It’s creeping up on seven years since my first marriage ended in a heap of trauma, tragedy, and pain. The road from there to here has been difficult. To say it’s been bumpy would be trite and an underestimation of our journey.
But that same road led me to a new love. And that was pretty terrifying.
I wasn’t even considering dating again, not yet anyway. But my kids urged me to get on an online dating site. Yeah, my kids suggested it. Almost insisted really. I was, though, in a really good head space by this time. I felt stronger in myself than I’d ever felt in my life: I didn’t feel desperate to date. I wasn’t adamantly opposed to the notion. I was at peace with where I was and whom I’d become.
When I started that online dating journey, I had my list in place. It was pretty much a list of demands: qualities I demanded a man must possess if I would even consider dating him. And I promised God and myself that I would stick to that list, period. Part of what was so scary was falling into an unhealthy relationship again. It was indeed terrifying to think of being back in a marriage that was so terribly painful.
And any time you take a chance on getting your heart steamrolled is, well, pretty terrifying.
I knew I’d been a good wife and I knew there was a good guy “out there” somewhere who would be a genuinely good husband to me. In God’s time. In God’s way.
It’s important to note that when we even found each other online, we chatted, emailed, and eventually texted for three months before being in the same room together. Slow was the name of the “game.” It wasn’t something we ever spoke about, but since we’d both been hurt before, slow was what came naturally and necessarily.
When we did meet, it still wasn’t “let’s get married right now!” The chemistry was definitely there. But so was the fear. It remained. And it worsened. The closer we grew emotionally, the scarier it got because that’s when you can get hurt…when you’re emotionally attached.
In fact, after one date, I cried as I drove home. I could feel myself liking him more and more, and I was so fearful I’d lose myself in a man again. Love can be scary business.
That’s when I shared with him the story of what we’d suffered through as a family. Actually, all in one evening I told him about that and the fact that I have Crohn’s disease. My reasoning: we were definitely right on the edge of falling in love, and it was only fair that he knew the full story so he had the opportunity to duck out before things got serious…if that’s what he wanted to do.
He stuck around and a few months later, on his birthday, he said he didn’t get everything he’d hoped for. Then he got down on one knee (with the prior approval of my children) and proposed.
Six months later, we got married. And we lived happily ever after.
Pretty much. “Happily ever after” doesn’t mean you never have issues or arguments. It means you decide that your relationship is going to be good and then you work your butt off to make it so. Together. It’s a partnership. You can’t make a marriage by yourself.
Like I said, we’d already been hurt in our prior marriages. We’d learned valuable lessons about ourselves and what’s required to make a marriage successful. And what it takes to seriously mess one up. We were and are bent on protecting our relationship.
We’ve had challenges and we’ve gone around the learning curve, discovering each other’s sensitivities (from being hurt) and strengths, and we’ve capitalized on them in the very best way in an effort to strengthen our marriage on the daily.
Respect is vital in a marriage (any relationship) and we agreed right away that we’d always, always treat each other with respect. Even in the times we might not like each other so much, respect is kept intact. We both knew if respect is lost, it’s very hard to rebuild it (trust too).
We have maybe some unusual hurdles because of my past specifically. Some PTSD, definitely chronic illness issues crop up. But thank God, He blessed me with the most patient man who is also the most considerate, supportive, and thoughtful.
My husband truly has met every “demand” on my list. Let me tell you that waiting for the right man is definitely worth it. And taking a chance on loving again, as frightening as it may be, is worth it too.
Step out in faith and bravery. It’s not an easy thing to hand your heart to someone when you once had to have it patched back together. In fact, it’s downright difficult. But listen to me, sweet sisters, it is worth the risk.
This week, as we celebrate our anniversary, I’m so grateful we both stepped bravely out in faith to fall in love with each other. He’s the best and I remind him of that fact every day.
Be brave. Step out. Touch love.