It Was NOT Love at First Sight… But We Got There Eventually

It Was NOT Love at First Sight… But We Got There Eventually

This week Betty Beguiles is soliciting stories from her readers to keep herself entertained as she unpacks in her new (rat free!!!!) home and to satisfy her unquenchable thirst for romance:

So, tell me…

How did you and your significant other first meet? Was it love at first sight or did your affection develop over time? And how did you know he (or she) was The One?

My dear husband is out of town for the next four days so this seems to be the perfect time to sit down and write this out. Of course, me being the wordy writer I am, it grew much too long for Betty’s comment box, so I’m posting it here. I’m sure I’ve written it out before; but who can resist telling such a good story one more time?

It was definitely not love at first sight. In fact neither of us really remember the first sight. We know we were both at the same small church young adult gathering at the same time but neither of us recalls the other being there.

The first time I remember seeing him was at Mass. He was the lector, we shook hands at the sign of peace and after Mass my roommate introduced us. He was just one more new face in a new place. (I’d just moved from Texas to Salem, MA to go to grad school in Boston.)

We saw each other occasionally at church, at big parties. Once I tagged along when my roommate went to drop something of for him at his house. They used to get together to play chess and smoke cigars. I actually wondered why they never dated.

Then one day, several years later, we ran into each other at the grocery store and suddenly he decided I was cute and he wanted to ask me out. That was his moment. But I just thought it was nice to meet a friendly face and then thought nothing else of it.

So the next week out of the blue he called me up and asked if I wanted to join him and some other church friends at a local pub. I said sure and he offered to pick me up. That should have been my first clue; but it wasn’t. I just thought it was odd because I was perfectly capable of driving myself.

So we went to the pub and no one else showed up because of course he hadn’t actually invited anyone else. We had a great chat over Guinness and pub food, all about our favorite books. Then we chatted some more in his car in my driveway. Almost an hour before I finally asked him in. And then we talked more.

And then he totally ruined the evening by asking for a kiss. Keep in mind I had no idea I was even on a date. It was awkward and he soon left. I called my sister the next day and asked why guys are so stupid and why did he have to go ruin a perfectly nice evening?

So we didn’t do anything together again for more than a year. By then I decided that it had been long enough that maybe the awkwardness was gone a bit so I agreed to go with my roommate to a young adult Bible study he was leading at his house. It seemed safe enough with a big group there. And I was starting to realize I wanted to get more serious about my faith.

So after several months I found myself consistently the last person to leave Bible study. I’d stand at his front door with my coat on and my purse over my shoulder for hours, talking with my hand on the doorknob but not quite able to leave. And still we weren’t dating. I still insisted to myself that I wasn’t interested. But everyone else in the young adult group was talking about us and I knew it.

Eventually we started going out to movies and dinner and such and I admitted maybe we were dating. And finally one night I allowed him to kiss me.

He was always one step ahead of me. I could see it in his eyes for months that he wanted to say “I love you” and I kind of hoped he wouldn’t because I was not ready to say it. Eventually he did and I didn’t and it was awkward for a while until finally I did.

Then I had to warn him when he came with me to Texas to meet my family that he was not allowed to ask my dad for my hand in marriage. My dad is not the kind of father who would appreciate that gesture. Instead, I was worried that if asked he’d probably say something rude about it not being any of his business. By then I was pretty sure that so long as the meeting the family went well he and I would eventually probably get married. But I wasn’t ready to be engaged. That didn’t happen until almost Easter time.

Knowing he was “The One” was a slow realization and there was never a sudden moment of insight or “just knowing.” I spent a long time wrestling with worries that I was jumping into marriage just because I was lonely, because I was about to turn 30 and didn’t want to be an old maid. Was I making this move out of fear or because it was really the right thing to do? But I did know that he was solid in his faith and that I really needed that in a husband because I was pretty weak. And I knew from watching him with his nieces and nephews that he would make a good father. Those were the two biggest criteria for me. Add to it the fact that we were such good friends. That I could never imagine running out of things to talk about. Remember even before we were dating we could talk and talk at his front door till 2 in the morning.

