Contradictory Ideas of Love
Growing up, I heard many contradictory ideas of love. I think we’ve all heard them flying around from person to person, especially amongst little girls with the idea that romance can be found in everything. I heard that love is a battlefield and that love is the most beautiful thing in the world. I heard that someday my prince will come and that all men are only out to get one thing. I heard that when you fall in love you will just “know” and that you have to play the field.
With so many of these ideas about love knocking around inside my head, it was hard to know exactly what love was. I knew what love was like between friends and what love was like among family, but what exactly was romantic love? Was it painful or beautiful? Pure or broken? Obvious or hidden? I came to realize that really only I could decide that. What kind of love was I going to pursue? What kind of relationship was I going to get myself into?
I decided at twelve years old that I wanted to get married. I wanted to start a family. I wanted to love a man with a sincere love that was reciprocated. I decided that, in order to do that, I would only date a guy I could see myself marrying.
Now, this is hard to really, truly see at twelve years old. To know if I was just obsessed with doodling Mrs. Whatever-His-Last-Name-Was inside hearts or if I could truly see him as my lifetime companion and the father of my children. I knew that this was impossible to tell at such a young age, so I made a promise to myself to wait, however long it took until I knew.
Of course, my crushes came and went. I shared my decision with my mom and asked her to help me stand by it. She did – even when that meant making me turn down a guy I really, really liked. I cried and cried and felt like she had ruined my life, but she really did have my best in mind – he didn’t even hold the same values that I did. That would have been a big mistake.
Then, at fifteen, I really did meet the one. I didn’t know at the time – it was by no means love at first sight. I thought that he was loud and obnoxious and extremely gawky. But he made me laugh and he was fun to be with. He had just turned sixteen and was a friend of a friend. He friended me on Facebook and messaged me to ask for my number under the guise of needing it for contact during at upcoming group meet-up. I realize now that I should’ve seen right through that because we were meeting at a movie theater with all of one entrance, but hey, I was fifteen.
After the meet-up, I didn’t hear from him for a while. Then, out of the blue, he started texting me. And he kept texting me. Every single day. We talked about the silliest and most stereotypical teenaged things: music, food, tv shows, parents, siblings, friends, school work. He started asking me a random question which he called an “RQ” every day, and, through this, we got to know each other. After a few months, I could tell you his third favorite color and his potato chip flavor preference. When he turned seventeen, he started coming to church with me and we would often get together to hang out in groups.
We quickly became best friends. We would send so many text messages a day that our moms actually got together to discuss limiting our texts. It was decided that we could only text from 3 pm until 10 pm each school day and 9 am until 10 pm each weekend. I remember some days sitting there with a message completely typed out, just staring at my phone clock that said 8:59 a.m. I wanted to tell him about every moment of every day, and I wished that he could be there for all of them.
Then one day, I realized that he was no longer loud and obnoxious and gawky to me. He was funny and cute and confident in himself. He was just the right amount of tall that I liked and he liked listening to the rainfall when we snuck in phone conversations under the blankets at two in the morning. He was the dream guy in all my Kansas country songs and the prince from all the 2000’s chick flicks I watched with my friends.
Two months before my 17th birthday, he asked me out. But he didn’t just ask me out – he went to my dad and asked him if he would allow us to date. My dad agreed and we set the date for a week later but changed our Facebook relationship status immediately.
I Knew that I Wanted To Marry Him
For our first date, we played mini golf and ate fast food and dreamed of our future. We decided that we would stay together as long as we wanted to be together – we wouldn’t break up unless we wanted it to be completely over. And we didn’t. We laughed and cried and fought and made up, but through it all, we stayed together.
The time that we dated flew by. We still texted each other regularly, went to all events together, and spent time together with our friends and family. We did all the midwestern dating things – corn mazes, country drives, star gazing, and farmer’s markets. The feeling of wanting to spend every moment with him never changed.
Along the way, I had friends who had many relationships or no relationships. The people that I worked with and spent time with didn’t understand us. They brought back to mind those conflicting ideas of love, telling me one moment that it was so sweet that I was still with my first boyfriend and the next that I couldn’t possibly know he was the one if he was the only one I had dated. But I always knew. I could close my eyes and so easily see him at the end of the aisle, then holding the keys to our first house, and then cuddling our babies. I knew that I wanted to marry him, and I was pretty sure that he wanted to marry me, too.
Two and half years after we started dating, he knelt down on the porch step of my parents’ house and asked me to marry him. I remember wishing I felt more emotional or that I could scream or cry, but I was just happy and speechless. Three months later, almost exactly four years after we had met at the theater, I met him at the end of the aisle.
Trust Even When You Can’t Believe
Brandon was the first guy I dated and the first guy I loved. He is also the one that I married. Now we’ve been married for seven and a half years. We have three kids and we live on the other side of the world. Throughout these years, we have had good times and bad times, easy stretches and long struggles. There have been a few times that we’ve wanted to throw in the towel, but we’ve always come back to that decision we made when we first started dating. We won’t break up unless we want it to be completely over. We will love, even when it’s hard, and we will trust, even when we can’t believe. And that’s because of what we have learned from our relationship over the years – love is not a feeling, it’s a choice.