*For clarity purposes, when I refer to my “mom” or “dad” I am referring to the loving couple that took me in after my parents finally lost custody. When I refer to my biological parents, that is how I refer to them, biological.*
I had an arranged marriage.
Hahaha, not really but sort-of. It’s a running joke that our moms set us up because they were best friends and seemed to be very set on us getting together.
I’d just gotten out of a long relationship which began when I was a freshman in high school so I was not “looking” to date anyone and honestly just wanted to put my focus on my college studies and enjoy my youth before “adulting” became a necessity.
I can remember the first time I laid eyes on my now husband. It was at church and he was in town visiting his family. He lived and worked in Oklahoma at the time. He is the third of four brothers and I knew his other brothers well so I had heard tales of this “other brother” but not yet met him. I watched him as he was walking down the steps talking to his family outside the church. He was so handsome that he took my breath away. I know that sounds dramatic but I’m dead serious. My mind replays that exact moment in slow motion with a blurred filter only focused on him.
I didn’t actually meet him just yet. I can’t remember the first time we spoke to each other but I do remember he ended up moving back to Texas and was working for my dad helping him with the landscaping business. I was a nurse’s aide and during the early morning hours and late afternoons we would cross paths at my house as he met my dad for work.
One day, I think we were in the car, my mom asked me out of the blue what I thought of that Morris boy, Nathaniel. I casually told her I thought he was nice and left it at that, thinking nothing of it. Then she said she thought he was very handsome and wondered if I thought he was handsome too. I told her he was cute but I also wanted her to know I was not at all interested in dating anyone at the time. I went on to tell her that I really just wanted to stay focused on school and I wanted to be single for a while considering it had been a good four years since I had actually been single. I think I remember her telling me that she thought he might like me, which secretly made my heart jump with excitement because I knew I was physically attracted to him and I loved his family already, so it would be sort of the perfect match but I told her once again, I didn’t want to date.
Well, we roll around to a Friday night sometime later and I was in my bedroom, probably reading a book or listening to music, since that was what I did at the time. My dad opens my door and tells me he doesn’t like to see me “moping around” on a Friday night and that I should be out with friends. Well, all my friends had boyfriends they were hanging out with so I was fine being at home. My dad informs me that him and my mom are going out to eat and I was to get dressed and come with them. Free dinner? Sure, why not. As I was getting ready I heard the doorbell ring but I left it alone thinking my dad would get it because he liked to get the door when he was home. The doorbell rang again, then one more time so I headed to go answer it. I opened the door and standing there all cleaned up and looking way too handsome for words was Nathaniel. I asked him what he was doing at my door and he told me that my parents had invited him out to eat with them. Oh I knew what was happening immediately. I was not happy about it either.
I knew better than to argue about going to dinner but I made it a point to sit as far away from this guy as possible in the car, then when we got to the restaurant I placed my order and immediately left the table to go stand outside on the balcony over the water. You could see the balcony from the table. As I stood overlooking the water, I was muttering to myself about how rude I thought it was to be put in that situation. I was angry and hurt that my stated feelings didn’t seem to matter. As I’m standing there gazing at the water and letting my anger stir, a little girl, maybe 3 or 4 years old comes up to me and wants to have a conversation. I was not into it. I really just wanted to be left alone and pretty much told this kid so but she was persistent and kept trying to engage me.
At that moment, apparently Nathaniel was watching me interact with this child and what he saw was completely different from reality. He saw the girl he was interested in getting to know better, taking precious time to speak with the sweet and adorable little girl and it was at that moment he decided he really liked me. Now we did not discover the differences in how that particular story played out for each other until many years of marriage. We still laugh about it to this day.
We ended up dating by August of that year and were engaged by the following February, then married in December, a week before Christmas. It was a quick transition for me as I went from breaking up with my high school boyfriend, in part because he wanted to get married, to not wanting to date, to dating, to marriage all in less than 18 months.
I told my now husband pretty soon after I realized the relationship was serious about all the things I went through with my biological parents. It was a lot for him to deal with but he stood by me even though at the time I was in the process of trying to build a relationship with my biological dad. Knowing the horror of what my biological dad did to me, he still shook his hand when he met him and asked him for my hand in marriage when the time came. My biological mom was not in the picture as much but I was also trying to repair that relationship so he met her and treated her lovingly too. It was amazing to see him act with such grace to people he knew had hurt the woman he loved deeply. He became my example and the picture of God’s grace and love in my life.
Through all the heartache, all the pain, all the nervous breakdowns, panic attacks and chaos he has stood firmly by my side and has been my strength when I had none. He held my hand when I found out my biological dad and brother were in a horrific car accident and I cried for a “dad” I would never have and couldn’t even explain why I would miss him but my heart broke because I would miss the idea of the dad he was supposed to be. He held me when all the sudden in the middle of a hospital room the doctors and nurses were scrambling to save my life and the life of our unborn son because they had lost his heartbeat. He waited outside the operating room and was handed our son while the doctors told him they were still working on me so he faced the idea of raising our family on his own. He let me cry out when I found out my biological mom had breast cancer and let me be there for her when he knew that it would probably kill me. He embraced me when I finally had to let her go because it was killing me to try and take care of her when she returned to her favorite role as my abuser. He has listened to my tell him about my darkest moments. He has been there when the repressed memories rear their ugly head and I have to relive something so traumatic my brain hid it away so I would hopefully forget it.
He is there for me and that is something I lived the first 14 years of my life never knowing existed in a human relationship. He is my love.