My husband Owen and I are celebrating our 5th Anniversary Today. We’ve come a long way. Most people who knew us when we first married didn’t think we’d last longer than 6 months because we got married very very quickly. And we may not have if wasn’t for God. This is our story.
HOW WE MET
We met on Christian Dating Site called Christian Mingle and had a few conversations through their messaging system, and a couple of phone conversations. Even our intial emails to each other were like a foreshadow to how our relationship would be at first. I had found his profile first. He was gorgeous. His profile was funny. He worked at a The Fish, a Christian Radio Station in Orange County, and his favorite bible verse was something other than John 3:16. I thought he seemed like a catch. I messaged him letting him know I liked his profile, told him a few things about myself and sent it. I didn’t hear back. Then like a month or two later, I get this email from him. He said he recently saw my profile, liked it, and asked me a few questions that I had already told him about in my email I sent him. So I knew he never read my first message. Gorgeous man as he is, I assumed he got so many, he just skipped mine to his other options and then just now was actually discovering me. So I sent him a sassy email back. Something to the effect of—I sent you a message a month ago introducing myself. Why don’t you go back through your old messages and actually read what I wrote you and you will get the answers to your question.
But he liked that. Said he liked “strong women.”
OUR FIRST DATE
We finally went on a date. Met in San Clemente, a half way spot between Irvine and Oceanside. Certainly a physical attraction there, but I found him to be a bit arrogant and he found me to be a bit uptight. Furthermore, it became clear on the date, that he wasn’t actually Christian, but a Jack Mormon who cruised different Christian churches without ever joining one so he could keep a godly feel to his life without being held accountable to his Mormon faith, which he still subscribed to but didn’t live out. He insisted works were important to getting into heaven and that it couldn’t be faith alone. I called him out on it on the first date and shared some pretty strong reasons why he should question his religious beliefs and he told me that I should spend my time evangelizing atheists, not Mormons. Yeah….spicy first date. Our last email after our date was rather snippy to one another. He shared with me what a simple guy he was and how dating me was more complicated than “reading an owner’s manual” to his iphone. I told him he was mean. And that was it.
Needless to say, we didn’t go out for a second date.
This was in October of 2008.
So I moved on. I was looking for my husband and no longer wanted to waste my time with people that didn’t fit the bill. I started briefly dating a man I had dated a few years earlier and actually got my heart broken by him when he decided he wasn’t ready for a relationship. Then I started dating an old friend from college and actually really started caring for him as well. I actually thought that one was going somewhere. And he was falling very much in love with me. But I wouldn’t commit. I just wasn’t ready for a boyfriend yet as I wanted to make absolutely sure I had checked out as many options before setting down. I had recently gotten out of a 6 year relationship that ended up with a child and a man who still didn’t want to marry me. Then I became a Christian and that was it, he was now definitely not going to marry me. So one could see how I was afraid to waste any more time.
THE EMAIL THAT CHANGED EVERYTHING
Then in April of 2009, Owen emails me or calls me, I forget which. I think it was email. Said he was thinking about me and realized that he was a bit mean to me. He apologized for being so cocky and asked if we could meet up for lunch one day just as friends the next time he happened to be in the area.
I remember thinking that I would be open to meeting as friends, but definitely not anything else. Then I got dolled up in a bohomeian style dress and met him at La Siesta in San Clemente. He was very nice. Very complimentary. Barely ate his food as he seemed obviously nervous. Kept leaning toward me and I kept leaning back. I remember at one point he said that I was “breaking his heart.” He was cute. And I was forgiving him more and more. At the end of the lunch, we hugged, and then left in two different directions. A year later, I remember him telling me that he actually drove there in his girlfriend’s car to come meet me. He obviously was not interested in staying with her. They broke up a few weeks later.
So after that charming lunch date, he asked to meet up again. And so I said yes. This time, I kissed him. And I knew I was in trouble. I was already treading in waters I shouldn’t knowing I wanted to marry a Christian man, not a jack Mormon. But from the conversations we had, it seemed he was seeking, and I suppose I thought there was a chance to do some relationship evangelism without getting “serious.” Oh how easily I let physical attraction get the best of me. And so began the rocky, fragile steps to a chaotic relationship that would launch 6 months later into a marriage.
