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I assumed I would meet my husband-to-be in college and would be married in my early twenties. When that didn't happen and I had no prospects in graduate school, I felt pretty hopeless. The relationships I did have couldn't have been more dysfunctional. I wish I could say my initial relationship with my husband was different, but it wasn't.

I met my husband in a bar after he hit on my engaged friend. Romantic, huh? He had had several beers so when he asked for my phone number, I told him I wouldn't write it down. If he remembered it after I said it once, fine. I was very surprised to hear from him the next evening. We began dating sporadically when he happened to be in town.

He did just about everything wrong. I won't recount his dating sins for you, lest you despise him as I did. I broke up with him after several dates and was as surprised by his response as I was that he remembered my phone number (he later admitted he ran to his vehicle and wrote my number down when I was in the bathroom). After my inital breakup, he told me he didn't blame me. He apologized for his bad behavior and committed to changing. I was so impressed with his attitude that I gave him another try. (I didn't understand at the time that my husband was a true salesman).

It wasn't long, however, before I had had enough and broke up with him again. He gave me the same contrite response and added in some roses. I didn't have anyone else in the wings, so I took him back once again. Everything was going okay until he left for three weeks. He called me while he was gone and rather than say he missed me, he joked about the matter that had resulted in the last breakup.

I was so disgusted that I went out with a girlfriend and latched onto a guy whose only date-worthy characteristic was that he repeatedly said, "You're hot." I spent enough time with the 6'6" 300 pound guy to discover that he, too, could be quite irritating. But when my now husband returned from his trip, I broke the news to him that we were through. I was shocked by how emotionally he took the news. But I didn't relent, even when he called later and tried to change my mind several times. In an effort to confirm to myself that I had made the right decision, I decided to take the new big boyfriend to my cousin's wedding back home. He didn't own any clothing besides sweats, so I "lent" him the money to buy something to wear to the wedding.

My mother was mortified when she met him, but I couldn't worry about that. At least I had a date for the wedding. He sat head and shoulders above everyone else. Everything was fine until the soloist (a family friend) was singing while the bride and groom struggled to light the unity candle. Everyone began giggling and best as I can surmise, the soloist thought they were laughing at him. He completely choked. That's when the buffoon I was sitting next to said in his deep booming voice, "Wow, he's a really terrible singer."

I was the one mortified now. I elbowed him and shushed him only to have him say even louder, "Well, he IS terrible." As I sat there taking stock of my life, I suddenly had a vision of me marrying the guy I'd dumped. I had this sense of peace that could only be from God, despite my embarrassment. I knew in my heart of hearts that I was supposed to be with my other bad boyfriend. That sense of peace didn't keep me from chewing out the big fool for his lack of social skills as we left the church.

Unfortunately, there was more to be mortified about. My date began shoveling the food into his mouth before the bride and groom arrived at the reception–no plate or silverware. Everyone stood and gawked at him. One of my aunts giggled, "Is it serious?" Before we left, my date met my cousin and commented on her cleavage. I guess she was supposed to be flattered? When the reception was over, I wasted no time telling Mr. No Social Skills that it was over. While he snored away that night, I told my mom that I was going to marry my other boyfriend. She wasn't reassured.

Once back at grad school, I called my three-strikes-and-you're-out boyfriend and asked if we could get together. He seemed as surprised to get my phone call as I was to get his very first call. When we got together, we established some ground rules for the relationship. Five months later we were engaged. Today as I write, I have been married to this man for almost 19 years.

I like to say that ours was not a fairy tale romance, but you know, maybe it is. There was a suitor with much to learn, an ogre, a separation, a reunion, and a love that will surely last forever. Only God could have given this story a happy ending.

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. (John 15:12)


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