So where did we leave off? Oh yes, ourstory.
She wore blue jeans, black boots, and a black blouse. We drove in my car to a Thai restaurant in Temecula. We talked for hours, yet the time flew by. It felt as though we’d known each other in some previous life. (Those readers who don’t believe in such things, feel free to replace the metaphysical reference with something more palatable.) Also, this “talking for hours” thing would become a long-standing pattern. We’re both communicators, which is normally a wonderful thing, but can be a downfall in particular situations.
Some of you may remember back when Dr. Drew (Pinsky) had a radio show, and his advice on relationships was always “More mystery, less history.” Well, let me tell you, he was and is correct. And boy should I have remembered that sh*t. But we both had such an enormous amount of history, that it came to almost define our lives (for a time). I mean, we were mid-late 30s at the time. You don’t get to that stage in life without some scars to show for it.
In what will hopefully become a regular part of our lives, to write and share our own experiences with other people in similar situations, I give you:
Lesson 1: STOP over-sharing.
To clarify, this is not a criticism of her, at all. This one is on me. Yes, we both had life experiences that made us who we are (or were, at the time, anyway), but there is an art and consideration to the way you pull back the layers on that onion of the past which, if done right, and to complete the metaphor, doesn’t make the other party cry. Be considerate of their feelings, put yourself in their shoes and ask, “If I were her, would I want to hear this about past-thing-X?” And be honest with yourself — otherwise there’s no way you can be honest with them.
Anyway. Back to happy story time.
We dated fairly consistently for the first couple months. On our second date, another dinner out, she actually brought along the toddler, which was a refreshing experience to me because, while I had met the kids casually, I had yet to experience a full-on outing with any of them. Thankfully this would start happening more in the near future. We’d generally go back to her house and spend hours talking at her kitchen counter over drinks/tea/coffee. I think we stayed til almost 2am one time.
We knew that we had a lot of “catching up” to do, as it were. Because of our age and our life journeys, we didn’t have time to mess around with casual “let’s see if this goes anywhere” style dating. So we talked. A LOT. And for the most part, this was a good thing. (PS: when it wasn’t, it was almost always me over-sharing and focusing on the past instead of the present. Like I said, lessons learned!)
As I’ve mentioned, whenever I was with her, it felt like home. I played with the kids, hung out with her friends and our mutual friends, and cooked a lot of burgers in her back yard. I found myself missing her during the week and wanting to spend more and more time with her. We had undeniable chemistry, both physical and mental.
It was easy to fall in love. In fact, she even predicted it. We still laugh about that. Not because she was being self-aggrandizing or over-confident. But because it was (and is) true. She was (and is) exactly the woman I need, with the sense of self-worth and self-realization that perfectly balances my own.
I knew that I loved her when she threw me a karaoke party for my birthday with our closest mutual friends. I mean, I had felt the feelings, the spark, before that, but it was truly cemented in my mind with the way she cared so deeply and thoughtfully as to make my birthday something that special and memorable. It was the most fun I’d ever had in one night, that’s for sure.
But true love is loving someone for who they are, not what they do. This was merely a item on the timeline that I could point at and say “yes, there!”. She IS kind and generous and thoughtful and fun to be around. She IS supportive and driven. She IS the light of my life, and an embodiment of good energy, beauty and intelligence.
Three months later, I asked her to move in with me. Now, when we tackle our “helping others by our experience” project, this will be a much larger chapter of lessons-learned. But for now, I’ll just say that I had some work to do and she helped me do it, the right and healthy way, and she stuck with me even when I pushed back unreasonably. Again, focusing on the positive, she made this house our home. She put an incredible effort and energy into redecorating and making sure that I liked everything that she did, and I feel that we truly have a special partnership in the way we create a space together.
Two months after that, we were engaged. We picked out the ring together (yes, I highly recommend this), and I proposed the week that it came in from the jeweler. The next day we shared the wonderful news with our family, friends, and church family. Shortly after that, we started trying to pick a date. And all the other planning that goes along with that.
As anybody who’s self-planned a wedding will tell you, it’s a big project. We’ve drawn-up at least half a dozen outlines of timing, vendors, decor, and guest-lists. But we’ve finally settled on just about everything. (Not a moment too soon, as I write this approximately 2 months out!) Through this journey, we’ve learned a lot about each other. And to paraphrase some superb advice we read in a couple’s devotional book, “Don’t let the wedding planning consume your life.” In other words, don’t let it get in the way of just living and being with each other. This is especially true in cases where the timeline is somewhat compressed, as ours is. And I feel like we’ve done a pretty good job of following that advice.
I’m excited to marry her. It’s the most certain decision I’ve ever made. Backed by the truest love I’ve ever felt. And the most real life, which we’re building, with each other.