Dan and I just celebrated our three-year wedding anniversary (and we’ve now been together for nearly five years), and it hit me that I’ve never actually shared many details about our love story here on the blog. I thought it would be fun to share more about how we met and what our dating years were like as we start out another year of married life!
I met Dan through a mutual friend in June 2011, just a few days before my 24th birthday. He lived in the suburbs at the time and was visiting a friend in Chicago, and we talked all night at a gathering where I knew everyone and he knew just that one person.
Dan immediately struck me as charming and kind, so I thought he’d just attached himself to me, the first friendly face he met, because he didn’t really have connections at the party. I didn’t put it together that he was interested in me romantically until he asked me out at the end of the night. Caught off guard entirely, and not sure that I was interested back, I mumbled something like “Okay, yeah . . . find me on Facebook!” as I awkwardly stumbled off with my friends.
We went out about a month later, meeting for coffee and walking around a forest preserve on the hottest day of the year. Not a great conversationalist myself, I was surprised by how easy it was to talk to Dan and how there was never a lull in our conversation; he gracefully buoyed us along and asked thoughtful questions.
I don’t remember the details of what he asked or what I said, but I remember thinking how nice it was to have someone ask me questions and be genuinely interested in the answers, because my previous boyfriend had probably asked fewer questions, and certainly less-thoughtful questions, in our two whole years of dating than Dan had asked in those two hours.
At the end of the date, Dan asked if he could see me again, and without hesitating, I said, “Sure, but I’d like to spend time with you just as friends.” My answer didn’t make sense to me at the time, but I couldn’t put the words back inside my mouth. He didn’t call me after that.
I spent the summer wondering if I’d made a horrible mistake, but feeling too prideful to ask Dan for another chance. I kept hoping we’d run into each other at an event, but since our only mutual friend had moved across the country, there was really no chance of it.
After a few weeks of hearing me wrestle and whine and wish for impossible things, my friend Hillary told me to put on my big-girl pants, apologize, and ask him out myself. So I did, via Facebook message, and that very night, we ran into each other at a birthday party for the aforementioned mutual friend, who had moved back to Chicago earlier that week.
We danced all night and went out on another date the next week. Before I knew what was happening, “Do you want to go out again this weekend?” turned into “What should we do this weekend?” every weekend, which turned into“Where do you see yourself living long-term?” and “How many kids do you want to have?” which turned into “I love you,” and “Will you marry me?” just over a year later.
We spent our dating years adventuring: taking day trips to Lake Geneva, dining al fresco in Chicago, sampling craft beers and ice cream all over the Midwest. We rode our bikes all over the suburbs and stayed up way too late talking on the phone.
Our dating relationship was mostly smooth sailing; despite my initial hesitation, I knew very early on — about two months in — that I was going to marry him. Dan, on the other hand, hemmed and hawed despite his deeply personal questions about my vision for my future family; he dragged his heels until his friends and family began to question him about why he hadn’t proposed yet.
Each time we talked about the possibility of marriage, Dan wasn’t ready and I was crushed; he’d leave it open-ended and unclear, and I’d cry after he left.
A few days after one of these talks that ended in my tears, we went ring shopping “just to see” what I liked. He went back three weeks later and bought me the rings I wear today.
Dan proposed while we were on a short-term mission trip to the Dominican Republic. He read aloud a letter he wrote to me before we left, envisioning our future and assuring me of the kind of marriage we would have and the kind of husband he would be, and I can honestly say that we are living the words of that letter now as we grow together and raise our daughter.
During our dating, God used Dan to bring to the surface and heal many of my insecurities, and he continues to today through Dan’s patience, genuine joy, and optimistic outlook.
I started dating Dan shortly after walking through some of the most difficult trials of my life: watching my parents divorce, leaving an abusive relationship, and battling an eating disorder. To this day, it surprises me that he still found me beautiful and worthy, not a giant red flag; that of all the women he could have set his sights on, he set them on me.
I knew right away that Dan is a better human than I am — less critical, less demanding, more hopeful, more patient — and I maintain, three years into marriage, that he is truly my better half.
I’ve never loved him more than I do right now, watching him love our daughter and take delight in everything she does, in every big smile she saves just for him. I can hardly believe we’ve been married for only three years, because it feels like we’ve lived a whole lifetime together. Though I can remember my life without him, of course, this is the year that I started to feel like I’ve always known him, like it never could have been anyone else.