Newlywed couple acknowledges they’re more different than they first supposed
She’s from Sacramento. He’s from Spokane. She likes to plan ahead. He is more spur-of-the-moment. He favors ethnic foods. She likes more traditional flavors.
Even though it would be easy to let divisions pull them apart, Nate and Morgan Olson have learned their marriage is best when they make differences work for them — not against them.
“When we got engaged we thought we were alike, but then we got married and realized it was different,” says Nate, 29. “I think that we realize we should look at differences as a strength in our marriage.”
For the Olsons, coming to terms with each other’s likes and dislikes has been one of the major adjustments of married life — an adjustment they didn’t really see coming.
After all, they fell in love while involved in a common activity: the BYU International Folk Dance Ensemble. Morgan was a folk dancer; Nate played the fiddle in the band. They started as casual acquaintances, and their association with the ensemble eventually made them good friends. But it wasn’t until they spent 10 days sitting beside each other on a bus during a mid-semester tour that
their friendship moved to the next level.
“We had a lot of the same interests,” says Morgan, 22. “We could talk for hours.”
The couple started dating seriously in April 2003, shortly after returning from the tour. By August they were engaged and on Nov. 7, 2003, they married.
Like many young couples, adjusting to their first year of married life meant figuring out how to make decisions together.
“I’m a planner — even if it doesn’t work out, I like to have an idea,” Morgan says. “When we first got married, I tried to ask Nate about where we would be in the next six months.”
As a self-described impromptu planner, Nate had no idea what to tell her. At 29, he had already received a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in music and was teaching fiddle at BYU. When they got married, Morgan was finishing a degree in therapeutic recreation and Nate wasn’t sure what direction to take his career. A year later, he is still unsure of his career but his indecision no
longer bothers her.
“It’s fine,” she says with a smile. “I’ve become a lot more settled with that. Basically what it comes down to is wait it out and see.”
Nate adds, “We have the same end goal in mind — that I will do something that I love and
I will be able to provide for our family.”
While Morgan has adapted to Nate’s impromptu ways, her structured mind has helped him work through future possibilities.
“I think Morgan and I have gotten pretty good at talking things out,” Nate says. “She is reflective with me and asks the right questions. She doesn’t just let me sit around. She is really supportive of me taking risks and doing things that aren’t really conventional.”
The give-and-take relationship they’ve developed this past year makes it easier to resolve conflict.
At the beginning of their marriage, disagreements often meant long periods of silence as they tried to work through problems individually.
Morgan would usually turn quiet to avoid confrontation, while Nate would continually prod her to find out what was wrong.
They eventually pinned down the cycle and learned to stop it before it started.
“It’s taken a while for us to trust each other enough to talk when we’re angry,” Nate says.
“I realize that I can be honest with him and he’s not going to overreact. He’s going to listen,” Morgan says.
Their willingness to adapt to each other’s personalities and overlook individual weaknesses has strengthened their commitment to one another.
“You come to love people when you sacrifice for them,” Nate says. “If I want to feel more love for Morgan, I have to make more sacrifices. We realize we’re at the beginning of that ‘great love.’”
Nate and morgan olson
Nate, 29; Morgan, 22
Married for 1 year
How they make decisions together
• Morgan’s learned to accept Nate’s ‘wait-and-see’ attitude
• They talk about every decision and examine decisions from all angles
• Morgan lends support by asking the right questions and offering insight
How they deal with money
• Both are money-conscious after putting themselves through school
• They avoid extravagant spending habits
What makes their marriage work?
• Willingness to adjust to their partner’s wants and needs
• Making sacrifices for each other
• Practicing open communication
• Viewing differences as a strength, not a weakness