Broken Rules and Good Outcomes

May 14, 2007

It was September several years ago, a lonely weekend night hot on the heels of yet another promising relationship that fizzled before it ever got off the ground.  I was thinking longingly of the stereotypical date night that I was spending in front of my computer and TV when a commercial for eHarmony came on.  I snickered at their stupid advertisments focusing on the personality profile given a pointless monetary value, since they’d never actually charged anyone for it.  Then I shrugged.  I had too much time on my hands anyway, and everyone knows I’m a sucker for personality tests.  I logged onto the site to search for the loophole that would charge me the $40 for the profile, and unable to find one, I decided to take the test.

Several long hours later, I found out what eHarmony thought of my personality.  As expected, it was dead on.  I’m pretty predictable from those stupid personality tests, so I wasn’t surprised.  Satisfied with how I chose to spend a few hours of another lonely date night, I was ready to shut down the computer and go to bed when I realized eHarmony wasn’t done with me.  They automatically run your personality profile against those in their database and match you up with promising guys, free of charge.  I was able to read about and see pictures of several men they thought I would be compatible with.  I was looking at a list of single, desperate men who lived in my area who could potentially be “the one.”

The next morning I checked my e-mail first thing after waking up and discovered one of the guys was interested in me and wanted to chat.  I debated for about a heartbeat and then forked over the $100 to sign up with eHarmony for three months.  I have never regretted that decision or that lost money.

You see, several months later I stumbled across a profile that intrigued me more than any I’d seen yet.  I didn’t wait for this man to contact me but immediately initiated contact with him, hoping he’d be one of the few who responded quickly.  He was.  We had an immediate chemistry.  By Christmas, a mere two weeks later, we were chatting on the phone.  I found him easy to chat with, kind of like a female friend, but my heart would race in a way I hadn’t felt in ages.  I remember even after that first phone call that I wondered whether it was possible I’d finally found “the one.”

We set up our first date for New Year’s Eve: a party with his church group.  It was innocent and safe, the perfect first date with an anonymous man I’d met on the Internet.  But then he flew home from the Christmas visit with his parents two days before the scheduled date.  He called me from his car as he left the airport and suggested we meet that night instead of postponing the inevitable for another two days.  I knew it was breaking all the suggested rules for meeting an Internet friend, but I agreed.  I quickly called one friend to tell her about my last-minute date (the one wise thing I did all night), but more because I was excited about it than anything.  I called him back a few minutes later to give him directions to pick me up at my apartment, broken rule #2.

I’ll never forget the moment I opened the door to see the man standing there.  We’d seen pictures of each other, of course, but there was a fire in his eyes that pictures couldn’t capture.  I remember standing there in the open doorway for an eternity as I stared open-mouthed at him.  He remembers it as merely a second, a totally appropriate amount of time.  That second was long enough for one thought, though: “This is the man I’m going to marry.”  It wasn’t technically love at first sight, but I knew from that moment that I would love him.

The date lasted long into the night.  Finally at about two in the morning, we got up the nerve to kiss for the first time (another broken rule; I don’t kiss on the first date).  I think I was the one to initiate the kiss, but it’s hard to remember for sure any longer.

We spent every free moment together from that point on.  We “napped” together in the same bed the next day (yes, it turned into a make-out session, of course).  That night we slept together for the first time–completely chastely.  It was too late for me to drive back across town by the time we felt we could end the date.  We never made it to the church party the next night, even though we still tell everybody that was our first date.

Sleepovers became commonplace on the weekends and holidays, even though we never slept together in that sense.  He knew I was saving myself for marriage and respected that.  But then he lost his job.  His house sold the same day.  He was jobless and homeless all of a sudden.  Without a job to anchor him anywhere specific, he found an apartment within walking distance from me.  The day he moved in, the same day I met his parents for the first time, was the last time I spent the night in my own apartment.

Officially, we never moved in.  I spent some time at my apartment every day, feeding the cat and getting a new change of clothes and other incidentals for my overnight bag.  As long as I wasn’t keeping more than my toothbrush and contact case at his place, I felt like we weren’t living together.  But obviously we were.  It’s not hard to see how we finally gave in and “did the naughty” before we were married.

Everyone thinks that happened once, a month after getting engaged.  Of course, that’s not true.  The first time was about two weeks before getting engaged.  The one time that we couldn’t hide and lie about happened a month after getting engaged, the time we conceived PJ.  It is true that we took precautions, though, and PJ should not have been conceived at all.  Finding out I was pregnant changed everything–except for the relationship with M and me.  If anything, it only solidified what was already there.

Rushed courtship and engagement or not, inconveniently timed pregnancy or not, M and I have been going strong ever since.  Two years ago today, we got married, and I have never once regretted that decision.  Never did I doubt that M would stay with me through the pregnancy, and never once have I thought he would consider leaving me for any reason.  Any time now, our newlywed phase should end, and I feel confident that when it does, we will only be stronger than ever.  Or possibly, our newlywed phase ended by our six-month anniversary, when we brought our premature baby home to our brand-new house, the end of the most stressful first six months of marriage ever.  I still love that man more than anything and know he feels the same about me.  I’m  happier than I’ve ever been before, and I hope everyone gets to experience love like this sometime in their lives.

our wedding photo

my bridal shot

my favorite picture from the wedding