

‘The biggest thing is we love each other’: Despite differences, couple supports each other through respect, love and patience

Jami Allee’s deepened faith and love for God have become the foundations for her marriage with her husband of 21 years, David. (Photo by John Shaughnessy)

Jami Allee’s deepened faith and love for God have become the foundations for her marriage with her husband of 21 years, David. (Photo by John Shaughnessy)

(One in a continuing series on marriage.)

By John Shaughnessy

Like most couples, Jami and David Allee have learned more than a few lessons about life and love during their 21 years of marriage.

They know that even the day-to-day routines of living are marked by challenges and celebrations.

They’ve come to understand there are times when their love and their faith will be tested. And there are moments when faith restores and deepens love—and love restores and deepens faith.

They’ve also learned that their marriage is a journey, sometimes taking them in directions they never expected.

“Our marriage is somewhat unusual because I am a Panamanian native married to an American,” Jami notes. “Our race is different. So are our languages, cultures and beliefs. I’m a cradle Catholic, and my husband does not practice any religion. We could not be more different.”

They met at a dance club, four years after she and her two sisters moved from Panama to Indianapolis in 1987 to learn English as a second language. It was a time in her life when she says, “I separated myself from the Church.” But there was no separation between her and David. Their relationship blossomed as she continued her education at Marian College (now Marian University) in Indianapolis. Right after she graduated in 1993, they were married.

“I was 23, and he was 24,” she says. “At first, we were not ready to have children, but after a number of years, we thought it was time.”

During that time, the couple took a vacation to New York City where they unexpectedly found themselves at one point in front of St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Stepping inside, they didn’t realize the visit would change their lives after Jami noticed a shrine to the Virgin of Guadalupe.

“I immediately went on my knees,” she recalls. “Perhaps very few times in my life have I prayed so fervently as I did on this day. My Catholic education had taught me that Mary could intercede for us. So I prayed that we may conceive. I knew I had to pray. We enjoyed the rest of our trip and returned home. To our surprise, six weeks later, I realized I was pregnant.”

Three years later, they visited New York and St. Patrick’s Cathedral again. Four weeks after praying in front of the shrine to the Virgin of Guadalupe again, Jami was expecting their second child.

Yet even with the love of her husband and the blessing of her children, she felt something missing in her life.

“God has always been present in my life. Unfortunately, I had not been present to Christ,” she recalls about that period. “I always felt very blessed. I was happy and enjoyed family life. Nonetheless, as the babies started to grow, I felt an emptiness in my heart, and my mind wondered why.

“I had a thought that maybe I should join a Bible study group to deepen my faith. I needed to understand better God’s word. I guess I was ready to listen. It was a calling to go back to mother Church.”

She joined a Bible study group at St. Joan of Arc Parish in Indianapolis. She and her children also became part of a mothers-and-children group there. Both experiences were so affirming that she became a member of the parish.

“It just felt right and, thankfully, it has given me plenty of opportunities to deepen my faith,” she says. “I have reached a place in my life where I have found the source of true happiness.”

David understands how much Jami’s faith means to her.

“I know it’s important to her,” he says. “And I have no problem going to church. I may not be a believer per se, but it’s a big part of Jami, so I’m there for her.

“The biggest thing is we love each other, and we like each other. We’re good friends. When we’re together, we’re happy. There are differences, but a lot of things click. When we met, I felt like I had met someone that I couldn’t let go.”

That feeling continues as they share their lives with their two children, Isabel, 13, and Sam, 9—students at St. Joan of Arc School.

Along the paths of her faith journey, Jami says she has been blessed by David’s “incredible caring and support.”

He has encouraged her volunteer efforts with the women’s group at St. Joan of Arc and with Birthline, the archdiocesan program that provides counseling services and material assistance for pregnant women in crisis and young mothers who have recently given birth.

She views those efforts as opportunities to draw closer to God.

“In getting to know God, I believe that he increases my capacity to love others. So I am more quick to forgive, serve and love others. At times, my heart cannot contain his generosity and abundant gifts of love. Even when times are hard, I wait with patience for the storm to pass.”

That faith comes from a commitment.

“It does require a ‘yes’ to God,” she says. “I finally understand that no matter who I am, God loves me first and totally. His love is eternal. I may fall many times in one day, but God is faithful to me.”

That deepened faith and love for God have also become foundations for her marriage.

“Although my husband and I do not share the same beliefs, we respect each other, and our marriage continues to grow as life continues to unfold. Perhaps in our differences, we have come to learn to practice patience with each other.

“To love one another is a decision that must be made daily. It is my greatest hope that if I may receive any grace, may it also be for my husband in this life and for eternity.” †


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