And then while we were dating his roommate got engaged and while we watched him and his fiance go through their wedding preparations we had many kind of bizarre conversations about what our ideal weddings would be like. In short, our ideals were rather different from his roommate and roommate’s fiance but were strikingly like each others.

We had similar visions of what marriage was about and family and all our big priorities were the same. Most of all I felt a deep peace when I was with him and when I thought about being with him for the rest of my life. I knew I could count on him. And I still know it.

The first time he asked me to marry him he was a bit crazy high from too much caffeine and it was kind of a joke. I got really mad at him for asking such a question so lightly. But not mad enough to break up with him, fortunately.

It took a long time for me to be convinced; but once I did say “yes” it went fast. We were engaged for a mere five months, just long enough to plan a very simple wedding. Then I got pregnant on our honeymoon and had a beautiful baby girl nine months later. Now we’ve been married five years, have three children and one miscarried baby in heaven and another baby due in February.

There, Betty, is that enough detail for you?

Photos: Honeymooning in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island

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  • I so agree with you Melanie, especially with your ideas about seeing blogging missionally. I think you do that already. My christian upbringing was not catholic, and when I married into a catholic family I had very little understanding of the catholic church. Reading your blog has been an important education for me, and a huge inspiration. I have often been challenged by the way you make your faith so much a part of your family and your every day life. Reading your blog has made me want to pray more, talk to my kids about God more, and welcome more of the contemplative and liturgical traditions into my home. This is something that’s really important to me – so thank-you very much. Your life and family have been an inspiration to me from the other side of the world – that is the wonder of the internet!

  • This is a great post. I completely agree. It’s been really tough for me since we moved to Vegas and making friends has not been easy, but since I started blogging and began “hanging out”, if you will, in this circle of blogging mothers my days are much less lonely. I wake up looking forward to reading your posts and the other posts because it’s like having a conversation, and many times they are about real, substantive things. And when they’re not, it’s still nice to not feel quite so isolated. I’ve been able to work things out on my blog that have been haunting me in life for a while, and that I normally would deal with over a few nights of sipping wine and conversation with a friend, but since that’s not an option these past few years it’s incredibly comforting when people (like you!) read my blog, empathize with my struggles, and try to help.

    Sorry to ramble. It’s a great post and I strongly agree. The internet is what you make of it; if you go on it to waste time and escape that’s what you’ll do; if you go on seeking friendship and understanding, you’ll very likely find it.

    Oh and thanks for your comment on my post today! If you don’t mind my asking, who is your sister? I think I knew most of the people at UD around that time.

    I meant to tell you before but haven’t had a chance; I had Dr. Curstinger for Moby Dick too! Honestly I could never pay attention to anything he ever said about the book because his tangents were just so funny. He once told me that I looked like a flower that had not yet blossomed. He was also good friends with my in-laws, and once after Sienna was born we were all at dinner together and he looked at my husband and me and said, “you two sure got fat.” He was the funniest man and the school was really lucky to have him for so many years.

  • Actually, I’ve been happier and more at peace with my introverted self since I’ve been doing all this internet relating than I ever have been in my life! Mainly this is b/c I am finding lots of people like you, Melanie, who openly admit to their introversion, and who absolutely seem to enjoy being at home all day with their kids, as hard and as trying as that can indeed by at times. This is a very affirming message to someone like me. I know I am not alone!  We live in an extremely extroverted culture, and the necessity – for one’s mental health –  of having lots and lots of ‘friends’  and a huge social network is vastly overrated it seems to me. Not that I am recommending hermithood as a lifestyle, but there are plenty of healthy and spiritually alive souls out there who feel no need to be out and about all day long, going to endless meetings, having endless lunches with an endless array of friends, constantly on the go, and constantly stirred up and in some sort of crisis over the state of a particular relationship. I don�t need or want that in my life, and I gather you don�t either, Melanie. There is a very heart-warming experience to be had, sitting in front of the computer, sipping a really good cup of coffee or tea, and reading and pondering the spiritual insights and observations of people just like me who I have never met. People who struggle and suffer, and wonder what it all means. I�ve read so many good prayers, so many good meditations here online � and not all of them have been from the various spiritual �experts� either. All of this has definitely enlarged and defined my faith in ways that a continuous round of meetings and committees has not, and I thank God for it.

