I remember when we were ready to get married, we didn’t have a lot of money so we looked up a little chapel in Gatlinburg, Tennessee and with all of $300 and our two young selves we booked our private wedding.
My husband, Jason, and I met and were married within a year. I was only 19 when I met him, and he was 18. We met at a typical teenage party through mutual friends.
On that magical night I connected more with this stranger than I had with anyone I had previously met. He actually cared to get to know me through conversation! At that time in my life I was hanging out with a bad crowd. Empty friendships had convinced me to accept a certain kind of poor treatment. Talking with Jason was far different from those empty experiences.
He wanted to know who I was, what I was interested in, what made me tick. I spent hours talking to this amazing man and then “poof!” he was gone. He had to take a friend home who had gotten drunk, and I had to work as a cashier at the local mom and pop grocery store the next morning. I couldn’t stop thinking about our conversation. I just knew he was special. This was before texting—the cell phones on the market then were the old school Nokia brand with the snake game. I felt like I would never see him again.
But during my shift, he stopped by to visit me and even left a single rose on my car. He asked me to lunch because he was getting ready to leave on a family vacation the following day. I immediately said yes.
For some reason, we just clicked. We laughed. And we enjoyed each other’s company. It was, and still is, unlike any other experience I had ever had in my life, yet it is also so simple. I never had felt such joy and comfort with someone, especially because growing up I didn’t have many good examples of love around me. My life was surrounded by pain and heartache and loss.
Genuine love was foreign to me, and I immediately thought this was my fairy tale.
In a lot of ways, I was right. But our story hasn’t been like a Disney movie. We’ve been together for sixteen years now—we’ll be married for fifteen. And, boy, have we been through storms.
About six years into our marriage, we were still living in an apartment. We didn’t have any children, and we weren’t really in a set career mode. I personally felt like we weren’t getting any closer to the American Dream we heard so much about. I felt like no matter how hard we tried, we kept falling short. And, being a young adult who didn’t have much of a solid foundation to begin with, I started to feel like I was ready to give up. But Jason wasn’t ready to give up, and every single day of my life I am grateful for that. He remembered why we fell in love when I was lost.
We decided to go to therapy and that we wanted to work on things. Slowly, we fell back into place. Things started to perk up. I got a promotion at work, so did he. We moved into our first home and then before we knew it, we were expecting our first child. To this day, I feel like we had to go through that personal brokenness to really reassess what we wanted for our lives and for our marriage, and to know how far we each were willing to go for lasting love. I am indebted to my husband for sticking through it with me when I was at my lowest.
Throughout the years there have been a lot of thoughts surrounding our young marriage. People in the beginning thought we were expecting. We weren’t. Some thought we were stupid. We weren’t. Some thought we were blinded by love and would divorce within five years. We weren’t blinded, and we didn’t divorce. People thought we were crazy, and the jury is still out on that one!
But the people closest to us—and we ourselves—have come to terms with the fact that Jason and I just want to love each other. We have chosen to love each other. Would we recommend marrying young to everyone? Typically, no. It’s hard work. You have to be in it for the right reasons. You have to love and grow with each other in just the right ways or else it could crumble—we have seen it many times even in our own marriage! We just didn’t let it happen.
But at the end of the day, Jason and I wouldn’t change our story for a second. It may have started off as a fairytale, but going through the hard things and choosing the love we have now is way better.