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Keys to a Happy Arranged Marriage

February 13, 2001|PHIL McCOMBS | WASHINGTON POST

Remember that guy in Minnesota who advertised for a wife, had friends and relatives select from dozens of applicants and immediately married the winner at the Mall of America with 2,000 shoppers watching?

When they married on June 13, 1998, they had spoken to each other a total of five minutes.

I called David Weinlick the other day in Minneapolis. He sounded chipper, upbeat. 'We're doing marvelously!" he reported. "Things are pretty busy. I'm finishing a student-teaching program at a suburban high school. My wife, she's switched to nursing school, where she feels there's a better chance to enjoy helping others.

"We're also expecting a child in June, so you can see things are building up around here."

Has the arrangement worked?

"What you've got to be excited about is making it work, going through it. That's a lot of the reason we've been successful. We went into the marriage saying, "Hey, it's about commitment--to the other person, to being together.' Your love grows out of your commitment."

"Just last night we went out to a restaurant, and we found ourselves in tears laughing because we were just having such a good time together--just cracking each other up and having a great time."

His bride, Elizabeth Runze, was at school, so I called her the next day. "Did you hear what the due date for the baby is?" she asked enthusiastically. "June 13, our anniversary! That's turning out to be a very special day. It's magical."

I asked her how, and how much, they "work" at their marriage.

"It's not much work at all. It's the best relationship I've ever been in, but it's the most fun as well.

Wasn't it strange at first?

"The day we got married we had no relationship. Zero. Nothing!" she said. "But what we did have in common was the strong belief that what we were doing was going to work, and that bonded us very quickly. The feelings followed."

How do they handle conflict?

"We laugh. Seriously, that's the best approach to life, even when we don't feel that way inside. So when we approach a difficulty, it doesn't feel like a conflict--and that's a big difference."

They agree on Valentine's Day.

"David and I express love for one another every single day of the year," Elizabeth said, "so it's not different from any other day."

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