Meet Ken and Tina. They came to Berlin in 2015 looking for a fresh start and a new adventure.
At home in Berlin’s Prenzlauer Berg district with their beautiful seven-months old daughter, Ava, they share the journey they’ve been on and what happened when they thought their perfect love story was over.
How did you end up in Berlin?
Ken: I guess actually we should start with how we got together because it’s our relationship that brought us to Berlin in the end.
We grew up in a city near Cologne and met in high school when we were 14 and 15. Tina caught my eye but it took about a year before we started to talk to each other. On the Internet! ICQ if anyone remembers (laughs). I think it was a few months before we actually spoke to each other in person.
Tina: Yeah. Then we started dating. We went to see “Trennung mit Hindernissen” (The Break Up) in the cinema for our first date! (laughs)
That’s ironic. What happened after high school?
Tina: We moved to Frankfurt am Main and Wiesbaden to study. I knew I wanted to marry Ken, so for me, going somewhere else just wasn’t an option.
Ken: Before we even had our first kiss in high school we knew that (marriage) was what we both wanted. Actually, in 2010, while we were at uni, we decided we wanted to get married the following year.
Did you propose then?
Ken: Er, no. Typical guy! (laughs) I just couldn’t get my act together.
Tina: I was waiting the whole summer of 2010 for him to propose!
Ken: I had to work through some stuff before I was ready. My parents separated when I was younger, and I just didn’t know how I was going to tell them that at 22, I wanted to get married. I was afraid of what they would say and also what my friends at uni would think. They were all enjoying university life and here I was doing the complete opposite. It just wasn’t normal! I did propose in the end and guess what – she said yes!
Tina: …which left me with not even a year to plan the wedding! In the end it was the perfect day though and I think we really changed our friends’ perceptions about marriage.
So now that you were married – what happened next?
Ken: There we were, supposed to be happily married, but with a ton of problems. We were fighting all the time and we didn’t really know why. To be honest, the first three years of our marriage weren’t easy.
Tina: We said a lot of things to each other during that season that weren’t OK. And that’s tough to deal with. Words are powerful.
Ken: Some of our very close friends tried to help us through, but we were really struggling. I think for me, by this point, work had become my absolute purpose. My goals had shifted to making money, which completely messed up my priorities.
But eventually something changed?
Tina: Yes. It was in December 2013. We organized a Christmas market with our church in Wiesbaden and Ken and I had a massive fight on the morning of when it was happening. It was so big that we went there separately and didn’t speak to each other all day. But there was a band performing at the market and they had this one song called ‘Put Your Pistols Down’. It reminded me of the promise we gave each other before God when we got married and that He would carry us through times like these. That was a turning point for us. It was the moment we knew that our story wasn’t over yet.
Ken: We decided that we needed a new environment and a fresh start. So I quit my job and we did an internship in San Diego for a while to serve others before we were to start our next chapter in Berlin – joining a friend‘s start-up as a partner.
So what was different when you came to Berlin?
Ken: My priorities! I made sure to set the values that we wanted to have from the beginning on. And because I’m a partner in the start-up I can make sure to have a better work-life balance.
How has Berlin changed you?
Ken: Berlin gave us a sense of purpose. We now know that life is bigger than ourselves. We are part of a church community that is determined to add value to the city of Berlin and there is a role we can play in that.
Tina: And through this, we have a shared vision for our marriage, too. We are finally going in the same direction, being passionate about building a home for others.
What does Unfinished Story mean to you?
Tina: That it doesn’t matter how bad the past was, but that there is always hope for the future. God can take broken pieces and restore them. For me, this is really what I’ve seen in our relationship. From our human perspective it felt like our relationship had no future, but I believe God helped us to turn it around.
What’s your biggest challenge right now?
Ken: We want to make sure our home and our family is healthy so we can help others. But it’s quite challenging to find a balance when the business is growing, work is demanding and the pressure to win new customers is on for our start-up to have a future. It is easy to fall back into old patterns.
What is your biggest dream right now?
Tina: My biggest dream is to create a healthy environment for Ava so she knows how valued she is. But it’s also to be able to help other couples with our story. We want others to see that it really is worth fighting for a marriage, that divorce is not an option for us. Marriage is a decision and it can be tough, but investing into it is so rewarding.
Ken: Yep. We’re not just building for ourselves anymore but for the next generation. Ava is going to be the mother of my grandchildren. How awesome is that? I want to build something for their future.
What’s your personal connection to Easter?
Tina: For me the message of Easter means hope. Jesus can turn every story around.
Ken: Easter reminds me that the God we believe in is alive and actively helping us write our story and create a future for our daughter.
Thanks, Tina & Ken, for your time.