Friday Feature Couple ~ Gina & Darren Sorrells
Russ and I met Gina & Darren through the 8 week Thrive group we lead twice a year. Joining a group of strangers is not easy for most people but this couple came in hungry to learn. And within 5 minutes we felt like long lost friends who finally caught up with each other. As much as they might have learned from us, we have been reminded what the early years felt like…the newness of forming a life together, building a family, being intentional, etc… Gina is a stay at home, who works on the side and Darren is an accountant who loves to dress up for Halloween! Sorry Darren, I couldn’t resist!
The fun part for us was Gina & Darren did Thrive twice! They loved the Thrive curriculum and how it guided their conversations to help discuss important matters in a way that kept them connected. We’re excited for you to meet this kind adorable couple who will disarm you with their transparency!
Q: How did you meet each other?
Q: How did your husband propose?
A: We were headed to CA for the national championship game…a REALLY long story. Flight got delayed – made it to Chicago, connecting flight was cancelled. Darren had the ring in his carry on and had a proposal scheduled for Saturday evening (we were supposed to get there Friday night.) Got on a morning flight that Saturday, which took us to Phoenix with a connecting flight to CA. In Phoenix Darren told me he had reservations for us – I’m thinking “oh how nice, some couple time before we’re with everyone for all the game festivities.” I never imagined he would bring the ring with him to CA.
We land in CA a couple hours before the “reservation,” I could tell he was anxious so I suggested bypassing the hotel check-in and driving straight to whatever this scheduled thing was. We had stayed the night in a hotel in Chicago, had no luggage, just a change of underwear and a shower but the same clothes from the day before.
We stopped at a Holiday Inn Express and I made that bathroom my own, changed clothes, did full make-up, curled my hair, etc. Darren of course was in and out in like 5 minutes…I thought I was listening out for him, but missed it!
We get to this marina with a couple restaurants and Darren walks over to this young kid waiting at the corner of a building and he leads us to a gondola ride! A nod to my Italian heritage. There was shrimp, cheese and crackers, fruit, drinks and Andrea Bocelli playing on the CD player. Then I started to wonder, oh my gosh is this it?!?!?
About half way through the ride around the marina he reached in his pocket and….pulled out a tissue. Since this was the first time we had relaxed in over 30 hours wondering if we’d ever make it to CA, I just thought okay, breathe and enjoy this time with the man I love.
So we’re almost back to the starting point and Darren asks me if I can move my feet over a little bit, which I do of course and then he gets down on his knee and says “You know I love you, and I want to spend the rest of my life with you. Will you marry me?”. To which I of course replied “Yes, yes, yes!”
Q: How long have you been married?
A: 4 years
Q: What was one thing that surprised you after you were married?
A: We were surprised that fighting is actually a good thing and can help strengthen and grow our marriage and who we are as a husband or wife. I (Darren) grew up never seeing my parents argue, so I assumed that represented the “model” marriage. Through Thrive, I’ve since learned that having disagreements is a natural part of a marriage. The key is to know how to manage those disagreements in a way that allows our marriage to come out stronger than before. Thrive provides tools to help us do just that.
Q: What’s one thing you do for your husband/wife everyday?
A: I cook all the meals and do the majority of cleaning and maintaining our home. Darren goes to work everyday and provides for us financially.
Q: What are you both really excited about?
A:We’re both really excited about getting to travel internationally with each other one day when we’re retired.
Q: Name a couple who inspires you?
A: Well duh, Russ and Danielle. The way they communicate and how they are self-aware of their wounds that cause anger and how to ask the questions to see where strong emotions originate. They have an ability to take responsibility, admit when they were insensitive or not empathetic and to apologize (whether they agree or not) and continually validate their spouse’s feelings. It’s quite an awesome thing to witness and to learn from every time we have the opportunity to spend time with them.
Q: Would you say that you love each other more now than earlier in our marriage?
A: Definitely. Sharing what we have, growing as we have and the things we have been through has given many more dimensions to the love we share. Becoming parents and watching each other with our daughter has given us a whole different arena in which we get to love each other and our little family. Some losses of loved ones, the most difficult being a miscarriage, brought us closer as we learned to pray together and be there for one another even when no words could help. The compassion we have learned to have for our wounds from the past have deepened the love we share.
Q: What worries you most about life?
A: For me it’s being good enough – good enough wife, mother, daughter, sister. For Darren, his biggest worries are financial – paying the bills, saving for Isabella’s college and funding retirement.
Q: Has your husband/wife helped you become more mature spiritually? In what ways?
A: Yes according to Darren – I signed him up for 7 and for round 2 of Thrive! For me, yes because trying to be the spouse God wants me to be has made me turn to God and pray more than I ever have.
Q: Does your husband/wife sometimes embarrass you? If so, how?
A: This is such a funny/silly embarrassment for me, but he will wear these shorts that have just about every color of paint he’s ever done work on his rental property with, they have many holes and these little strings that hang down that make it look like a skirt to me. He has some other decades old shirts I wish would find their way into the donation box as well!
Q: Is there anything about our physical love-making that you wish could be improved?
A: Darren’s response here was “the frequency.”
Q: Do you like the way he/she responds to your family? What could he/she do to improve?
A: I love the way Darren goofs around with my Mom and has funny little responses to her. He has good rapport with my stepfather and quirky older brother as well. For me (Darren), Gina fits in and gets along well with my family. It’s important to me that my spouse enjoys my family, and though we don’t get to spend as time with them as I would like. We all have a great time when we’re together.
Q: What do you most wish you both could do in the future to make an impact on our world for Christ?
Q: Are you hopeful about the future?
A: Yes. We are such newbies in the world of marriage, we have so much to learn, so much opportunity to grow as spouses and a couple, so many new adventures to take on and we hopefully will have the opportunity to grow our family even more.
Q: Does it bother you that he’s/she’s growing older? If so, in what ways?
A: Nope, the alternative is really not what we want of course. We try to focus on the fact that we are blessed with the gift of aging. I would say we are more vain about some of the physical changes we are each undergoing, but only self-critical, not of each other. Darren doesn’t love having to have a nose and ear hair trimmer or that his arms are all of a sudden not long enough to read things. I don’t love that I’m now more gray than any other color and will forever have to color my hair…the memo got lost on making me a natural redhead. Aches and pains and physical abilities (we were both always rather athletic) have lessened along with our endurance, which can be frustrating.
Q: What do you see in the character of Christ that you most wish were in you as well?
A: Patience – we both have the same answer for this one. We both want to know why, when, where, how and we want to know now. The answers usually do not come in our timing, they come in God’s timing. Geesh, that can be soooo frustrating, seriously, what is He waiting for???
Q: Did you go through the Thrive curriculum? If so, describe your experience.
A: We’re actually going through Thrive for a 2nd time! We both find that while some of the material leads to uncomfortable conversations, we understand the value the curriculum provides in our marriage. Being four years into our marriage, we’ve evolved past the infatuation stage, so the little things we may have ignored in the past can tend to bother us more now. Thrive provides practical tools we can use to handle those things, and luckily for us, we discovered Thrive “only” four years into our marriage and can therefore use those tools to continue to enhance our relationship with one another.
Q: What are your thoughts about counseling? Do you and your spouse go?
A: We do not go to counseling, but I find the knowledge that Russ and Danielle have gained through counseling (and then share with our Thrive group) to be fascinating. While we have no immediate plans to enroll in counseling, the benefit is very clear and is something I think we would consider at the right time.
Q: What’s one piece of advice you would share with someone before getting married?
A: For me (Darren), I would share to expect conflict but to also understand that conflict (and conflict resolution) can actually lead to a stronger marriage.