Honestly, our relationship might not have worked. But I’m so glad that it did.
Christopher and I met at seminary. We were friends—good friends, trusted friends. He had a little crush on me. We both dated other people. I had a devastating break-up and Christopher comforted me (as a friend). But I didn’t want to take advantage of him, because I knew he still had a little crush. This crush was confirmed during a trip to Florida for a pair of friends’ wedding. He said, “Can I talk to you?” And because of all the sighing that went on before this question, I already knew what he wanted to talk about. He was about to go on internship to Southern Minnesota, while I remained in the Twin Cities for my next year of classes. He knew he would always regret it if he didn’t tell me how he felt about me. But he, above all, was concerned that I was still healing from my break-up and didn’t want to add more stress. Hence all the sighing before our conversation. I like to say that I let him down REAL easy…so easy that I married him!
The truth is, I told him at the time that I wasn’t interested. I hadn’t really felt that way about him. I had a habit of being interested in moody, artsy guys… guys that gave me the thrill of the chase. And there was no chase with Christopher. There was just respect, openness, clarity. No challenge at all!
So I let him down easy. He went to internship. I went to class.
And then I started missing him. I started thinking about what a true and good person he was. I started thinking that we could really make each other happy. We could really be committed to each other.
I called him up. “I think I want to ask you something.” “You think you want to ask me something??” “I do want to ask you something.” I asked him out.
I asked him out, but he planned the date. And instead of the sports pub types of places he would frequent, where you can get wings, watch the game, and play a little trivia, he found a super classy Italian place down-town. Then he took me out to a jazz club for a poetry slam. He knew I wrote poetry. It wasn’t really his scene, but he was so thoughtful to do something I would enjoy. It really touched me. I began to see him in another light. We had a wonderful time.
On the ride home, though, I was careful to caution him that despite things going well, I still wasn’t sure where I was at with our relationship. I asked him to guard his heart. I didn’t want to break it.
We talked a lot on the phone in the weeks ahead. We had some serious conversations about worries I had, questions I had. Finally, I felt a release in my spirit to take the plunge. We started dating.
We’ve never looked back.
We got engaged pretty quickly. In seminary you kind of have to make a decision about a relationship because the process forces you into it. But we probably would have anyway. We are people who commit. That was the beauty of our relationship. We had never been the type who tried to date lots of people. We wanted to date one person and then marry them. It was great to find that same trait in each other.
Even so, as I look back now, sometimes I think our early love was a bit immature. It was all flash and fire and pizzazz. And even though we had told ourselves there would be challenges, that didn’t make tough times any easier. It just made them expected. But through it all, we’ve had our communication, our love, our concern and respect for each other. And that has made our lives together so good. And if our early love was infatuation, our later love has deepened and I like to think it has also matured quite a bit.
When we were first married, I used to worry all the time that if I ever said I was sorry for anything or if I ever stopped putting my needs at the top of the list, I would disappear (this from witnessing several bad marriages close-up). But after being married to Christopher for 6 years, he has convinced me that he is not the kind of man who will trample me under foot. He will never make me a doormat. He has no interest in me disappearing. And so, I have mellowed a lot. His unconditional, consistent love has taught me that it’s ok to admit I’m wrong, ok to put his needs ahead of mine sometimes. It’s ok to love like that.
It’s kind of like how the Apostle Paul said in Ephesians 5 that husbands should love their wives the way Christ loves the Church. I think my husband does that. Not perfectly, of course. He’s only human. But his love draws self-giving love out of me. Slowly, little by little I too am learning to love like that too.