Blind dates seem to be a thing in my family. My mom and dad met on a blind date in October 1978. He was a local boy, firefighter/ EMT; she was a nurse moved north after graduating from Georgia Baptist. My aunt and uncle met on a blind date on May 8th, 1976. I know this date with a certainty because 8 years later, I was born. My South Georgia grandfather began courting my California-by-way-of-West-Virginia grandmother from a blind date. Even my brother met his wife Emily on a blind date, set up by her own brother. But in 2001 when I was asked to go on a triple blind date with a college freshman from Banks County, I didn’t think this chance encounter would lead to anything significant.
You see in high school, I wasn’t very datable. I wasn’t the prettiest, the smartest, the most talented, or the most athletic. I was ridiculously average at best. True, I had a really awesome core group of friends but for the most part, we were all average, often overlooked.
In 8th grade, I thought I had blossomed. I had cool friends. We did cool things such as Skate Country every Friday night (I still never learned to backwards skate) but that didn’t last long. I was not good at keeping friends. Easily influenced, tricked, and used as a scapegoat, I quickly realized that being one of the cool kids was just not in the cards for me. I had my first true crush in 8th grade. He gave me his band pin! (Apparently, pins were still a thing). He was smart, good looking, and athletic. His friends quickly helped him see the error of his ways and we took the summer before high school to “meet new people.” He is now a professional CrossFitter with a beautiful wife and family and works for the Harvard Business School . . . No joke! (I’m not a stalker, we’re Facebook friends!) But clearly, we took different paths!
By my junior year, I caught another fella’s eyes. He was Bad News Bears all the way around; attentive but arrogant, hardworking but lacked ambition and direction, charming but deceptive. By the end of my junior year that relationship ended just as traumatic as it started. Praise be! That young man was clearly not husband material (let’s just leave it at that).
So by the time I was a senior in high school I was already pretty jaded regarding relationships. I’ve always been surrounded by amazing marital role models. No matter how upset my parents could get at us or each other, they were always unified. My dad could make my mom crack a smile even in the midst of the most serious scolding (him or me). But like any dramatic high school senior, I thought that love was just an illusion, something that someone so very average like me would have to settle for.
But in walked Jason White. Well, not literally. His friend Robert did though, through the doors at Sears. I was working my first job. There I made a great new friend, Morgan. She was a senior at the city high school and was someone to be envied. She could talk so easily to customers and even easier to boys. She was beautiful and bubbly and clearly not average. She caught Robert’s eye and somewhere down the road a triple blind date was formed; two girls from Gainesville, one from Oakwood, with three boys from Banks County.
We agreed to meet in the parking lot of the Gainesville mall. Not sure what time but the sun was still high in the sky when a new custom Pontiac Firebird with the T-tops out pulled up. It was blaring Nelly’s 2000 album, Country Grammar and I thought to myself, these guys can’t possibly be sons of farmers. Well, I was a third right. Only knowing what Robert looked like, I saw the other two guys hunkered down real cool and thought, no thanks (sorry, friends!). I resigned myself to just having a good time with my girlfriends because love was already off the table. We followed the typical Friday-night-in-Gainesville-early-2000’s-protocol and ate at Applebee’s before heading back to the Gainesville Mall theater. We saw Joy Ride. One hour and thirty-seven minutes of newcomer Paul Walker and 2000’s star LeeLee Sobieski, running for their lives from a psychotic Mack truck driver. Not my cup of tea but I sat there with my friends, enjoying my Coke icee just the same. And that was it. The triple blind date came to an end with the only real romantic spark between the already talking couple; Mogan and Robert.
I didn’t think twice about the other two guys and I’m assumed they didn’t think twice about me. But several weeks later I received a phone call from an unknown number on my cell. “Hello,” I answered. “Hey, this is Jason,” a young man on the other line responded. “Jason, my cousin Jason?” I asked puzzled. “No. Jason that you went on a date with a few weeks back” he responded. “Jason, Jason,” I thought to myself probably for longer than I was supposed to. Before I could respond he continued, “I guess you go on a lot a dates with a lot of Jasons. (Right there his sarcasm got me). He continued, “But I wanted to take you out on another if you would let me.” After explaining that he was given my number from Morgan when they bumped into each other on her date night with Robert, Jason was given the go ahead that I was expecting his call. Yeah, Morgan forgot that little detail of telling me that. Oh well, the following weekend we were all back out to our dinner and a movie routine which we carried on for months. Usually at least two or three couples were in the mix but we kept the routine steady for Friday nights. Jason and I didn’t date just the two of us. After all, he hadn’t met my dad, it was hunting season of course so his weekends were booked. But we talked and texted and became great friends.
Well as the story goes, he quickly won my heart with his honesty, loyalty, and ridiculously witty humor. To this day, no one makes my family laugh more than Jason, including my 85-year-old grandfather in South Georgia. Whenever we go home for a visit, I am guaranteed at least two times when Jason makes Papa laugh to tears. He’s just magnetic that way.
Which brings me to today. Today I am proud to celebrate ten years of marriage. We met on October 12th, 2001 and were married six years and six months to that date; May 12th, 2007. Jason makes me feel anything but average. Anything but overlooked. He sees me; blatant faults and all, and loves me still. Nothing is more exposing than marriage. I mean, when you pee with the door open, all secrets are out!
But marriage isn’t easy. People always say this but I have now lived it. It’s like enrolling in the most hands on educational experience where pop quizzes spring to life in the most inopportune times and exams never cover the content material. But marriage has also been the biggest blessing of my life because I learned the most about myself, my family, and my Savior through it. So in honor of our adventurous ten years, here are ten things I’ve learned (again, in almost no particular order).
