With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, we asked Peter and Autumn Santovi to share their love story and secrets for keeping their relationship a success.
A broken-down Volkswagen Jetta was at the origin of their courtship that began in August of 2004 when Peter and Autumn met at a Bible study group. Autumn had just moved to Burnsville after living her entire life and early 20s in northern California and was invited to the college-age Bible study which Peter had been attending for some time. She drove her much loved Volkswagen Jetta that night but had to keep pulling over because it was overheating. A girl at the Bible study gave her Peter’s number because he was a mechanic. The next day, Autumn called Peter to inquire about car repairs and they set up a time to fix her car. Instead of charging her for the repairs, Peter said she could buy his dinner the next time their Bible study group went out to dinner.
The Santovis were married two years later in October of 2006 and now have three children, their oldest daughter, Jordyn (age 12) and two sons, Elijah (age 11) and Gideon (age 9). As a couple and family, they enjoy road trips, concerts, hiking, biking, visiting coffee shops, church ministry, and outreach. Peter and Autumn have also played in a band together and ran the Open Mic+Art Night at the Belle Plaine Library for several years together.
What advice do you have for young couples?
Spend a lot of time talking. Develop a friendship first that is unshakable. Discuss life goals and figure out how you can help each other achieve those goals. As a husband, protect your family and lead in such a way that your wife would want to follow you. Always be loving, kind, forgiving, and approachable. Never be afraid to talk about feelings or at a minimum, listen to each other’s feelings without trying to fix things. As a wife, be careful not to treat your husband like a kid; belittling, shaming or disrespecting him and making it super awkward for everyone involved. Treat him with respect for the man that he is or at the very least, the man you desire him to someday be.
Can you share a challenge you overcame together in your marriage?
Early in our marriage, like many couples, we faced major financial issues. We took a Dave Ramsey financial class together. It was several months of driving an hour each way to Rosemount and back each week. It helped us get back on track and pay off thousands of dollars in debt but most importantly, we learned to be more open with each other about our finances. We created a budget together and shared responsibility in maintaining it.
How/when did you know he/she was “the one?”
Autumn: For me, it was gradual. We talked SO MUCH. It seemed like we were always driving somewhere, sometimes hours on end, which gave us a ton of time to talk. Pete became my closest friend and I just couldn’t imagine life without him in it.
Peter: I was at my house talking to her on the phone, which we often did, and I remember hanging up and saying to myself, “I love this girl!” I knew at that moment that she was the one I wanted to spend the rest of my life with.
What is your favorite gift you have received from your spouse?
Peter: My favorite gift that Autumn has given me is time. For most of our early years of marriage and raising kids, life was pretty busy. I often had to put some things on hold, hoping to get to it someday. Every once in a while she would say, “This Saturday I’m going to load up the kids and leave you home to do whatever you want to do.” Usually, it meant finally fixing the car or an appliance without having to change diapers in the middle of it. A couple of uninterrupted hours was priceless.
Autumn: Pete is constantly investing time and money in my dreams, talents and goals, but the gift I use the most is the piano he bought me. I’m a songwriter so this was yet another heartfelt investment in my life’s purpose and continues to remind me of his support.
What is your key to a happy, successful marriage?
Peter: The key ingredient to a happy marriage is putting God first in your life. Get to know who He is and his plan for your life. Honor him by the way you live your life, treat your spouse, raise your kids, and interact with others. Also remember that being happy in your marriage isn’t promised, it’s a choice. I chose to marry my wife and I continue to choose her through all of life’s circumstances. When tough times come, giving up on us is not an option for either one of us. That leaves us with the only other option, work it out. Sometimes it’s a challenge and it takes time and a lot of tough conversations, but it’s those obstacles that make your marriage stronger and better prepared for what the future will have for you. Also, surround yourself with good role models whose marriage has stood the test of time. And finally, always remind her of how beautiful she is and how much you appreciate her.
Autumn: First and foremost, for us it’s putting God at the center of our marriage. We each have our own, personal relationship with Jesus but have also come together in prayer about a lot of hard things over the years. We try to always remember to thank Him for the blessings as well.
Nurture your friendship with each other and date often. Be completely transparent and vulnerable with each other. This is your person. Trust them enough to let them love you at your darkest!