How to Love Well

Cedars gets relationship advice from married professors on campus

by Paolo Carrion

Drs. Donald and Margaret Grigorenko

The Grigorenkos call themselves “Team G.” Ever since they were in high school, they’ve been on the same team, working together.

“Most of our lives we operated in the same world,” Donald said.

This wasn’t an accident. The two purposely made decisions that would allow them to work together.

Donald and Margaret first met in high school, and at one point they both served as counselors in a band camp. During that time, Donald shared the gospel with Margaret.

“I came to Christ, and he’s been doing a long-term follow-up project ever since,” Margaret said.

Margaret said she never planned on getting a Ph.D.

“But once he got into the college thing I was like ‘Oh! Well, better get my Ph.D. so I can work at the same university,’” she said.

The two started dating in college and got married while Margaret was still a student. Between the two of them, they have attended five different colleges for their various degrees.

They have been married for 39 years and have four kids, all of whom attended Cedarville, and eight grandchildren.

While they enjoy working at the same university together, there are some downsides. It’s easy to bring work home and have their job dominate their conversations. To counter the habit of constantly talking about work, the Grigorenkos came up with a policy.

“We drive home and we hit a county line. So we’re allowed to talk about work until we hit the county line,” Margaret said.

Once they cross that line, they’re not allowed to talk about work anymore.

According to them, there are three sides to making a relationship work.

“Building a great relationship includes the romantic side, but also the best friend side, and there’s also the team side,” Margaret said.

Together they’ve written papers, spoken at national conferences, and published different writings. They also served as missionaries for nine years in Nepal.

“That’s what makes relationships last, when you’re all working and pulling in the same direction.”

Drs. Kevin and Lynn Roper

The Ropers first met in 1989 but didn’t start dating until 15 years later.

They first met as graduate students at the University of Kentucky. Lynn was trying to test out of a math class, and a mutual friend suggested that Kevin, who was working toward a Ph.D. in mathematics, could help.

But the two didn’t start dating just then, and they didn’t get married until 2010.

After UK, Lynn started teaching and lost touch with Kevin, who was still at the university.

Kevin had told Lynn that his goal was to go back to Jamaica and teach there. So years later that’s where Lynn assumed he was.

In 2005, Lynn happened to see a picture of Kevin in the alumni magazine for the University of Kentucky. So she emailed him to say hi.

Kevin responded and included his phone number in the email.

“And then she called,” Kevin said.

“No,” Lynn corrected. “Then I gave you my contact information.”

Though she was thinking the two would just be friends, she “thought that the guy should be the one to call,” Lynn said. They dated long-distance for five years and got married in 2010. Three weeks later, Lynn started teaching special education at Cedarville. Even though they both work at Cedarville and have offices just down the hall from each other, their work schedules don’t usually overlap.

“We often never see each other on campus,” Kevin said. “Just at home.”

The first time Lynn taught a class, the students were expecting to see her husband, because the class description only named the professor as “Dr. Roper.”

“I walk in and they’re like, ‘Oh! We’re so glad you’re not your husband,’” she said.

“Lynn is a very encouraging professor,” Kevin said. “Don’t expect that from me. I’ll help you, but I’m not gonna say ‘nice try,’ I’m gonna say ‘no that was wrong, let’s try again.’”

“I’m much nicer,” Lynn said with a wink.

In relationships, God can use differences in personality as blessings, they said. For example, Kevin is a morning person, and Lynn is not. So Kevin can get his introvert time early, and when he leaves to teach his morning classes Lynn gets some time to herself.

It’s also vital to trust in God’s plan, they said. The Ropers got married 20 years after college and haven’t regretted it.

“If God brings the right one during college — great,” Lynn said. “But if He doesn’t, trust His timing.”

Drs. Darren and Ashley Holland

Before Dr. Kevin Roper reconnected with his future wife, he was giving dating advice to a young junior-year student, Darren Holland.

“Dr. Roper said I should ask [Ashley] out,” Darren said.

He didn’t know at the time that Dr. Roper was also talking to Ashley, convincing her to give Darren a chance.