  • I was curious about the author of the F&F post. The article doesn’t mention anything about family, only about career. So I went to her website. The Welcome page and “about me” page is all about her career and hobbies. On her blog I read she has 3 kids, 2 of whom go to school and 1 she drops by a sitter for 3 hours every day. In her “about her day” post, I never once saw anything about visiting or phoning a friend, though there was several entries about her blog and emails. It makes me wonder if her article was as much for her as anyone, but of course I wouldn’t know.

    I have friends nearby, but they are in similar or busier situations than I am. Most of them have several children, most homeschool, some spent lots of time running around from activity to activity, some are more like me and spend lots of time at home with several little ones. Finding the time and the quiet to have to develop those spiritual friendships is hard. Neighbors no longer all stay home and chat over fences while hanging the laundry. The world we live in, busy and disconnected, makes it really hard to have friendships like the kind she is talking about, wonderful as those might be. For people like me, if you took away the internet, you would remove most of my contact with family who don’t live in the same state as I do as well as many friends whose phone conversations would have kids screaming in the background. Sure, Facebook can be a distraction, but it is also a channel of updates, prayer requests, sharing articles, helping others laugh or even asking for advice all at the convenience of the users when a phone call or dropping by might very well not have been. No, it may not be ideal, but I think it is, or at least can be, far from a wasteland.

    Actually, when I saw the title and the opening lines yesterday, I didn’t even bother reading the article. Her approach turned me off, and I decided it wasn’t worth my time and would probably only annoy me. I didn’t know there were similar articles circulating but if they are only going to try to hold my life to a standard that it could not uphold well and would not be a priority for me in the season of life I am in right now, I don’t think they will help me very much right now. Maybe I’ll revisit them in a decade or so.

  • Once again, I am refreshed by your common sense! I recently moved 600-odd miles from my friends and family, began blogging, and honestly, it’s been really good for me and my family. I get the writer wiggles out, get encouraged by other Catholic women and maybe (just maybe) encourage others, too. I’ve made friends in my new town, much more quickly than I usually do, but as a SAHM, I can’t just get up and go as easily as I would like. Reading certain blogs and maybe producing a little thought or art on my own has been good for me, as long as I can pull the plug on it when I begin to be *too* internetty. Thanks for the encouragement.

  • Well said, Melanie. I count you as one a dear friend even though I do not know your physical embrace, and I’m so grateful the Web brought us together. God’s providence has no boundaries. We can misuse our time spent with real-life friendships, too.

    I’ll tell you since my move where I don’t have as close knit of a Catholic community, the online world has become increasingly important. The peace and comfort it brought me in the aftermath of my miscarriage is beyond words.

    Thank you for writing from your heart.


  • I noticed that I left out of my comment – the most important thing (as I don’t think you probably have reason to come to MN soon, but a girl can dream, huh?).  In the absence of physical presence, I too am very grateful for my online friends.  I don’t use Twitter and rarely facebook, but I do enjoy blogging and the community I have met there has been so much of a blessing and encouragement during our miscarriage an infertility struggles.  Thank you Melanie for this well thought out and beautiful reflection.  G

  • Great post.  I don’t have anything great to add, but I enjoyed reading both the post and the comments.  Any chance we could go for coffee sometime if you decide to visit Minnesota in the near future?  I think that would be so very nice! 

  • Melanie, I love this post. I am with you – while I certainly believe in the benefits of “spiritual friendship,” I’m resistant to the idea that we should begin our encouragement of it by bashing friendships that “merely” exist online.

