Published on Wednesday, 30 November -0001 00:00
By Natalie Miller Rotunda
Correspondent Before Tanya Stevens found Bob, her life's mate, she'd been a single mother for 14 years. Her life was busy rearing Tianna, her only child, and working, usually 70
hours a week. The New Ulm native wasn't the kind of person who went to bars looking to meet people. Instead, she met people online, in chat rooms. That's how she and Bob met. They were online pen pals before they physically met each other. Early on in their out-of-the-ordinary relationship, they'd established open lines of communication. "We knew each other before we met," she says. "We could talk about anything with each other." Tanya had quite a few online pen pals. So, when she hadn't heard from Bob for three months, she chalked it up to his just having moved on. She removed his name from her buddy list. But Bob hadn't forgotten Tanya. In fact, the next time she heard from him, he was ready to go beyond their online talks, and finally meet one another. She took the next step and phoned him. "We made a date to go to the Chanhassen Dinner Theatre." Then doubts crept in and Tanya cancelled her date with Bob, not once, but several times. "I was so nervous about meeting him," she says now. "My daughter told me, 'Mom, just go out with him.' So, I did!" The couple dated for the next six months. It was a wonderful time of discovery and sharing common interests. One of them was their mutual love for ice fishing. "We'd go to Lake of the Woods about five times a year when we first met," she recalls. "I love to fish, he loves to fish; he loves to hunt, too, but I can't shoot Bambi, I'd rather paint him," she says. Tanya is an artist, in addition to waitressing duties at Stanley's Restaurant. During those first six months as a couple, Bob stepped closer to permanently intertwining their lives; he proposed marriage several times. But Tanya's answer was always no. "We decided to get a place together," Tanya says. "Then he proposed again." This time, the lady said yes. The couple married Sept. 13, 2003. "The reason I went 14 years without marrying was because I wanted to find someone who would take my opinions into consideration," Tanya says. "I'm a very religious person and I believe a wife should obey her husband." Her previous relationships had all lacked that important aspect. "Bob always asks my opinion, and I like that," she says. By so doing, he swept her off her feet. Fifteen-year-old Tianna's opinion was an important part of Tanya's decision to marry, as well. "She would tell me right out if she didn't like who I was dating. She liked Bob right away." Tanya's love for Bob also extends to his parents. "They're the best in the world," she says. "My father and his father passed away about a year apart from each other. That was a big test of our relationship," she says, "we went through a lot." As for their secret to a good marriage, Tanya points to the place good communication holds in hers and Bob's relationship. "It's number one," she says. "As soon as those barriers fall down, everything else does, too," she says. Keeping those lines of communication open is a must, whether they agree on everything, or whether their opinions differ occasionally. They work through those issues whenever they come up. "We had good communication before we started dating," she says. "We could talk to each other about anything." From the moment they met, it was, for Tanya and Bob, love at first sight. "We were both pretty shy," she says, "and I'm not a shy person. Bob is a man of very few words. But we looked at each other, and that was it."