Courtney and Matthew

How We Met

Honestly, it pretty much started as a stupid high school crush at Toledo Technology Academy. I ( Matthew Stremmel) was going through a roughish time in high school being overdramatic about the desire of a relationship with a girl. However, Courtney caught my attention about my Jr. year because of a simple message on skype. A message that would literally bond us together for the next 5 years and hopefully eternity ahead. We started really talking in 2012 most intensely but usually only through Facebook. It wasn’t until about 6 months before our relationship officiated that we Skyped with each other almost every single night be it the weekend or school the next morning. I don’t know why but skype was literally the most exciting time at night of every single one of my days and it was something I ALWAYS looked forward too.

Courtney and I would literally talk for so long on skype and literally fall asleep together skyping each other as a tradition which really solidified our Friendship. No, we were not dating much when we skyped. We did date for 2 weeks before valentines day in 2013 before we broke up and decided maybe we are better as friends. Well, one day after another it seemingly became more intense as we started to really feel each other’s energy on a day to day basis. Almost feeling held back because of friends and restrictions a real live relationship with Courtney seemed impossible regardless of how we felt for each other. I struggled day in and day out thinking about her all the time and her the same for me. I was still doing her homework and she was still keeping me company and filling the void that existed in my life.

April 27th, 2013 I don’t know what happened but that day was a different day. I had evolved as a person to so many different levels and I was working at McDonald’s at the time. It was chucky cheese day for my niece and I called off work. Driving back home because I forgot my wallet in my 1990 Red Toyota 4runner Courtney and I was talking as if it was forever already. Just talking about our feelings for each other and pouring out the truths. Still feeling like it was a risk that we didn’t want to take we jumped to the conclusion that we should really be together and so that day it was real. As some stupid high school kids at the time we really felt for each other and hopefully, that day holds true and real for the rest of our lives because it was the best decision we have ever made for our emotional, financial, and mental capacity at the time and even now.

Fast forward a couple of months later and Courtney and I were at a difficult time in our lives, we were still living apart having JUST graduated school. I was still living at my moms and she was with hers. At the time tensions were hot with her mom and Courtney made a decision that many people would consider unwise, even we knew it was unwise. However, we did what stupid kids at the time do and followed our love for each other which led us into some ridiculously tough times, that for the sake of character development; everyone should go through at some point. Not that I necessarily wish that upon anybody but important lessons are great to learn. So we learned. At first, it was living with my sister at the time which was incredibly difficult for all of us.

Karen still establishing herself and us just pushing into her home basically what felt like to her stealing her space and privacy, which can be difficult for anybody of course. Some months down the road and we found ourselves at what exactly was the bottom of the barrel hardest and most challenging part of our life, relationship, and mindset. Things not working out with Karen and us we jumped the gun and made an incredibly risky and dangerous decision to leave and look for new outlets. Mom’s house wasn’t a choice, my grandmother was not happy with us, and my sister I don’t think wanted us back at the time. So we looked out further than that. What is now Kevin and Kelly Kretz were there to help us with our backs.

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With the help of Kevin and his mom and Kelly and her parents, we found ourselves living apart for a few months. Working at Best Buy through the holiday season of 2014 and coming up with a plan to be reunited (Of course we were still talking just not living together) we worked hard, saved our money, and negotiated with Kenwood Gardens to make due with what we had to acquire an apartment there. Times apart were so hard because of how little money we had trying to establish basically something out of nothing is no easy task. After all the long nights of homework ( I was going to UT) and working long and painful shifts we finally were able to land an apartment at the Kenwood Gardens at the beginning of the winter of 2014. Finally what began as a revitalizing and testing journey for our lives really began and we had to start working together more than ever before. Arguments, challenges, financial losses accrued while living at Kenwood because in a tough life anyone trailing together is inevitably going to bump heads. We pushed forward still.

We lived in Kenwood for about 2 years. In that time we struggled like no other and did whatever we could to survive. Yes, we know the ramen noodle struggle. Yes, we had to underpay our electric bill and gas bill to get by and make sure we paid our rent. Yes, we had stuff sent to our collections. We are human, we do what is necessary to maintain social, financial, and mental optimal capacity to always push forward so long as we are not destroying our foundation. We made tons of mistakes and learned so many things. Paying bills became common to us, turning down opportunities to hang out with best friends started happening, not because we didn’t want to but time wouldn’t permit. Even on days where we were doing nothing. People need times to literally lay around the house all day long to recoupe, life gets tough and if you would rather lay in bed and stare at a ceiling for 3 hours than go over your friend’s house because you feel like you just don’t want to that’s fine. Friends are people who will stick through with you no matter what.