    One thing that frustrates me in conversations about online friendship is a failure to differentiate between various types of interaction. I think we can all agree that interaction via Twitter and FB status updates is naturally limited. But I have gotten some of my best spiritual enlightenment and encouragement from emails with dear online friends. In some ways I think online communication is uniquely suited to spiritual friendship, since there is an opportunity to take our time and say things carefully and slowly. It is easier and more natural for me (and, I think, for many people) to offer encouragement, challenge, and love in writing than in person. The Internet allows us to do this more easily than ever before.

    Now that I’m thinking of it, the written word has always been a vital currency of the Christian life – look at all the treasured writings of the saints that are in the form of letters! Aren’t we glad St. Paul wrote to those congregations instead of merely preaching to them when he visited? I love your analogy to the life of St. Therese, too – I think that’s a very good point.

    Melanie, I’m so glad you are a member of this online community! Whether it’s universally appreciated is irrelevant to the fact that it’s a blessing to many of us. As are you. grin

  • Dear Melanie,
    I want to take a moment to encourage you not to give up on in-person friendships. I do believe that there is a depth and dimension to those that cannot be replicated or matched online or on the phone. I know it’s hard to get out with lots of little ones and pregnant bellies. I’ve had lots of little ones and pregnant bellies. I’m also very shy.
    One thing that came up yesterday when we did the podcast with Mary deTurris Proust is that small children are a very good way to get to know other women. Don’t let that opportunity pass you by! Not only will it become more difficult to meet people when your children get older, it will be more difficult for them to meet people, particularly if you homeschool. My 14-year-old daughter’s dearest friend is one she met when she was two. They’ve grown up together. And her mother, Julie, is my friend. She’s the person my husband called when I called him from the radiologist to tell him there was no heartbeat and he was far away and couldn’t get to me. Nothing could replace the sight of her, waiting at my house with a meal and two strong arms to hold me while I wept.
    I know i went through a period when I didn’t work at real life friendships. I shrugged and said I was too busy, had a traveling husband, and many children. I told myself it didn’t matter. I had lots of online friends. But it did matter. And it does matter.
    I bump into Julie on Facebook. She leaves comments for my daughter and I leave them for hers. I send her links or a quick note when I think of something I want to tell her before I forget. It’s a very nice tool. But nothing I can see on this screen will replace sitting in her kitchen, in front of a wood stove, talking about all sorts of things while our kids slam the screen door as they go in and out to play together in the garden.
    So, online friendships can be one way we can connect. I’m sure there can also be genuine spiritual friendships that way. But don’t miss the old-fashioned way. Women have been bonding over babies for thousands of years. They did it without modern conveniences. Surely, we can do it in our own communities.

  • Thank you, everyone. I wish I had time to respond personally to each of these comments. I’ve been trying to find the time all day and just can’t. I’ll try to catch up as I can because many of these comments do demand an individual response.

    I’ve been thinking further about famous spiritual friendships which existed mainly in written form. Heloise and Abelard comes to mind. I also wonder what Francis and Claire or Benedict and Scholastica could have pulled off via the internet.

    I’d agree that trying to have an in-depth friendship exclusively on Facebook and Twitter would be a challenge to say the least. But for me even those are just tools and if they were what I had and I really wanted to be connected, I think I could make it work. They have two limitations: 1. the fact that they are primarily designed to be used to communicate one-to-many as opposed to one-to-one and 2. the character limitation. (Though with Facebook those could be worked around by using Facebook’s message function instead of status updates, which is essentially the same as email.) Still, as adjuncts to an email relationship, I do think that both can have their place in helping to build and maintain a friendship.

  • “And the more I think on it and pray about it, the more certain I am that God is saying to me: What I have given you is sufficient for you for now.”

    Mmmmmmm.  I can relate so deeply to this.

    Oh, don’t I know it.

    Thanks for this, Melanie.  It’s a blessing to hear my heart echoed in the words of others.

    (Oh, and I like what Kate said, too: “God’s providence has no boundaries.”  Yes, the truth.)

