On Second Thought
Joelle, Jason & Daughter
I attended a small Christian college in Arizona for the first two years after high school. While there, I took a class called Marriage and the Family. In that class, the teacher encouraged us to look seriously at our expectations of a dating partner - what qualities did we consider “non-negotiable”? How did our desires line up with the qualities extolled in passages like Proverbs 31 and Ephesians 5? After that class, I wrote a list of 10 qualities that I considered non-negotiable, and then I added a separate column with three qualities I would consider a bonus. Not long after that, I was in a teacher’s office waiting for him to find some information I needed. As I waited, I perused his bookshelf. Suddenly, the thought occurred to me: “He meets the 10 qualities on my list! And several of the bonus ones, as well!”
I was not elated. In fact, I was...well...grossed out. You see, while this teacher was young (just four years my senior) and single, he was...my teacher! Furthermore, I didn’t find him attractive. I hopped up and left his office as quickly as I could, without the information I needed. I shoved the thought out of my mind just as quickly as it came.
To be fair, I should probably include my husband’s point of view. When he first met me that first year in Arizona, he thought, “she’s pretty immature.” I’m sure he was right! Ours was not a case of love at first sight. Nevertheless, by the time a year had gone by from my startling revelation, we had definitely become friends. I was impressed with how he related to us students - especially the “difficult” ones. I liked his style of leadership, his honesty, and his sense of humor. I knew him to be a deeply committed Christian. Since the school had a small, almost family-like environment, we had many opportunities to observe each other and spend time together in group settings.
Classes ended in May, but graduation wasn’t scheduled until August. In the meantime, Jason and I were asked to work with different summer outreach programs in Michigan. At the end of the summer, we took our outreach teams to a large convention nearby. My dad happened to be at the convention as well. Jason sought him out and asked his permission to date me. My dad gave his permission and shared with Jason a principle he’d read in a relationship book - there should be 1000 hours of communication before any further decisions were made about a prospective marriage relationship.
Later that evening, Jason asked me quite seriously if I would consider getting to know each other better, with the possibility of marriage in mind. I solemnly agreed. Then, after a few awkward moments, I asked, “Um, so, what does that mean?!” We agreed to call it “dating.” We told our parents right away, but since this was my first dating experience (his too!), I decided I needed more time to get used to the idea before we mentioned it to other people. A week later, we both attended my graduation back out west and had a lot of fun shocking our friends - most of whom never saw it coming.
Then, I returned to Michigan, to attend a university there. Jason stayed at his teaching position in Arizona. We spent hours and hours on the phone, and managed several weekend visits. By the time spring break rolled around, we had logged just over 1000 hours of communication (yes, we kept track. I thought it would be funny to keep track of phone calls. Let me just say - thank goodness for free long distance!). Over spring break, just about two years after the disagreeable revelation that he fit all my requirements, Jason asked me to marry him, and I joyfully agreed. We were married six months later, and I joined him out west.
I’ve always loved Anne of Green Gables, and I think L.M. Montgomery’s thoughts sum up our dating relationship perfectly: “Perhaps, after all, romance did not come into one’s life with pomp and blare, like a gay knight riding down; perhaps it crept to one’s side like an old friend through quiet ways; perhaps it revealed itself in seeming prose, until some sudden shaft of illumination flung athwart its pages betrayed the rhythm and the music, perhaps . . . perhaps . . . love unfolded naturally out of a beautiful friendship, as a golden-hearted rose slipping from its green sheath.” And, just in case there is any confusion on the matter, I want it to be known that I find my husband extremely attractive...and I’m pretty sure he doesn’t think I’m immature anymore!