OWEN MOVES TO UTAH
After that second date (or third if you count the first disastrous one 6 months earlier), he lost his job from The Fish and then up and moved to Utah on me. Given I was already knowing it was trouble dating him, I was somewhat relieved but still couldn’t help but answer his texts still, talk on Facebook, Skype often, and talk on the phone from time to time. I told him when he got there to Utah, to try finding a Calvary Chapel—he said that he never really got into the Christian church thing because it didn’t seem like they cared about him. I knew from my experience with Calvary Chapels that I could guarantee good biblical doctrine that wasn’t liberal and that they cared about those who went there. I even went up to visit him shortly after and helped him find one before heading back to California for the remainder of my summer vacation. He came down for a week and camped in Rancho Santa Margarita with friends for a week. I went up there and camped a few nights with them. We met half way in Vegas once as well to see each other.
OWEN BECOMES A JESUS LOVER
Within a month or so going to Calvary in Salt Lake City, Owen was saved. He had come to recognize the power of Jesus and the truth of the bible. He renounced his belief in the Mormon scriptures and surrendered his life to Jesus who he accepted as Lord and Savior. I got a text from him the day after he surrendered. I was in the middle of a workshop on the curriculum I’d be using at the new school I got hired at and I get this text that said something about the skies being bluer. He then shared how it all happened. Amazing story. But that is for another time.
This is when the guy I was dating down here started getting jealous. I was going to have to make a decision because this guy was now saying all or nothing. He didn’t want me talking to Owen and him.
But Owen was starting to say that he was never coming back to California and if I wanted to pursue him seriously I would need to move up there. I had a child whose father I split custody with. If I went to court, I could lose my son because I wanted to move. Plus, I just got hired at a new school in Temecula after being laid off from Oceanside High. I just wasn’t ready for that. Plus, I just didn’t believe he loved me. That’s a lot to do for a guy you are not sure even loves you. So I chose to just date Greg and say good bye to Owen. Owen was hurt. I was hurt too. I really liked him and couldn’t believe that he wouldn’t move back to Califiornia after living here his whole life. I thought he must not have cared enough about me if as a single guy with no ties to work or child, he still wouldn’t come back. He took it that I loved my ex more than I cared for him. We didn’t talk for a month and he wrote this really sad poem about me and posted it on Facebook. Now years later as husband and wife, we will sometimes sit back in the evening and listen to our favorite rock ballads…there is one that is his song for me during that time—It’s a song by Dashboard Confessional called, “Standard Lines.” You can listen to it here. He said that night we ended it over the phone he hit the bottle pretty hard and played that song over and over. I had no idea at the time that he genuinely really cared for me the way that he did. He was so good at seeming so smooth and unmoved when we talked.
Then things ended up falling apart with Greg after all as some issues of his started coming out that I wasn’t willing to deal with (I didn’t love him anyway and the more I realized it the more I realized I loved Owen. But what was I to do? I had to move on.). Then the guy who broke my heart the fall before called to ask me on a date again. I thought this was it. God was finally leading me to some answers and was going to help me get over Owen (who I thought about every day and cried about often). But the day before my date, Owen calls to see how I was. I told him I was going to go on this date and how excited I was. I wanted to hurt him for being so careless with me. But instead of being hurtful back, he told me to be careful, and to guard my heart. Of course that made me just love him more. And think again that he must be over me if he was not jealous.
Well the date never happened. The guy chickened out and realized he still wasn’t ready. At this point I was so sick and tired of all of this guy juggling and broken hearts everywhere. I decided I was going to no longer date and that this would be a great opportunity to get back into my on fire relationship with God that seemed to have been numbed and put on the back burner over that summer with all my rendezvousing with dates.
THE CALL THAT CHANGED EVERYTHING–YET AGAIN
Then Owen called again. Said he was in love with me. Didn’t want me to go on the date with that guy. And would move back to California to pursue a chance to have a relationship with me. I was swooning! God brought me my husband! It was just a matter of time, I knew it.