  • Dear Elizabeth,

    I know your words were proffered with good will and wonderful intentions and were meant to be kind advice. I suppose that they just came on the wrong day, the fifth day that Dom has been in New Hampshire when I am tired and low already with missing my best friend and main support. I know you would be distressed that on reading them I cried my eyes out for almost two hours while my sweet little girls tried their best to comfort me and console me. You see, I haven�t given up on trying to find those real-life friends and to the best of my knowledge I am doing all I can to be open and available to any friendships that might come my way� but still they do not come. And I know all too well how much better they are than what I have now. Oh I know.

    It�s not that I�ve given up working on real-life friendships that are waiting in the wings to materialize. It�s that there is nothing to work on. Believe me, there are no opportunities that I am blithely passing by, shrugging off. And so when you see me praising online friendships here and elsewhere it�s not because I have given up but because I am trying very, very, very hard to make lemonade out of the lemons life keeps handing me despite all my best efforts to the contrary.

    So now I have spent my time crying, bemoaning my state and throwing myself a nice little pity party and I am all cried out. I have spent my time reliving being that lost little girl longing for friendship for whom tears were daily bread during elementary school and again in middle school and even in high school when despite a wider circle of acquaintances I had no dear heart friends. And I have been visiting with that young woman who was so very lonely in those years of graduate school and then post-graduate teaching. No, I don�t seem to have had a great talent for friendship. All those lonely years with the exception of the years when I was in college and living in Dallas after college when my life was richly blessed with a circle of friends and with a one special deep-soul friend who sadly now lives on the other coast. All those years until I met my husband I had such a hole in my heart. But his friendship has made a difference and I am not that girl anymore and my tears are dry now. And once again I have laid that sorrow at the foot of the cross with another plea: Please, Lord, send me such friends as Elizabeth describes. If not for me, then at least for my daughters� sake. But again I add, Not my will but Thine.

    I do not know why since I�ve moved to Massachusetts it has been so hard for me to find and to keep a circle of friends. Why every time it seems I am getting close I find them snatched away again. I do know that since I�ve been married that old sorrow has mostly gone away. I know my mom has remarked on it and I know that I very, very seldom cry out of a feeling of loneliness. In Dom I find a daily companionship that fills me up and a happiness that mostly drowns that old sorrow. When I cry about my lack of friends it is almost always spurred by spending too much time looking at what other women have and contemplating that which I don�t have.

    I have learned to be satisfied with what I have and not to compare my life to other women�s and as long as I do that I am usually content with my state in life. It could be better� perhaps; but it could also be much worse. Instead of bemoaning what I do not have and wondering why, despite all my efforts, friendships fail to materialize, I count my blessings. I thank God for my husband, my children, my extended family of in-laws, and especially for my sister, best friend and confidant who lives with me and is a wonderful companion, Auntie and playmate to my children, dear heart who shares my sorrows and joys and who came home this afternoon with a big bowl of miso soup and a hug when I needed them most. (And who painted the bathroom ceiling this week!!!! Goodbye mold!)

    With the combination of my family and my circle of online friends I truly do not mind week after week of the same routine, struggling to stay afloat from one day to the next. I am content to wait patiently for God�s time when he shall choose to send the friends I need for the next stage of my journey.

  • THANK YOU, Melanie. I get to feeling so guilty about my online time, especially when articles like the F&F come up. Online friends have really made a difference in my life, in a good way. There has been encouragement, challenge, and just a knowing I’m not “alone.” God’s grace cannot be confined! I like the point about our dear Therese and her missionary work from the convent, especially. There is nothing too small or too “virtual” for Him. I think of my reliance on the communion of saints in heaven (which is also, in a way, a “virtual” community). Thank you for writing down your thoughts. I, too, am so grateful for all my online friends. Heaven will be a wonderful time to met y’all, if not sooner!

  • I am a single Catholic woman in her 50’s and I don’t have any children so you and I might not have much in common.  But I love reading your blog, getting a glimpse into your life with your husband and your beautiful children, and learning how you are living out your vocation as a wife and mother.  It gives me great hope and joy knowing there are strong Catholic families such as yours and Dom’s.  I thank you for sharing so much of your life.  I am definitely blessed and strengthened in my faith because of how you live yours.  Thank you for that.