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The friends we have now are the ones we know for sure are the people who understand everything about what we need. Regardless of how people felt Courtney and I persevered and moved forward day by day. One of the biggest changes in our lives and most positive and maybe reckless at the time is getting our Golden Retriever Buddy. Buddy is literally the child furball that we love and care for and will never regret struggling to have apart of our lives. He joined our journey and is still with us today and we will forever love that dog. Kenwood was probably the point we can say was our start, our real first test, and the opportunity to prove ourselves against all odds. Through all this time of loss at Kenwood, we also gained. Not just time together but we were able to reconnect with lost souls, relationships we thought we destroyed and the opportunity to really develop our personalities and become the mature people we needed to become and quickly.

For the sake of our relationship and the sake of our lives. Courtney destroyed her relationship with what felt like her mom and that family. I felt like I lost my sister and my grandmother. I stopped going to school (Worst personal life decision I’ve ever made but I learned). We lost money and time and didn’t think we would ever get it back. We discovered in that part of our life that it wasn’t the case. Slowly but surely Courtney started talking to her mom again. I was talking to my grandma again. My sister and I actively sought to better our relationship. What seemed forever gone was slowly being rebuilt and the joy it brought to us when we began to realize it was insurmountable. Kenwood was a stepping stone, and just like all paths and milestones the next one was created and the end of one was reached. At the start of 2016, we made another huge move. An apartment was not suitable for us anymore, just like most people everyone wants to expand. We made it happen and moved into what would really be the next, short, but important part of our lives. We got approved for a house paying almost the same amount of rent and moved into 1959 Brussels.

Brussels was really the in-between point for us. Brussels we struggled a lot as well but at the same time, it was like the midpoint. We still had our debts and things to work on but its almost as if your sitting waiting for the sun to rise and Brussels was really that point it began to rise. We saw a light flicker into our eyes and really started to solidify our finances and relationship with each other. Obviously going through more tough times and creating tough obstacles for ourselves, we loved that house and it really made us feel more of who we were because of where we were at in our lives. Sure I wasn’t going to school and we were both working jobs we can’t call careers. But we had space. We had power, we had our own stuff. It was like at Brussels we were finally able to start putting the past behind us and realize like, wow we really got here from basically nothing and look what we have now. 2 Cars that were reliable, a house with plenty of space that we could let friends in need come stay with us. Parties and events we held. It was our doing, we were making quite literally money moves hahaha. We learned a lot there and that is a house we miss because it reminds of ourselves when we are by ourselves and are able to see what kind of power we really have together. Us vs the world really seemed real.

Fast forward 6 months and life took another serious turn. This story is about Courtney and I so by no means do I intend to derail but a little subplot if I may. My grandmother passed away on December 9th of 2015. My world felt like it was falling apart at my work party at Mancies Steakhouse with Courtney when I received the phone I still wish to this day I didn’t have to receive. My grandma passed and while this is easily one of the most difficult emotional times for my life but at the same time opened an opportunity for my life with my sister and Courtney that I needed to jump forward to take advantage of. She really helped us all out and for that, I am forever grateful. Anyway, so with the passing of my grandma her house on Gunckel finally was abandoned. To carry on with her will my sister and I inherited each 1/2 of her house. We talked one day and all decided that we would together move in to work together and fulfill goals and save money and do what we all aspire to do. Find the greatest opportunities, go back to school, reposition ourselves, pay off debt. It was a golden blessing. Finally May-June 2016 we all decided to move together into Gunckel. We made a move that would at one side be hard on all of us but on the other hand be the smartest move people should make and that’s to work together under the same roof. Space, privacy, and what seems like freedom is lost. The gain is hard to see when looking through the seams of all the negatives but it is there and it’s big. So the beginning of a new chapter began.

The day came and we packed up Brussels, luckily we found someone to take over our lease and we moved out about 6 months after living in Brussels. It wasn’t exactly the planned move but it happened. With the help of friends Courtney, Buddy and I were escorted to our new home along with Paris, Karen, and their dog. From that point forward our engagements would be tested and life would be hard to put up with. Gunckel has been a tough road for us to say the least. I mean everyone wants to save money and be successful and a lot of people look at their own life situations and need to answer the question. At what cost? Is it really feasible to give up all my privacy, space and habits to save money and move forward with my life? It’s not easy and I think all 4 of us have learned that. However as of recent things have gotten better between us all mentally and personally.