“And it all worked out. I’m so glad he gave us that advice,” Ashley said.

Darren and Ashley first met as freshmen in Cedarville during the Getting Started weekend, and now they’ve been married for eight years.

Both Dr. Hollands have offices in the ENS. Darren teaches mechanical engineering and Ashley teaches mathematics. Sometimes they’ll have the same students in their classes. “They call me ‘Mrs. Dr. Holland’ and him ‘Mr. Dr. Holland’ so they can differentiate who they’re talking about,” Ashley said.

Because their offices are in the same building, it’s easy for them to visit each other during the work day. And since their subjects are similar, they easily understand each other’s work.

Sometimes, though, it can be difficult to get away from work. Just asking each other how their day went can turn into another conversation about their jobs.

“We talk a lot about math, engineering, and teaching,” Ashley said.

“Good thing we enjoy those,” Darren laughed.

Many Cedarville students have a ring-by-spring mentality, which the Hollands say is not a healthy mindset. They remember seeing classmates graduate, distraught that they hadn’t found a spouse.

“It’s not the end of things if you don’t get married by the end of Cedarville,” they said. “There is life after Cedarville.”

Dr. Lyle and Prof. Connie Anderson

The Andersons started dating at Cedarville although they did not meet there.

The couple, who have been married for 45 years, first met in Spokane, Washington. Lyle, then a Cedarville student, was visiting Connie’s church while on a tour. She was still in high school at the time.

“I told him I would never come to Cedarville,” she said.

She went to Cedarville. “The Lord had to be laughing,” Connie said.

Their mutual love for music helped them get to know each other. Connie was Lyle’s accompanist for his voice lessons, and their first date was Lyle’s senior recital.

Both of their children, Eric and Lori, graduated from and met their spouses at Cedarville.

Eric is currently serving as the Pastor of Worship Arts at College Park Church in Indianapolis. He and his wife, Heather, have three daughters, Heidi, Ellie and Anna. Lori, the Andersons’ youngest, graduated from Cedarville with an Education degree and went on to get a Ph.D. in Professional Counseling. Lori and her husband, David, have two children, Jenna and Josiah.

When in a relationship, they say it’s important to trust God’s timing and to remember to have fun.

Something as simple as going to the grocery store on a date night out can be fun, they said.

“Enjoy the years of courtship,” Lyle says to students. “Or dating,” Connie quickly added.

Dr. Thomas and Prof. Amy Hutchison

The Hutchisons said they both see Cedarville as a ministry they can share together.

The two first met while Tom was in seminary and Amy was in college. They traveled together as part of a ministry team.

“We waited a while to start dating because we didn’t want to be one of those ‘ministry couples,’” Tom laughed.

They’ve been married for 32 years and have three kids who all graduated from Cedarville.

Their sons, Tommy and Joel, graduated with degrees in youth ministries and mechanical engineering, respectively. Their youngest, Danielle, just graduated last spring with a degree in music.

“It’s been fun for us. For the last 10-12 years we’ve had a student in college here,” Thomas said.

He was Tommy’s advisor and taught him in five classes. The Hutchisons live three minutes away from campus, and often have students and their kids’ friends over for parties.

Amy teaches piano, and Tom teaches theology of worship, so they will often have the same students in their classes. They enjoy investing in these students and see it as a shared ministry.

“Coming to the university allowed us to still do ministry together,” Amy said. “That’s probably one of the things we enjoy the most about working at the same place.”

For over 20 years Tom and Amy have worked with the Fit To Be Tied ministry, designed for engaged or seriously dating couples on campus. They said almost 1,000 couples have gone through the program. It’s important for a couple to have shared values, they said. For the Hutchisons, their shared value is ministry. They miss the church ministry they used to do but are enjoying ministering to college students now.

“It’s a privilege and a gift to do that together,” Tom said.

Paolo Carrion is a freshman journalism major and writer for Cedars. He enjoys drinking hot chocolate, reading comic books and making animal crackers watch as he devours their family. 

All photos provided by the respective couples. 


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