  • Dear Elizabeth,

    I owe you an apology too. I wrote in the heat of emotion, lashing out at you when all you intended was to be a help and a friend. I should have held my tongue and accepted your words in the spirit in which they were meant.

    Now that Dom is back and my nerves are less raw, I can see that your words merely cracked the dam with which I’d held back all the pain of missing him. My response was really a flood of emotion at having my mainstay gone. Usually what I do with unhelpful but well meant advice is to talk it over with him and brush it off. Instead, I over-reacted and did so in a publicly embarrassing way.

    Friends sometimes misspeak. Even my mom, who knows me best of all, often offers advice that misses the mark. You didn’t deserve that kind of response and I am truly sorry for it.

  • The witness of both of your apologies is truly beautiful.  We all make mistakes, so often unintentional but others feel the sting nonetheless.  Yet we can still be friends and love one another.  Thanks for showing us that!

  • God Bless you Melanie.  What God has given you is indeed sufficient. It is a blessing, one that I as a very lonely young mother in Germany (husband in the Army) would have loved to have had.  I did form a few friendships but with only one car and limited finances I spent a lot of time alone with my small children.

    I have gone round and round on this issue myself and I do think that online friendships are indeed a very good and REAL thing. I have met people online who I have known for years now.  People that yes, REALLY ARE, my friends.  They aren’t my only friends.  I have local friends too and we communicate online as well but as a homeschooler and mother of many children my days are mostly spent at home.  And there is pretty much NO ONE ELSE at home in my neighborhood during the day (except the other homeschool mom down the street! wink.

    The Internet is a tool and how we use it is up to us.  I wasted a lot of time daily on mundane things long before the internet.  It’s human nature and shutting off my modem isn’t going to change that! Checking my Facebook over my coffee mid-morning is like chatting over the fence for a few minutes.  Its just part of how we live now.  Why do we have to feel guilty about that? 

    Yes its true that sometimes those online friends will hurt us but then real life friends can too. It’s part of life but we don’t eschew all friendship because we might get hurt, and we can’t assume that it wasn’t God’s will for us to be in a relationship with someone (on or offline) because it didn’t turn out well. 

    I just don’t know why we have to make it a constant either/or thing.  Internet conversations can be a waste of time—bad for us even but then so can spending face time with a friend who wants to gossip.

    Never mind the irony that those who are so often telling us how bad the internet is for us are some of the most vocal people online.  Logic would dictate that we shouldn’t be hearing from them at all. grin

    In any case I am glad you are here Melanie and it makes me smile to see you comment of one of my Facebook pictures or status updates (lately usually something funny one of my little ones have said or done). 

    God bless you!

  • Melanie,

    I just wanted to say that, I think, unless multiple circumstances are aligned, the season you are in right now (as well as I) makes it harder to have those kinds of friendships.

    When there are several little angels needing you all day, it isn’t easy to find time for yourself much less time to be with someone else to develop a deep personal friendship. I could see where it could be possible if someone who lived very close to you, was in the same season of life you were and had a similar view of life, such a friendship might be possible, but such circumstances today, I think, are not so easy to come by.

    What I’m trying to say is that, while I don’t know how skilled you are at making close friends, I think you have to cut yourself some slack for the reality in which you are currently living. I mean, I don’t know about you, but for me getting a shower is exciting, and if it is in a really clean shower, near a miracle. I’d love such a friendship, as you would, if circumstances made one possible, but I really think this time in our lives is simply not the easiest time in which to make such friendships, regardless of whether you are skilled at making them or not. And it is one of the reasons I find the internet so helpful… this season of life where my life is so much not my own, the internet lets me connect with others when my the circumstances of my life permits me.

  • Melanie,

    I wonder if it’s the time of the year, because your post just hit right home. I’m feeling sad and lonely, although I have friends, they are mostly far away. And there is an achiness and longing for some deep friendships close by.

    I think it’s the season of our mothering, when we are home and hidden, that makes it hard to find those friendships.