Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Veritas: Alex and Heidi

{real life love}

It sounds like something out of a movie, but it can definitely be real: sometimes, it seems, the most perfect love for you is one that was already there.  Heidi shared her story with me and I loved reading how her friendship with her husband Alex turned into romance thanks to his courage and her "yes."  She blogs about family life, decorating, the books she reads (hello girl after my own heart), and her sweet baby boy, Callan, at Notes From Heidi.

Me and my husband, Alexander, first met when he transferred in during my freshman year of college. He immediately began volunteering with the same organization I volunteered with, and we met in the car on the way to a weekend retreat. He was wearing a pink tshirt that said "Give Blood. Play Rugby" and I remember having a good conversation with him, and how he went out into the median of the highway to look ahead when we ended up stuck in traffic for an hour...but that was all. For a first impression, it was pretty unmemorable. He soon got caught up with school work and stopped volunteering, and we only exchanged pleasantries and the occasional cafeteria table until senior year.

During my freshman and sophomore years I really wasn't looking for a romantic relationship. I had little crushes here and there, but really didn't have a strong direction towards or away from a relationship. Toward the end of sophomore year I began complaining about boys being dumb; seniors were getting engaged, friends were pairing up, and I was spending the first summer away from my family and feeling lonely. First semester junior year, bam! Two different young men asked me for an "intentional relationship" within a three week time span, but they weren't the ones I was interested in. (Alex never said a word.) 

I left to spend a semester abroad studying in Germany, and while I was there, I began a long distance courtship with a friend from home. This courtship lasted about halfway through the Fall of senior year, when I broke it off. I couldn't picture myself actually marrying the young man, and so didn't see how or why we should continue courting.

I had actually begun to get to know Alex better before I broke off the courtship, though romantical thoughts didn't enter my mind until the next semester. Me, my roommate, and her fiance got together multiple nights a week to read and discuss Scripture and Alexander frequently came. It struck both of us at the time (though we realized it later) that we communicated very, very well. The next few months were quite eventful...

...In February he asked me to a dance and we went as friends. He won a raffle for a free dinner at a professor's house in April and, in the excitement of the moment, asked me to go with him to that as well. I said, "Sure!"

...We were in the same Shakespeare class and over the course of the next few weeks we texted, IM'd, or met up to study every single day. Constant contact + easy communication + Shakespeare + my quick crushes = major crush on my part.

...He remained oblivious; I got frustrated and anxious. He realized that he might be leading me on and broke contact for a whole week. I was a mess, and though he might not have admitted it, he missed me. We were good friends, and you can't just stop talking with good friends.

...We went to the professor's house for dinner and it was resolved that night, between me and my room mate, that in order to spare my heart, someone needed to say something to Alex. He needed to establish where exactly our relationship was headed. About the same moment his roommate tracked him down to give him the "What the heck are you doing?" speech, Alex casually said, "You know, I think I should ask Heidi out." 

Thus began our dating and courtship. We knew one another as friends and clearly established that we were dating specifically with the purpose of figuring out whether or not we wanted to get married. The tough part? I moved to the South to teach and he lived in California. He eventually ended up in Pennsylvania; even so, with a 5 hour separation, the next six months were brutal. Long distance is hard...it's a good thing that it "forces you to talk," but who wants to talk on the phone all the time? Who wants to only see the person you're growing to love twice a month? Not us. But it did sharpen our communication skills, and in the end it was a very good thing that we spent a year learning to live on our own first. We learned what quirks would bother us if we got married.  We learned some of the signals in more difficult conversations of the other person getting upset. We learned a lot. And other than those important topics we had to discuss right away, our relationship progressed naturally. Things came up and we talked about them; no subject was forced, we didn't beat things to death, and no red flags were raised.  Nothing said "this is definitely not ever going to work."

In a sort of coincidence, Alex and my dad ended up visiting me one weekend at the beginning of December. I learned later that this was the weekend when Alex asked for my dad's permission and blessing to marry me! My dad gladly gave it; it was decided. The next weekend, Alex surprised me with an afternoon visit. While it was weird, I knew that it was the sort of thing he would do (something I love about him...he's not afraid to do silly things for the sake of being romantic). He helped me grade papers, then we went for a walk by the river before he had to drive back. We meandered off the trail to be closer to the water...he got down on one knee...and I said "Yes". He said, "Good" (NB from Stephanie: you can read Heidi's immediate reaction to Alex's surprise and another version of their engagement story here!).

One thing I love about being married is how little things like that end up becoming rituals that make a relationship special. To this day, when one of us says "I love you," after the response "I love you, too" the answer is always "Good". Because marriage, becoming united, committing to raising a family and spending a lifetime together?  It is good.

Long distance engagement was harder than long-distance dating.  Now that we had decided we were going to be together, it felt like the most unnatural thing to be separated.  In addition to that difficulty, we were now kissing.  Though we remained pure and stuck to pre-established boundaries, the more physical you get, the harder it gets to wait. 

Alex also had a hard time knowing how to help me plan the wedding; with no family in the area, I was planning the wedding myself and he was in charge of the honeymoon. With a tight budget and limited resources, I had my fair share of meltdowns on the phone. Lots of little things were forgotten until the last minute: we forgot to order rings til two weeks before, we couldn't afford a caterer until a friend volunteered to do the reception a month before, I waited a day too late to order flowers and bought them at Kroger the day before... The day turned out to be beautiful and dreamy, and the only thing I would change would be to put on the photographer's contract formal portrait of the bride and groom, because we didn't get one of those.

Alex surprised me (i.e., spilled the beans three days before the wedding) with a honeymoon in Ireland. 

The rest is history, I suppose. We just celebrated our two year wedding anniversary and have a happy, thriving eight month old son. Possibly the hardest struggle has been financial; Alex has been through multiple jobs trying to provide enough to just pay the basic bills, and even though I could keep working we've decided that it is best for our family if I stay home. It's hard to have the faith to see the end of the hardships, but God is faithful and reminds us of it daily. 

I frequently wake up relieved, having had a nightmare about ending up in a different marriage and a different life, and find Alex contentedly sleeping beside me. The Lord provided me with a romantic, strong, dependable, responsible, hilarious, caring, faith-filled and faithful, sweet man. And I am forever grateful.

I myself never really dated along formal lines of courtship, but I love reading stories where intention, purpose and a commitment to God's will play such a huge role.  Chime in!  Any courtship stories of your own?  And please, indulge and humor me: if you'd like to share your love story on Captive the Heart, email me at stephanie.captivetheheart@gmail.com

3 comments:

  1. Haha. This sounds famillliarrrr :-)

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    Replies
    1. Readers: you can read Kristin and her hubby's story here!

      http://captivetheheart.blogspot.com/2012/04/veritas-jed-and-kristin.html

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  2. It's kind of healing to read similar stories...the world can be harsh to people who didn't date in a traditional way..

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