The other day one of my readers commented on my Friday Fun post, asking how I met my husband.
It was kind of hilarious, only because I’d been thinking just the day before that I’d never shared that story. Isn’t that weird?
I would love to tell you that we have a completely romantic story involving long distance letter writing (preferably in flowy cursive), a long courtship in which my husband beat out several potential suitors for my hand in marriage, and maybe even a proposal that involves a row boat, but no. None of that is a thing.
I met my husband in a bar when I was 23. You’re welcome, romantics across the land.
I did not grow up with a good example of marriage and I honestly had zero dreams of getting married. I went through a series of unhealthy relationships during high school and after, and was certainly not above dating a cute boy for a free dinner. I was young and lived alone and just kind of did whatever I wanted, scraping up enough money for bills and going out when I could afford it.
Then one night I was at a bar with a guy friend (it was ladies night, half price drinks, don’t hate) and I saw a tall, broad shouldered guy walking around. He was certainly better looking than the guy I was with, so I did my best to stare at him super hard, hoping he might take a hint. When the guy I was with headed to the bathroom, the guy I’d been staring at approached me and asked, “Is that guy your cousin or what, because he can’t be your boyfriend”.
Yes. That was the first thing he ever said to me.
So we talked and I gave him my number but I told him that I came with my friend and was going to stay with my friend, and also I’d been drinking more than I should have, so there’s that. It was before I found the Lord, okay? Things happened back then, what do you do.
Sometime around 3 am, while I laid in my bed with one foot on the floor, desperately trying to keep from vomiting (again) and stop the room from spinning, my now-husband Jess called. I was like, “Oh hi yes, I am totally fine, I haven’t been throwing up just now or anything,” so he asked me on a date for the next day and then I freaked out because I HAD had a lot to drink that night and what if he was ugly and just looked cute in my drunken state?
The night of our date, I made sure to have some friends on speed dial and met him somewhere because I didn’t want him seeing where I lived in case he was a psychopath or even worse, ugly. But it turned out that he was great and we were basically inseparable from that point forward, despite the fact that he was 6 years older than me and lived 45 minutes away.
Six months into our relationship, I found out that I was pregnant.
Jess was at work that day and didn’t even know that I suspected I might be pregnant. So I sat at his house and cried and counted all the hundreds of things I would never be able to do again while I waited on him to get home. I was a mess. I did not want a baby and certainly didn’t want to have a baby with someone I had dated for a mere SIX MONTHS. But Jess came home and I told him while snot and ugly tears streamed down my face, and he calmly told me that we would figure it out and everything would be fine.
He was mostly right.
I moved to his house, driving my pregnant self 45 minutes to work every day, quitting my job a week before I was due to have Jon David. It was hard. We lived outside a tiny little town, down a dirt road, and I knew NO ONE. We barely knew each other. By the time I had Jon David, we had been together with me pregnant longer than we’d been together with me NOT pregnant. To say that it was not an ideal situation would be an understatement. I was navigating a new baby, a new life as a stay-at-home mom, a fairly new relationship, and living in a new town all at once and there were some days that really just kind of sucked.
But we pushed through. We fought some and we struggled financially some, but we never ever broke up or quit. When I look back on our relationship, I think that’s the thing I am most proud of — neither of us ever quit.
In May of 2006, when Jon David was a year and a half old, we got married in Washington State where Jess’ mom lived, in a teeny tiny church. Jon David ran around the church during our vows and it rained most of the day, but I must be the weirdest woman ever because I didn’t really care. At that point it kind of just felt like a formality. Also, it wasn’t at all awkward when the pastor asked us during pre-marriage counseling why we thought we were ready to get married and we replied, “well, we have a one and a half year old, soooo…”
There are times I wish that I had had a bigger wedding or an elaborate proposal. There are times that I wish I could have enjoyed more time with my husband before we had our son. But I also know that we wouldn’t have the life we have now, which after 11 years still isn’t perfect but it’s as good as I could hope for.
We still fight some and we still struggle financially at times, but we have also grown SO much. I wish I could tell some of you who might be in a newer marriage or might be frustrated or wondering if you even want to have more kids because your husband doesn’t help like he should — that it can get better. I’ve learned to let go of a lot of resentments and my husband has learned a lot about pitching in without being asked.
If you would have told me 9 years ago that he’d one day read stories and do baths and change poopy diapers without being nagged, I might not have believed you. If you had told my husband 9 years ago that I would learn to fill my life with so many hobbies and interests of my own that I’d no longer hold him 100% responsible for my personal happiness, he wouldn’t have believed you. But marriages can evolve, if you just keep plugging away and always try to get better.
Church has helped a lot, too. In 2009, about a year after suffering the unexpected loss of my husband’s stepdad and brother within weeks of each other, I realized that life was bigger than we were. That I lacked the strength to go through life alone, with no God and no church family to help carry me through it. And even though I worried that church wouldn’t “want” us — that the way we met and the fact that my son will always be older than our marriage, meant that we weren’t good enough — I couldn’t have been more wrong. My church loves me, God loves me, and every day he gives me the strength to not murder my husband when he puts his dirty clothes on the floor right NEXT to the dirty hamper instead of inside of it.
So that’s our story. It’s not romantic and it’s not very holy or particularly interesting. It’s just two people who were flawed and made mistakes and decided to work towards being better versions of themselves. It will probably always be that way, but I am okay with that. Romance is nice, but it can also be fleeting. Also, my husband gives excellent leg rubs and is great at picking up a box of wine at the drug store, so I think that’s a sure sign of a successful future.