With Valentine’s Day rapidly approaching, students often are forced to examine their relationships.
Instead of turning to chick flicks for direction, consider looking at a couple who, armed with witty banter and obvious affection, has lasted through all of the ups and downs entailed in a relationship.
Meet Tom and Elizabeth Truesdell, director of academic support and professor of biology, respectively. Their love story begins in the campus bookstore, when Elizabeth noticed Tom buying a book for a class that they were both in. Being a self-proclaimed “cheap Dutchman,” she asked if she could borrow it, and the friendship began with dating to follow.
Asked about dates that stood out in their relationship, the couple laughed and Elizabeth bashfully began a story of not only an awkward date, but a not-so-ideal first impression with Tom’s parents and a holiday in a hospital.
It all began on a ski trip to Colorado with the Truesdell family when another skier cut Elizabeth off. All seemed well after the accident until Elizabeth began to repeatedly ask Tom’s father about the tumble, cluing them in that something was amiss. She was rushed to the hospital and put into a medically-induced coma for a day to recover from brain damage.
Despite their first Thanksgiving together being spent in a hospital, their relationship flourished into a marriage. They attributed the success to a common work ethic, complementing interests and plenty of honesty.
The fact that they both work at Northwestern also gave them a unique edge as teachers. The couple admits to “comparing notes” on students they both taught, as well as recommending books to each other to improve their classes.
Students have also taken advantage of this relationship by seeking Tom’s help for pranks on Elizabeth, and checking the truthfulness of Elizabeth’s stories in class during tutoring sessions with Tom.
Deep relationships with students were cultivated outside of the classroom as well. Once, during a conversation with two students who babysat for them, the Truesdell’s threw out a McDreamy reference from “Can’t Buy Me Love,” a movie the couple deems “an ‘80s classic,” one which the students had never seen. One movie turned into several as the couple bonded with a growing number of students. These monthly “‘80s Movie Nights” included “Gremlins,” “Adventures of Babysitting” and “Sixteen Candles.”
So what advice does this couple offer to NW students, both married and in relationships? “Don’t try to play the game,” Elizabeth said. “Be honest so you know what you are getting into. Also, don’t be in a rush. It is easy to be anxious for the next step after meeting somebody and not enjoy the moment you are in. If it is intended to be a life-long relationship, the steps will come.”
As for married couples? “Use birth control!” Elizabeth said. “Kids change everything.”
It’s also important to continue to be yourself. “Leave room for individual growth,” Elizabeth advises. “Marriage doesn’t encompass all of who you are. You are still an individual.”