February 15, 2011

Setting the Record Straight: Our Struggles, Our Triumphs

My husband and I aren't perfect. We do the best we can, but we've never claimed to be what we're not. We don't have the perfect marriage, the perfect way of communicating, or the perfect sex life. We're just two people following God together, completely committed to each other, for better or for worse.

Last year, some of you may remember that we discovered a blog which contained a few things about our family that were somewhat less than true. Those things called into question the relationship that my husband and I had before we were married. For most people, it would be insignificant, but being labeled a hypocrite by someone I hoped would eventually become a friend was nothing short of devastating. Worse yet, having those half-truths spread to people who barely knew our little family made it appear that Jonathan and I were nothing better than a pair of liars.

Now, with the full support and knowledge of my husband, I'm here to set the record straight. We fully admit that we do not and have never had the perfect relationship, but there are boundaries which were never crossed. Those boundaries remained untouched not because we have some type of supernatural self-control, but because there was someone greater than ourselves quietly reminding us of the commitment we had made to each other and to Him. Without that little voice, those boundaries would have easily been shattered. So I give to you the honest truth, our struggles and our triumphs.

I met my husband in 2007 and we were instantly attracted to each other. As we grew to know each other and fell in love, the physical side of our relationship became increasingly important. Those of you who have seen my husband shirtless won't need to ask why. Things progressed quickly from late night talks to hand holding, stolen kisses to passionate embraces.

We were two kids desperately in love. We knew quickly that we wanted to get married, which only increased the temptation to push the boundaries of propriety. Although we shared the same convictions about physical boundaries in our relationship, we found it ever more difficult to limit ourselves in the heat of passion.

We wanted to start our relationship together in a way that we felt would honor God and we were able to step back and recognize the way things were headed. In a choice that we would later look back on as one of the best things we did in our early relationship, we set ground rules. We decided not to sleep in the same bed until we were married. Clothes had to stay on. Hands had to stay out of clothes and away from sensitive areas. And with clothes on and hands safely out of the way, how could we possibly have sex?

Over the course of the next two years, those boundaries were repeatedly tested. Jonathan and I lived on opposite ends of the Twin Cities which made commuting between our homes challenging at best. After I fell asleep at the wheel one evening on my way home, we decided together that the occasional sleepover was acceptable. That decision introduced an entirely new factor into the equation: the housemates. At the time, Jonathan lived with a group of other men, many of whom regularly brought guy-friends back to the house after late nights of drinking. Those friends often fell asleep in the living room or at the base of the stairs. Because I didn't feel safe sleeping next to complete strangers in various states of sobriety, I often slept in Jonathan's room.

Those nights were especially tempting. We could've done anything and no one would've ever known. It all came down to our convictions and that little voice that reminded us to do what we knew to be right. While those nights could've been filled with romance and passion, had anyone bothered to check on us, they would've found those nights to be filled with sleep. And not in the same bed.

Things became more challenging after Jonathan and I got engaged. We were committed, what difference would it make now? But that little voice didn't let up. It was always there, reminding us of what we knew deep inside.

There were times that we ignored that voice, times that we both look back on with regret. Boundaries were crossed. Clothes came unbuttoned. Hands strayed. Even in the midst of those times, we knew we were disregarding the best plan for our lives together, but anyone who has experienced this will tell you that it's almost impossible to recognize that in the midst of the passion.

We aren't perfect; we compromised. But even in the midst of our imperfection, that little voice was at work. Not by our strength, but by the strength of another, the most important of our boundaries remained untouched. On our wedding night, we were able to look back and celebrate how we had never spent the night together in bed. We never saw each other fully naked until my husband removed my wedding dress. And we didn't have sex until we had spoken our wedding vows.

Today, we look back on our early relationship and hope to encourage our children to make even better choices than we did. We want our kids to see our mistakes and learn from them- to know that we will love them unconditionally no matter what path they take in their own relationships, but to feel our love and support as we teach them what God wants in their lives.

For better or for worse, this is how our story together began. We don't consider ourselves superior to anyone else because we know where we fell short. And was that lone blogger right to point the finger at us? Maybe. If we had unintentionally given off the perception that we were something we aren't, it gives us the chance to apologize, to make amends, and to be honest with family, with friends, and with readers. But most importantly, baring our relationship to the scrutiny of others gives us the chance to share that even in our moments of weakness, the One in whom we trusted was strong. We weren't perfect, but we did our best to follow His plan, just as we continue to do in our marriage today.

7 comments:

  1. I think that this is beautiful. it's hard to find a couple who isn't having sex & if they are not, you'd never know. I think this is a true testament to your love!!!

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  2. Your story is exactly the same as ours. Being young and in love, it's so hard to keep yourselves off of each other. ;) But how amazing is it to be able to say that even though you had all those mess ups and temptations, you were still able to hold out until your wedding night? It's an awesome feeling, isn't it?! I'm glad we were able to hold out until marriage and will try our best to encourage our children to do the same. Thanks for having the guts to share your honest story! :)

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  3. Your story reminds me so much of my own when my husband and I were dating. The temptations of young, Christian couples can be very difficult. I'm just thankful we have a loving and forgiving Father...LOL. I think you said it best when you said that all we can do is teach our children the best path and pray they learn from our mistakes. Kudos for writing such an honest post.

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  4. Yep. This is pretty our story too. (My wife and I) Well, everything except what I look like with my shirt off.

    Great post. Brings back the dating memories.

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  5. This is my first post I'm reading of yours and I like you! :) Don't be hard on yourselves and it's NO ONE else's business but your own. Whoever wrote those things needs to mind their own business and I really hope you're able to let that go - way easier said than done I'm sure! You did way better than we did! :) We were high school sweethearts and we can't say much of what you can from that post! GREAT JOB for doing as well as you did...AMAZING!!! And, don't beat yourself up one minute! :) You still have a great story to tell your kids about how you waited (they don't need to know the rest about what you "may" have done that wasn't the real deal!)

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  6. Maybe I'll have to save this to read to my kids some day...

    This was honest and inspiring...and sounds SO familiar! In the throes of passion, things get pretty cloudy. I appreciate your candor and honesty and hope people stop putting stupid crap on the internet like it's a private journal.

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  7. This is a beautiful story! I remember those lines and the decisions of whether or not to cross them as well. The temptations seemed too great but there is such reward in not falling for them.

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