By Seth Gonzales
The Texas Catholic
Thirteen years of marriage have convinced Steve and Elisa Low that faith and friendship are critical pieces of making theirs — or any marriage — a successful one.
“We kind of just fell backwards into dating, but I’m so glad that we had that friendship first,” Elisa said. “We started off actually knowing who the other person was and not trying just to impress them. Later on in our marriage, there were times when that friendship was all we had to fall back on.”
The two began developing that friendship while they were students at the University of Dallas. A year and a half after they met, they were engaged. Two weeks after Elisa graduated from UD, they were married. Steve was 22. Elisa was 21.
Though their academic careers were drawing to a close, their education was far from over; their own marriage became perhaps their most important teacher.
Shortly after they got married, the couple found out they were pregnant with their first child, Johanna. That meant Steve, who was trying to finish his senior year at UD, had to shift gears and support the family while finishing college.
“More important than my career aspirations were my marriage and family,” Steve said. “So from that perspective, when my [career] plan wasn’t coming true I felt like I had to step up to the plate and change what I was doing.”
His plan was to finish college with a degree in philosophy and immediately begin pursuit of a doctorate in sacred theology, with the intent of becoming a university professor. He graduated from the University of Dallas in Irving in 2005 after staying home with Johanna, then took a turn and entered the finance industry.
Then came another challenge. In 2007, Elisa was diagnosed with severe depression — something neither of them initially knew how to respond to.
As the couple began addressing the issue, Elisa said both began to more deeply understand the relationship between their marriage and their faith.
“Heaven is about being able to stand before God completely exposed and instead of feeling shame, feeling love and intimacy,” Elisa said. “Marriage is a vocation because it is the school where we learn how to do that. It’s where we learn how to actually let someone see us for who we really are and instead of feeling shame, we actually encounter intimacy and love.”
Today, Steve and Elisa are raising their four children, Johanna, Robert, Claire, and their youngest, John Paul. Elisa plies her trade as a seamstress, while Steve manages investments for Wells Fargo and is on the cusp of becoming a Chartered Financial Analyst.
“What is phenomenal to me about marriage is that we get an opportunity to learn about the unconditional love of God in so many different ways,” Steve said. “We go through all those experiences and we can see those as struggles to survive through or we can see those as ways in which God’s faithful love is manifested in that person and in ourselves.”
Editor’s note: This story is part of an ongoing series celebrating the Sacrament of Marriage.