Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Marriage in All Its Glory

For those that don't know me personally, I should inform you that up until a few years ago I was completely and utterly anti-marriage. In my mind, I was the eternal Carrie Bradshaw and being tied down was never a path I wanted to travel down. So, I thought I would share our journey on how we went from being two completely lost souls to the happy, married couple we are today. Forewarning, this story is not a fairy tale. As previously stated, we have both made some questionable life choices (and occasionally still do), but our relationship works for us. And when times are rough, I like to remind myself that without the hard times we wouldn't get to experience the good.

So here goes...

Jake and I began dating when we were fresh off the farm (I was 20, he was almost 21). We were young and dumb and constantly in search of ways to avoid our responsibilities. We met at a party at my duplex my Junior year in college (although we later discovered that we had actually met once the year before but he was in a relationship and I was more interested in the neighbor boy down the street). The next morning, I came downstairs to find this dude on my couch. As I was cleaning up the 593 empty beer cans in the kitchen, he nonchalantly asked me to be his girlfriend. I laughed and told him I would never date a guy who slept on my couch (I guess the jokes on me here since I ended up marrying him).

A few weeks and a handful of parties later, we found ourselves sitting in my garage deep in conversation at 3:00 a.m.  It turns out, he wasn't such a creep and was actually a pretty interesting guy. We spent the next few weeks hanging out with our mutual friends and getting to know one another (I guess this would be considered our "dating" period). Then, on the night of my 20th birthday, we decided to become exclusive.

The remainder of that first year brought a lot of ups and downs, and I'm not sure why we ever expected anything else when we led such different lives. I was in my third year of college working part-time to help pay the bills (although I frequently called the parentals to "float me a loan" because I couldn't make that month's rent) while Jake worked a full-time job and was completely independent.

The school year ended as did our lease. I moved out of the duplex, started my Senior year, and began a new job as a waitress at Chili's. Enter an entirely new set of friends and a massive shift in my social calendar. I moved into a small apartment with an acquaintance I had met while living in the duplex. She was three years younger than me and just starting her Freshman year at a community college. We were as different as night and day, but it didn't matter much as I spent all of my time either at school, at work, or hanging out with my friends from work. Jake and I continued to "date" but this point in my life is pretty much a drunken blur. I managed to graduate from college (and actually did pretty well that last year despite my partying ways) and then I hit a wall. I was a college graduate working full-time as a waitress, and I was completely miserable. By now, I had moved out of the old apartment and into a new apartment with one of my best friends, and, in an attempt to make myself happy, I  broke up with Jake. I'm not sure why I thought it was going to instantly make things better, but I had convinced myself otherwise. It turns out, it was possibly the worst mistake I ever could've made and, eventually, we found our way back to each other.

Not long after, I landed my current job and five months later Jake and I moved in together. And not just anywhere, but into the worst. duplex. ever. Not only was our landlord a straight up witch, but there was a shooting down the street within the first couple of weeks followed by the SWAT team surrounding our neighbor's house in the middle of the night a few days after that. In retrospect, this entire living arrangement was a horrible idea. Neither of us was ready for co-living. Not to mention Jake had made some poor life choices which created immense burdens on our already fragile relationship. But, by the grace of God, we managed to survive the year (and multiple cases of "I'm leaving you if you don't get your shit together"), moved out of that hell hole, and turned a corner for the better. Our next rental was in a much better area as was our relationship. We had a heart-to-heart and decided that we were in it for the long haul, so we got our shit together and fully committed ourselves to making the relationship work.

The next year, we moved into a rental house and focused on working, paying off our debts, and saving for a house. We were soooo tired of renting and ready to settle down and start a family. That fall, Jake planned a weekend getaway for our seven year anniversary, and we (yes, it was a joint decision) decided to get engaged. While getting ready for dinner that evening, he got down on one knee and asked me to spend forever with him. We immediately called our family and friends to tell them that after seven years, we would finally be getting married!

We knew right away that we didn't want to have an extravagant wedding. In fact, the idea of a destination wedding came to us so suddenly that it seemed as if it were the only option. There would be no fuss or extensive planning - we simply had to pick a resort and they would do the rest. As soon as we told our family and friends our idea, they were on board (well, most of them anyhow). Unfortunately, some were unable to attend due to pregnancies, time off, and the monetary aspect, but ultimately it was our decision. In the end, everyone understood and we were able to have a reception back home for those who were unable to attend the live event.

After months of anticipation, Jake and I were married on June 16, 2012 at 4:00 p.m. on a beautiful, white, sandy beach in Negril, Jamaica surrounded by 20 of our family members and closest friends. The ceremony was simple but our vows were from the heart. It was absolutely everything I could've ever wanted, and I'm so glad we went the route that we did. A couple of days after the wedding, our guests left and we were able to spend a few days in paradise as husband and wife. It was the trip of a lifetime and nothing will ever compare to it.

We returned home from Jamaica to our new house (which we had purchased just three months prior to our wedding). We spent 18 months completing one DIY project after another, but it wasn't until Taylor arrived the following fall that it finally felt like home. Parenthood has challenged our relationship in a completely different way, but her birth has strengthened our bond and given us a renewed sense of love for each other. I never knew just how deeply I could love my husband until I saw him as a father. (I realize this is sappy, but those of you who have been in my shoes will completely understand where I am coming from.)

He is my rock and my best friend. I am so very lucky to have him, and I am thankful for our journey thus far.