Thursday, February 17, 2011

A Love Story

Several months ago, I shared the story of how my husband and I began our pursuit of marriage. Here is the rest of our story, in honor of the month of romance.
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After that phone conversation, we agreed that we would talk to our pastor as a way to receive accountability and counsel for our relationship. It would've been something I would talk to my own parents about, but for one, I was already living on my own, and two, my mother passed away when I was a teenager, and I was basically estranged from my father and my step-dad was mostly out of the picture at that time as well. Plus, we were both on staff and wanted to make sure we had the blessing of our pastor/employer. We did not want our good to "be spoken of as evil" (Romans 14:16).

We met with our pastor, and by the end of the meeting, he said "I don't see any reason why you two shouldn't go ahead and start making plans to get married". Of course, I left his office totally giddy. We had already known that he usually advises a couple to have at least a year-long courtship. We were not any different.

I'll take a minute to bore you (just kidding) with some details about what I believe about courtship and premarital relations. While I know that God can use any situation to bring about His will, I don't believe in casual dating. You know, the kind of relationship that people say, "let's just see where this goes." I believe in being more intentional than that. And I believe that is what God desires (at least from me). I feel that people should not really "date" unless they are already intending to marry. Not to say that you must marry any person that you get involved with, but if you have no intention of ultimately entering into a marital union (or if you aren't ready for that) you should hold off on getting involved, period. I feel like that's setting yourself up to be in a relationship that does not honor God. That's what I mean by casual dating. If you have come to the point in life where you feel you are ready to consider marriage (and I know this point is different for everyone) you should take the time to get to know someone. Both should be mature enough to be upfront about their desire. Too many women don't want to talk about marriage because they're afraid of scaring the guy off. Let him go! Seriously! I think as ladies we waste too much time playing games with guys that have no intention to get married.

But I digress. Two people should be mature enough to let their intentions be known. And mature enough to walk away if those intentions are not compatible. Besides, we as believers should follow Matthew 6:33 "Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you".

Anyway, I had already taken a lot of time to think and pray about my relationship with William long before anybody said the M word (marriage). So it wasn't like it was a crazy, spontaneous decision to pursue marriage with him. I know that our relationship happened in the best way (for us) in that we were receiving counsel from our pastor, and also living it out in front of everyone. I think that a lot of times when two people get involved, they isolate themselves, and that makes it way more tempting to go down a path that will dishonor God. Not only physically, but it might take people away from their family, friends or their church, and ultimately their relationship with God. Sadly, I've seen this happen too many times. If the special people in your life don't approve of your relationship with someone, it really might be time to re-evaluate your involvement with them (I'm talking to single folks, so you married people don't get any crazy ideas, okay?)

Shortly after the meeting with our pastor, we set a date. August 5th. One year from the date of "the talk". We were so excited to plan our wedding (okay, I was excited to plan our wedding), and there was so much to do.

Ultimately, during our courtship, we spent a lot of time together getting to know each other even more. We discussed all sorts of things from sex, to money, to children, to what our future aspirations were. During the first part of our courtship, I had my sister living with me. Then after she moved out, I had another friend move in temporarily. She needed a place to stay, and I needed help paying the bills, so it worked out great!

William and I already knew that we would not live together before marriage. It was just a conviction we both had. Personally, I don't believe that living together before marriage is a great idea for anybody. We had committed to sexual purity until we were husband and wife, so living together was out of the question. In fact (and some people will probably think this is crazy) we usually didn't even travel together alone. We would meet at restaurants or wherever we would go for a date. We usually were out in public when we would spend time together. Admittedly, we were not perfect in following our own rules, but I think having those guidelines really helped to keep us from giving into temptation.

Well, we continued to meet with our pastor on nearly a weekly basis for our premarital counseling. We covered lots of ground, and we discovered that our pastor was definitely not shy about discussing the S word! (As it should be! That's such an important part of marriage that many people are not equipped or ill-equipped to handle.)

As more and more people began to become aware of our impending marriage, we were often met with comments like, "I knew you guys had marriage in your future". To which I often replied "I wish you would've told me!"

Ultimately, that year was spent working quite a bit. We spent a lot of time planning church events, and we even had a small group that we led together. (We met at my place, but my groom-to-be would have to wait outside until the first people showed up! Ha ha!) We also went out to dinner on a pretty regular basis. Our favorite places to eat were Italian restaurants. A mutual love of Italian food aside, we discovered we had vastly different tastes. He's a big meat eater, and I'm a big veggie lover, for example. We never could share a pizza!
The cake from my bridal shower

We really are quite different individuals. He is a majorly talented musician, and I...not so much! In fact, I've been involved in almost every single area of ministry except for music! He's very outgoing, and I am more reserved. We are similar in the most important areas, though. We both love the Word of God, so it's always easy (okay, easier) to settle a disagreement between us. God's Word is final authority. We both love serving others, and have strong convictions about commitment to our local church.

In the summer of 2006, we were wed. We got married at our church, and had our reception at a local hotel/conference center. We had a traditional wedding, officiated by our pastor. We each chose three members of our bridal party...and each of the people we chose either represented someone from our past (like a close friend/family member), someone we looked up to, and someone we had a mentor relationship to. (That was not really deliberate, but it was the connection I made later on.)
In retrospect, I probably wouldn't have opted to spend so much time or money on our wedding. It was really beautiful, don't get me wrong. But it really flew by! I'll admit, it was fairly stressful to plan everything too! Ultimately though, we both enjoyed the day. We loved seeing so many people that have been positive influences in our lives in some way or another. And, we really wanted to be a blessing to those people for helping us to become the people we are.

We ended the afternoon's festivities tired, but ready to get on with married life! We drove home together, gifts in tow. I think we opened all of our gifts and cards that afternoon! That evening, we drove up to Sedona for our honeymoon...alone. In the same car!

I feel that God really blessed our desire to honor Him in our relationship. Sure, we have our challenges, just like anyone else, but I know He's always with us. And He is faithful!

So, how did your marriage story unfold? Share in the comments!