I met my husband in the summer of 2000. I had been dating a guy off and on for a little over a year at that time. I wasn’t head over heels for the guy, but he was mostly kind to me and said he loved me, so I thought it was as good as it would get . . . at the ripe old age of nineteen. I didn’t have the most ideal relationship models growing up. So my dating expectations were based on movie references and what I imagined a fairytale relationship would be like, and that was it.
On the night I met my husband, my boyfriend and I had attended a party together, but my boyfriend had left early while I stayed out with friends. I had heard of this handsome, tall, athletic man. So I thought it was a ruse when he told me that night that he was shy. It made us laugh, and I told him I didn’t believe him. We then had humorous, sarcastic yet flirty exchanges for the rest of the evening. I wanted to learn more about this boy named Jason who was charming, hilarious, and very sweet.
I was used to guys flirting with me. But Jason was more than a flirt—he took the time to ask me questions. He actually wanted to know about me; my own boyfriend didn’t want to know about me! He just wanted to make out and go to field parties, to drink act stupid, and smoke cigarettes, which I found disgusting.
The rest of the night Jason and I chatted about different things, and I got to the point where I wanted to spend more time with him—I forgot that I even had a boyfriend—and I had asked him to kiss me. Seems silly now because that is such a goofy thing to do—to ASK for a kiss—but I did. And he said “no” because I had a boyfriend.
At that point I respected him and knew that he was someone I needed to get to know. A lot of guys think with their anatomy, and he didn’t. The fact that I was asking him for a kiss and he refused it out of respect for the relationship I was in spoke volumes about his character. I had never known that sort of friendship.
I immediately broke up with my boyfriend, and the following Monday, I went to lunch at Bob Evans with my new friend, Jason. We talked and laughed and got along perfectly. We understood each others’ humor. I didn’t want lunch to end. He told me he was leaving to go to Fort Myers with his family for vacation but that we could get together again, if I wanted to, once he returned.
I was swooning! I was partially upset too because I just met this amazing guy and things were going so smoothly and then he was leaving for a week! To me, that felt like forever. I was used to the feeling of abandonment, so I felt paranoia overshadow me. Would he forget about me? What if he met a girl in Florida who was a million times better? What if he realized he didn’t like me at all?
This was back before cell phones and the ease of communication we have today. I was lost for the entire time he was gone. Then, I received a postcard in the mail. I did a super giddy freak out before reading it. I told my best friend that if it said “I love you” then I would know he was crazy. I read it and it melted my heart. It was a very simple message that said he was thinking of me, hoped we could get together when he gets back, and signed his name—simple, but perfect.
He came back from the trip and we started spending more and more time with each other. We soon became inseparable, and he told me on August 14, 2000 that he wanted to make our relationship “official.” Why that day? Because he knew that it had always been a bad day for me. It was the day that my Grandpa Art passed away, and I had been very close to him. I knew at that point without a shadow of a doubt that Jason was the one for me.
Jason was thoughtful. He wrote me little notes and left roses on my car window while I was at work. He was caring. He would check on me whenever I wasn’t feeling well. Once, when I had an allergic reaction to a medication, he made a baking soda paste to stop the itching. I was covered head to toe in hives and he put this crazy gooey baking soda paste all over me without flinching. We wound up going to the emergency room anyway, because it was so out of control, but the fact that he was willing to do something so unorthodox in the very early stages of our relationship was very telling of who he was as a person—and how blessed I had become.
As a young couple, we were kind of laughed at by our friends who were in petty relationships. There was no “he said/she said” mumbo jumbo, none of the “Don’t tell so and so you saw me here” or “I just can’t be like this with him” going on. We were open and honest with each other and communicated with each other without fail. Did we argue at times when we didn’t see eye to eye? Absolutely. But we would share everything with each other, and it seemed like nobody understood that. We had a relationship unlike anyone else I had ever known, and honestly never could have dreamed of.
Over the next year we fell more deeply in love and I truly felt what it meant to be loved, something I hadn’t felt growing up. We decided we wanted to get married in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. We paid for it on our own—$300. We made it official on August 27, 2001.
We came back home and our families decided to throw us parties. A lot of the family members thought we were pregnant. A lot of them thought we were crazy. A lot of them thought we were stupid. Who gets married at twenty and nineteen these days?! There HAS to be a baby on the way. There wasn’t. (We didn’t have a baby for seven more years.) It was just that we had found and formed real love. And it was even better than I had imagined.