He came down and stayed for like a week in a hotel down the street. He couldn’t move right away as he had already started the fall semester in college. I don’t know how he got the week off. We turbo dated that entire week. But a problem came up. We were making out. A lot. And both he and I wanted to be pure for God. Do things the right way. We both had struggled our entire adult lives with sexual sin, both had done the whole serious 5-6 year relationship with a live-in significant other that never amounted to a marriage. We were done with that. We wanted to follow Jesus. But we were heading for trouble and it would be only a matter of time before we failed miserably.
By the end of the week, we both knew a decision had to be made. We either could never date again and just stay away from each other. Or we needed to get married and figure out the rest later.
I was scared. I knew it was crazy. But I couldn’t imagine not seeing him again. What did God want me to do? I couldn’t get the verses from Corinthinians out of my head: “Better to marry than to burn with lust.” But I also knew the warning Paul gives a few lines later. For those who do marry, there will be “trouble.” Nonetheless, I wanted to please God. But I couldn’t say goodbye to this man I had fallen in love with over those short 5-6 months. Owen felt the same. So we risked the trouble.
He left back to Utah as my fiancé.
And two weeks later we met half way in Las Vegas and got married at the Shalimar Chapel and Food Court. Yep, you read right.
We gave our families like a 5 day notice. They still came. We felt very loved and supported by most of them. I’m sure they all thought we were crazy. But they weren’t going to say no and not come.
We married on a Thursday night, October 1st, 2009. Had our honey moon I think through the weekend and then that Sunday, he drove back to Utah and I drove back to California. We waited 2 months until the end of the fall semester when Owen could move back to California and be my husband in the flesh. It was the most exciting, romantic 2 months of waiting in my life. But I had much to do to keep busy. I looked for an apartment, found one and went through the whole application process. Moved into it with just my things and got the Christmas tree up and decorated so that when I brought Owen home, it would feel like home. Owen did make it down one weekend around Halloween to visit us. He stayed with me at my dad’s house before I found a place for us. Racoon’s song, “I love You More” became the theme song during this time. Listen to it here.
OWEN MOVES TO CALIFORNIA TO BE WITH HIS WIFE AND STEPSON
Kanan and I flew out there a few days before Christmas to take him home. We packed up a Uhaul and added a toe hitch to the back of his Malibu and drove from snowy South Jordan to Sunny California in a 12 hour trip. I think we got into our first fight on the drive back. The first of many many, many more.
PAUL WAS RIGHT—THE FIRST 6 MONTHS OF MARRIAGE= TROUBLE
The first 6 months were the hardest. Owen didn’t have a job and was trying to get into Palomar college for some more coursework. He didn’t have any friends. His old friends from Orange County completely stopped calling him after he became a Christian. He was living in a county he had never lived in his whole life and in a state he had no desire to live in again, but did for a girl he loved. He was a brand new Christian and still had a lot of his old self to allow God to work on. I was a mother and a held a full time teaching job. I was used to being independent—to shopping at the grocery stores I liked, drinking the brand of coffee I enjoyed, budgeting my money the way I felt it was to be budgeted, and raising my son the way I believed he should be raised. And so then all of a sudden to have a husband who had different opinions about all of this threw me off guard. I didn’t even consider that he would have a different view on such things. I honestly just thought we’d get married and I would continue to live my life the way I thought it should run but with a man I could make love to at night and fold his laundry and cook for in the evening. I was sassy with him when he said anything I disapproved. I didn’t put up with any form of critique in the way I did things. He was having a difficult time transitioning as well and didn’t really know how to talk to a woman—you have to be gentle with your words, especially with me as I’m highly sensitive to words. Words are my love language. And the more he felt disrespected by me, the more unloving he was becoming with his words.
So within a few weeks we were fighting every day.
By April of that Spring we got into another fight, about what I don’t remember now, but I remember sitting on the bed looking at him and him looking at me and all I could do was say, “What are we going to do?”
