This week I am starting a new series, Love in the real world. There are so many Hollywood love stories out there that we forget what real love looks like. So over the next few weeks you will hear about what real love looks like (or doesn't), the good, the bad, and the in-between. Enjoy!
Photo Credit: Smath
When I think about how my husband and I met, I giggle. Back in 1999 when the internet was pretty new to everyone, there was a website called College Club. It was a bit like MySpace, but only for college kids. I was surfing the internet and found an interesting message board to comment on. One of my favorite hockey players had gotten into a motorcycle accident and had to retire early. He was the best fighter in the NHL at the time, so now the NHL needed a new fighter. Drew started the message board with the question of who that would be. Then he added, "If don't like fighting, put on your skirt and stay out of here." That caught my attention, so I posted asking him if thought girls couldn't understand the need and purpose for fighting in hockey. He messaged me personally and said not at all. He would love to talk to any lady who knew about hockey. That began a discussion that continued every day by email or instant messenger every day for the next 3 years.
At various points in our friendship, we both felt more, but said nothing. After some growing with God that he did and some listening to God I did, we talked and decided to date. And yes you are reading that right, we started to date before we met! I was that confident in what God had told me. I met him a few weeks after that in St. Louis with some of his friends and some of my friends. We only had a few hours together, but they were magical. As he got off the metro, he kissed me on the head and I thought that was the sweetest thing ever. For the next two years we would visit when we could about three times a year. We talked on the phone for hours every day. Thank goodness for free Sprint to Sprint calling.
On July 3, 2004 we got married. My car was packed and I left for Charlotte a few hours after getting married. (Yes, I think I was a little crazy back then.) We had a rough few months until I found a job and we found a safer place to live. We had about a year of okay while I was working on my Masters in Spanish. Then the bottom fell out. We lost about 5 people we were close to and I lost my job in about 2 months. I honestly didn't know if I would ever teach again. Thankfully the job I had left in Illinois was open again. I called the Superintendent and we set up an interview. I got the job and we moved back to Illinois. We got there and both of us knew that this wasn't forever. It was however a relatively peaceful time that let us both grow in our faith and heal from our wounds. In June of 2008, we moved back to North Carolina. This time to Hickory. We got there and before we could unpack, we found out I was pregnant. I had no job and neither of us had insurance. We were scared. However, God came through. I found a job and insurance. We lived in an apartment for a little over a year. I lost my job and faced that time of unemployment with faith because of what God had already brought us through. God provided a job that I didn't apply for and then a house to rent with the option to buy. It was one story which was safer for Ben and a big yard that seemed wonderful. It was nice enough, but once again not forever. It did give me the opportunity to finish my Masters. The yard was bigger and the house was older than we wanted. God provided a house in an amazing neighborhood. He then gave Drew a new job in youth ministry. And now here we are today.
Having said all of this, I don't want you to only hear that we had some crappy job and living circumstances. We had so many struggles between the two of us. There were parts of Drew's story that he left out and didn't tell me until months or years into our marriage. I'm going to be honest and say I didn't really struggle with this. I knew his heart and the details didn't matter. What did matter was my reticence to discuss my emotions and what I was thinking. It mattered that I didn't give him to room to act in a way consistent with his character because I expect him to act within my frame of reference. I expected him to get mad, so I didn't say things that needed to be said. It mattered that he untreated depression. I know we have had more than one screaming at each other fight. There is more than once that I asked him if he wanted to stay married to me. We had some pretty severe reactions to communication flubs. We never really had an issue communicating. We had an issue reacting to communication instead of listening. It has taken us years to work through these issues. It hasn't always been easy and we have both been wrong so many times. We have asked God to bless our plans instead of asking him his plans and being blessed. We have taken long and circuitous routes to the place God wanted us to be a long time ago. We have the debt to prove it. I'm not saying we are perfect now and that things are always sunshine and roses. But I do know that we haven't had an awful fight in a while. I do know that we haven't doubted the life of our marriage in a long time. I know we will still face hardships and we still have areas that need work, but I think we are finally ready to face them together.