1. Don’t cut corners on things that matter.
For example; puppy food, toilet paper, and mayonnaise. They will throw it up. It won’t get the job done. And your husband will know the difference.
2. Don’t just think things. Communicate them.
As much as I am a talker, writer, etc. I am also a processor. I often think through things so much, even solicit so much advice from others, that I often fail to communicate to the one who deserves my communication the most; Jason. This has resulted in double booked family calendars, frivolous financial spending, and one almost-incomplete-still-really-unsure-about shoulder tattoo.
3. Always have a backup.
This is Jason’s rule for shopping pretty much anything. Buying ketchup? Buy two. Buying toothpaste? Buy the multipack. Buying kittens? Just kidding. He did let me have two kittens early into our marriage when he was soft, but once they went to be with Jesus (natural causes), he made a dog lover out of me. And as my Instagram proves, I’m more than okay with that.
4. (On that same note) Mutts make the best pets.
My self-appointed, first-year mentor teacher sent me home on an early release snowy day with a basket, a blanket, a puppy, and high anxiety. Jason and I had not even talked about furchildren. We had just moved into a new home a few months into our marriage and here I was with something that could eat and pee through that new home. I stopped by his office on my way home to break the news to him in case I needed to make a Humane Society pit stop. He opened the passenger side door and his heart melted. She was curled up asleep, with a little bit of white peeking through all that black on her exposed belly. She was ours. Aussie, Poopie McPooperson, became our first born. When his parents met her the following night, they were shocked. She wasn’t a Lab. They had always had Labs and even suggested that we put her aside so they could buy us one. But just hours into our hearts we could not be swayed. That puppy changed our lives. She turned out to be the one thing Jason always asked for when he came out of a seizure. “Where’s Aussie?” he would ask the paramedics looking around the room for her protective self. I took Aussie’s mutt-ness as a metaphor for me. Yeah, I’m sure I’m not the pick of the litter that Jason’s well educated parents would have selected for their only child. But I was his choice. And sometimes the best things in life just appear, from a blind date, or in a basket.
5. (Following the same thought) Leave your insecurities at the marriage door.
I felt like I had a lot to live up to when we were newlyweds. His parents were successful, educated, wealthy, professional, well established Banks County-ians. I was a perfectionist, control freak, with a bookoo of insecurities. Every time I felt like I didn’t live up to the predetermined ideals of my newly established roles (wife, homemaker, teacher, daughter-in-law), I would emotionally beat myself up. Loving someone who is emotional is hard. Loving someone who is emotionally raw and insecure is harder. I should have given myself more grace. I was a work in progress. I still am.
6. Don’t bulldoze your way into getting what you want.
I think I was a bully early into our marriage. I was a retail manager turned high school English teacher at age twenty-three and I loved bossing people around. I mean, I was good at it. But bullies and bosses don’t belong in a marriage. In fact, most of what I bulldozed my way into getting never turned out as planned. His logical-ness completely balanced my emotional-ness. Too bad it has taken me years to see it.
7. Sometimes one of you must take the first leap of faith to clear the path for the other to follow.
In December of 2009 when I told Jason I was going to bring home a teenager to live with us, it did not go well. I distinctly remember crying myself to sleep; torn between what my heart and my head was demanding I do (bring this child into our home) and feeling the hurt and disappointment when Jason just couldn’t or wouldn’t concede. Well, remember when I said “don’t bulldoze?” Well, I’m pretty sure I did. In hindsight, I would never change that action, only the process. I should have waited for God to tell Jason what He was so plainly telling me. I took the first step and leapt right from the teacher/ adviser role into guardian / mother / sister figure of a young woman with more abandonment issues than all fifteen seasons of Dr. Phil. Unfortunately after five years, those abandonment issues would leave us estranged but the faith that God pre-destined in that one act, has led Jason and I closer to the cross and each other.
8. Don’t make a habit of going to bed without each other.
True, Jason and I have very different sleeping patterns, meaning I need a lot of it. Him, no so much! But we’ve found a balance and a routine. I snuggle up on the couch every night with my blanket and a cup of hot tea. Me in my sectional corner, him in his. Notoriously by the time he starts a movie, I’m out. He’ll finish the movie, wake me and the kids up, and we trudge off to bed together as a family. It might sound silly but just the thought of sleeping alone for even a few hours is sad to me.
9. Date nights matter!
Yes, we don’t have children (you know, the kind without fur), but that doesn’t mean the hustle and bustle of life doesn’t get in the way. We share five jobs between us (Teacher, CPA/ Small Business Owner, Teacher, Writer, Spin Instructor. I’m sure you can tell which is which). If we keep our schedules full, we can easily go weeks without sharing a meal tougher; out or at home. Which is why we advise setting aside time to get out, away, and be intentional. We have to purposefully create space for each other and have heart felt conversations. Again, this goes back to advice number two: communicate things.
10. Lastly listen.
Don’t just communicate with each other, but actively listen. Listen to what is spoken and what is unspoken. Listen to how your heart strings pull. Listen to God who often pulls those heart strings. I’m sure most of my faults as a wife could have been prevented if I would have only taken the time to listen instead of acting.
Whew! I know this was a long one, friends! But when you are speaking about the love of your life, the relationship that has changed everything, there are just not enough words!
Want to know what Jason has learned these past ten years? Come back next week for his list; “it’s short, simple, easy to remember” (as Captain Jack would say). And I promise you’ll get a good laugh!
Till then. Happy 10 year anniversary to my very best friend! Thank you for opening my eyes and my heart.
The Big Bang Theory, Series 03 Episode 23 – The Lunar Excitation