I didn’t want to divorce.
Well I wanted to, but my spirit didn’t want to. I wanted to work it out. But we both knew we couldn’t keep going this way. I had a particular family member urging me to divorce and I became very upset with them for not supporting me in my desire to fight this out. It caused a lot of problems with my family.
A LESSON ON LOVE AND RESPECT
But Owen and I were on the same page about this. Divorce was not an option. So three things happened—We started getting marital counseling though our church, went on a marriage retreat for a 2-day marriage course called “Love and Respect,” and then I joined that summer a group for “praying wives.”
Within 6 more months, we had slowly but surely pulled ourselves out of that crazy cycle and were beginning to actually function as a married couple. We began to laugh together. To want to be together. And to dream together. Then we discovered we were pregnant and this felt like God’s seal on us. We had our love child, and God would bless us for our commitment to be together when it would have been so easy to just file for an annulment and return to our previous lives.
Now it’s been 5 years. Owen has a growing business in Internet marketing. He’s met more people and developed more relationships than I ever had while living here. He is even hoping to one day get into local politics. I am still teaching, but running my own writing business on the side. Owen and I will get into a spat every couple of months now. It usually takes 48 hours to fully get through it and then we return to our norm. I’ve learned how important it is to show respect to him even when I am upset with him. And he has learned as well the power of words and how loving or unloving he can be with them.
I now sit next to my husband who right now is watching a video on Islam and I smile at the peace and comfort I feel being next to him. He has grown so much and I have too. His differing views and perspective has helped me become so much more motivated and active in pursuing my writing career. I have helped him learn how to talk to his female clients, which has helped his business. We have had another child together and are now pregnant with a third. We’ve built our lives together. There is no longer a he or a me, but we are we. No more separate banking accounts either. My income is his and his income is mine. Can I tell you how much that has made a difference? It is huge. The moment we learned to love each other more than we loved ourselves, was the moment everything changed. And we owe it 100 percent to God.
JESUS SAVES MORE THAN JUST PEOPLE
God saved our marriage 4 ½ years ago. He worked through the marriage counseling at our church and that Love and Respect conference (built on the verse in the bible—Ephesians 5:33). He worked through the prayer I did on my knees (and I know Owen was on his knees often as well) for my husband and myself, for our marriage, and our future. Jesus teaches us to love one another with a self-sacrificing love. That is the key. And as Christians we both needed a reminder of that.
I am so madly in love with my husband today. And am so glad we didn’t give up. We certainly had to learn a lot by marrying so quickly. But the same reason we married so quickly was the same reason we decided to fight for our marriage—because we wanted to please the Lord. God didn’t want us to be in sexual sin. And God didn’t want us to divorce. We loved each other too much to say good bye and not marry in the fall of 2009. And we loved God too much to say good bye and divorce 6 months later in the Spring of 2010 when we absolutely couldn’t stand the sight of each other.
We’ve come a long way. And as I look at my amazing husband who has my heart, I am excited to see where we will be in 5 more years.And as I just told Owen of this blog I an writing about our story, he just said to me, “You know you and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Yes it was crazy a story. But it’s our story. The first chapter in our book. I hope it blesses you. And maybe made you laugh as well.
update: Its been 2 years since I wrote this testimony of our marriage and so much more came our way afterward. Within 6 months of writing this, my husband was diagnosed with stage 3 Thymoma Cancer. We went through surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation after that. Then through recovery from all the damage of the treatment. We grew his business, started some ministries, and grew closer with the Lord and with the each other through the process. The man he is today is not the man I married, and not the man he was 5 years ago, when I wrote this post originally. He is better. I am better. And I thank the Lord for his ability to use ALL THINGS for good in our lives. We know 2015 was a year of major trial for us. And certainly won’t be the last. While we pray for blessings in 2017, we know that no matter what, all is blessing in the end when it comes to God’s purpose for us. Even cancer. Even other trials. We pray for strength and perseverance in all future trials and pray that he continue to use ALL THINGS for good in our future. For some posts on our cancer story check our posts from 2015 and early 2016.