I ended up going back to school and finally solidifying myself for Mechanical Engineering Technologies and Courtney Finally discovered something that she was interested in. Social work is a field where people seek to help others with life problems like addiction, child services, and medical environments encapsulating some of life’s toughest endeavors. Courtney and I now are challenging ourselves with full-time jobs and as much schooling per semester as possible to get through to what should hopefully be the start of our careers. We have plans and ideas on what to do over the next couple of years but no one can call it so that can be a mystery. As we lived through the months at Gunckel we argued a lot. I’m not used to this, Courtney didn’t like that Karen did this, Karen had issues on how to deal with us. It’s real. These problems arise. We can either choose to ignore them, resolve them, or give up.

But we also recognized the benefits we were reaping through the months. The money we were saving, how much we were all helping each other. The pros and cons are all there but life can’t stop, giving up isn’t much of an option. Finally, our 4th year anniversary came up. I planned for months in advance what I would do. Idea after idea when finally I decided on what I would do. ( Will not go into detail because you can literally watch the video!) But we went to Kalahari for our weekend getaway and that weekend I know I made the best decision of my entire life. Committing to be with this Woman for the rest of my life isn’t something I need and I’m not afraid to say that. I’m not afraid to say that because I know I want this woman in my life forever. The power we have and the things we can do together seem endless. No challenge yet has stopped us and breaking up is never an option. The feeling of love comes and goes for many people and it’s only natural. As human beings in this world, we don’t have the power to choose how we feel it just happens and unfortunately married couples, boyfriends girlfriends, and anyone this can happen too. No one is immune. People are going to eventually fall out of love.

Everything has an expiration date and will get stale and relationships are no different. Of course, everyone experiences them differently the real question is that when you say you love them do you mean you feel for them or do you mean that you would literally do whatever it takes to be with that person forever? Even if you feel like someone tried to invade your relationship while you and your significant other were married and maybe you felt something for this new person. Are you able to look past that and stay true to yourself and your commitment? Never letting go? Yeah, a lot of people say these things but meaning it is something completely different. Love is a challenge and is not one to be taken lightly. I’m literally ready to commit my entire life for this women through lust, greed, and hatred. I won’t let anything stop me from being with her. I know we will have issues, I know its possible one day we can stop talking. But my goal is to absolutely make sure that I do everything in my power to keep her around. I’m so glad she accepted my proposal to marry her and move forward with our lives.

I cannot wait for everyone to be at our wedding and if you took the time to read all of this giant wall of text it really tells me that you care and you love us. For that, I thank you because people need to have each other’s backs in order to move through this extremely difficult life and I can’t express from the bottom of my heart how much it means for people to want to be involved with our life. I love all of you and especially Courtney.

How He Asked

It started back in 2016 when I first thought about proposing to Courtney. I was driving home one night reflecting on my life with Courtney. I finally decided I wanted to propose to her. I got with her mom in 2017 and we went and looked at rings and I picked one out. I then started to come up with a plan of how I was going to propose. We were talking about going to Kalahari in Sandusky, Ohio when I came up with my plan. I wanted her to walk out to the bridge out of the resort and have all of our best family and friends standing there greeting her with memory filled posters that reminisced parts of our life that would make her think. Kind of like taking a trip down memory lane. I put the plan into action, got in touch with a couple of my buddies one of which was the photographer and came up with the plan. We went on our anniversary weekend and on April 28th, 2017 we were leaving to go to our date that I told her I made dinner reservations for. Was not true at all! We got ready and at about 7:55 PM we began to go downstairs.

I explained to all the friends and family to be there at 8 PM on that day and I had my best man carry out all the organization. It was well worth the time and effort. We got downstairs and I told her to let me pull the car up because It was raining so she could wait. When I got outside everyone was there and it was a perfect moment. I walked out and to my spot and I waited so nervously for her to come out. She finally came out wondering where I was at and her face blew up with surprise and joy and once she started to figure out what was going on she began to cry. She walked all the way down the bridge and got to me and I said my speech and asked her to marry me and it was such a beautiful moment. She said YES and we followed up with going to buffalo wild wings as a part of the celebration. I love you so much Courtney Lynn Bentley and I cannot wait until our wedding day!

Our Video

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Special Thanks

Sam Ciha
Photographer
Terrance Stokely
Planning
Reghan Boyd
Making Posters and coming up with designs