By Ashley White
Photography by Jacinda Davis
Alan and Bethany, married 5 months
Alan and Bethany Barka dated each other for six years before tying the knot this fall. That’s a long time by most standards — but not necessarily if you started dating when you were 14.
The two met on a 4-H exchange trip to Louisiana in high school and started dating within a year. However, Alan went to Litchfield Senior High School and Bethany attended Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City, which meant they only saw each other on weekends.
When they went to college — Alan at Ridgewater, Bethany at St. Cloud State University — they stayed together and continued their long-distance routine, spending only a couple days together each week.
“We didn’t see each other all that often,” Bethany says. “I think it actually helped not being together all the time. I know some couples who are together 24/7 and seem to get sick of each other.”
Because of the distance they faced early in their relationship, both Alan and Bethany knew that they didn’t want to spend their lives apart from each other. Alan proposed to Bethany on Christmas last year at his parent’s house by giving her a “unique” present to open.
“It was a pretty good-sized box, probably 3-feet by 2-feet,” Bethany says of the present. “I opened it and started pulling out things like feed bags, a water tank heater and alcohol wipes. It was all barn equipment. I had no idea what was happening. Then I saw the smaller box at the very bottom, and I started to make the connections. That was the ring.”
The couple had a quiet, low-key wedding ceremony this September at Peace Lutheran Church in Cosmos, with a reception at the American Legion in Cosmos. Because Alan is a cattle farmer and Bethany grew up on a farm, both the wedding and the reception had a Western, country-chic theme.
“It was a traditional wedding, but we wanted to incorporate some farm stuff,” Bethany says. “All of our friends and family were there. It was a great day.”
After nearly five months of married life together, the Barkas say that so far, marriage hasn’t been much different than dating, except for one thing.
“I get to see her a lot more,” Alan says. “We milk cows together in the mornings for a couple hours. That’s our time to talk.”
It may not seem like quality “romance time,” but both Bethany and Alan love to be on the farm. They do chores together in the mornings and some evenings when Bethany isn’t working. On occasional weekends, they leave the farm in someone else’s hands and have dinner together or go see a movie.
“We don’t go out too often, but that’s the lifestyle we’ve chosen and both of us are totally okay with that,” Bethany says. “Every once in a while, though, it’s nice to have a change and go out together. We like to have dinner or hang out with some of our mutual friends.”
In the future, Alan and Bethany hope to buy their own farm near Litchfield and settle down permanently. Someday, they’d like to be parents.
“We want a whole fleet of kids,” Alan says. “Four or five, for sure. We haven’t thought about that too much, though. It’s a ways down the road yet.”
Whatever life brings their way in the next 60 or so years, Alan and Bethany look forward to spending it together, as a married couple.
“I know our future will be wonderful,” Bethany says. “In the years ahead, I see us still happily together with kids, living on a farm. We’re going to have a wonderful life together.”
What they love most about each other
Bethany: “He’s so easygoing and doesn’t let things drag him down. He can always make me laugh.”
Alan: “Her sense of humor. She always makes me smile.”
Advice for other newlyweds
Alan: “Make sure you have time every day to talk to each other.”
Bethany: “Talk things through in an argument. If you stop talking, then write it out. Just find a way to communicate.”