The air was cool and thick the night I met him. It was a Saturday night in early December, and only hours before, I had just agreed to leave a wedding to do dinner with my brother, sister-in-law, and their friend. As I pulled into our local Bob Evans family restaurant, climbed out and closed my driver’s door, I dismissed the feeling of sweaty palms with the thought, “This is just dinner; a free meal with good company.”
As I pulled the entrance door toward me, my eyes darted around the full restaurant. Families, young couples, friends all dining in this warm, packed place and then, I saw him.
My future….a hallway length away from me standing in a blue thermal and worn jeans, with his hands shoved in his pockets. He smiled back at me, and instantly, I knew this handsome man was him. From that moment on, he was mine.
That was December 11th and Jimmy asked me to marry him April 7th, just days shy of four months to us knowing each other even existed on this crazy planet.
That fact about our relationship has been something we’ve both flaunted. Not in a “Look at us and how we’ve lasted” kind of way, but in a “We were, and still are, that crazy about each other that we couldn’t wait another minute to be One” kind of way.
Our love then was crazy and fast….much like it still is today. Then, we spent hours on the phone and every minute together we could, planning for our future. We knew quickly. We just knew. Talking about our future together in month No. 1 wasn’t weird. It was exciting and there was a feeling of completeness between the two of us. Today, he’s the first thing I think about and the thing I’m most thankful for. He’s my everything – my forever and always – and he completes me in a way I never imagined possible.
I still remember the first time he kissed me. It happened in the very early morning hours one Saturday night after I had come home from a trip away. We were laying on my parent’s couch talking, my head was resting on his legs and he just leaned down and said “I can’t wait anymore, Tal. You’re my everything.” When his lips touched mine, I think everything in my body shook and I still get that same feeling when I think about it. Jimmy and I remained pure to one another until we were married, so if you’re reading this and inferring what happened next, you’re wrong. But again, our love was fast, furious, relentless and it wasn’t something that could be stopped. Today, it still can’t be stopped.
We married four years ago today, October 15, 2011. It was a beautiful day, but very windy. That became evident in our outdoor ceremony where a million and one things went wrong – and that’s a story… or many stories for another day – but we were married. We became One. A bond was formed that we wowed would never be broken. That day, my life truly started.
The first year of our marriage, I learned so much about myself and our relationship; the good things, the bad things, the things we needed to work on, the things that mattered and the things that didn’t. But probably in Year No. 1, the biggest lesson I learned about us as a couple is that Jimmy’s love for me wasn’t founded upon accomplishments I had or didn’t have, money I made or didn’t make, qualities I possessed or he wished I possessed. He loved me for me and before, I don’t think I really, really ever had anyone (but God and my parents) love me the way he loves me. His love for me became evident in how he dealt with job changes, money sacrifices, and time together dwindling due to life circumstances. His love for me remained complete and overflowing, and today, it’s no different for the two of us.
In Year No. 2, I was about to crack living over on our rental farm and we made a mutual decision to move to Ravenswood. Our Ravenswood house saved our marriage in so many ways. No, we weren’t even close to calling it quits, but that mutual decision to move and buy a house in the middle opened up a new door in our marriage. It opened up the opportunity to own and build something together…something to call our own. It opened up a new love in our relationship where we first experienced ours and, believe it or not, that’s when my heart started to completely soften towards the farm and our lives as farmers.
Year No. 3 has brought about some exciting changes and additions. It seems we’re always working on a project – we’ve flipped a farm, renovated a rental property, renovated our own kitchen, completely flipped a house – so our time together over the years has allowed me to see our relationship in a different way; partners, not just lovers. We had to learn to work together, what each other’s strengths and weaknesses were and how to counteract those. How we could complete a project on time, on budget, and keep mentally sane at the same time. And I’m sure year No. 4 will be no different as we embark on more long-term projects together.
When talking on the phone to a new friend of mine, he said something about his girlfriend that’s stuck with me. He said “She’s my greatest addiction. She’s something I cannot shake and I will not shake her until she and I part ways.” At first, I was somewhat jealous that Jimmy had never directly said that to me, but what I didn’t see is that at this time in Jimmy and I’s relationship, I am that guy. Jimmy is my greatest addiction and something I’ll never shake.
No, our relationship is far from perfect. Hey, you should be in the car with us on Sundays mornings when we’re trying to get to church. You’ll see imperfect then, but those moments don’t define our relationship. Those moments are so meaningless to us because, for us, the goal every day is to serve one another.
So yes, I could write a book about my husband and all the things he’s taught me with his love and his friendship. I can’t say enough good things about him, and every day, I’m so proud to be called Mrs. Will, his wife…the one he chose to walk through this crazy life with.
As I said before, I knew I couldn’t sum up my feelings about Jimmy and our relationship in this single anniversary day post, so that’s why I’ve chosen to write about our life and marriage with stories and illustrations as how we make it work.
Someone asked me recently “What’s your secret” when I was lighting up while talking about Jimmy, and my response was, “God. He’s the forefront of our marriage and in everything we do and that’s why we work and make it work. Our union is not ours. It’s His.”
I’m more of a storyteller than an advice columnist. So no, I’m not going to have all the secrets or all the answers for life’s marriage and relationship problems, but what I’ve seen firsthand is: When I serve Him and praise Him, He brings great things in my life. When I started to serve Him (God) fully, He brought me Jimmy, and that’s something to be praised every day. My marriage is better when I’m open about who we are. My marriage is more full when I’m reflecting on and bringing to light the things that make me complete in Him (+ Jimmy). My marriage is full of passion when I’m serving Jimmy and I’m putting my wants aside to focus on our wants and needs.
So you may want to follow along to this blog and you may not. The subject matter may be somthing that hurts you like a punch-in-the-gut kind of way, or a longing-hurt-heart kind of way. I don’t know, but what I do know is: I want my life to be about praise and – on this day – I can’t think of anyone I’d rather be shouting to the rooftops about than my husband, James Philip Will.
Stay tuned for stories told and lessons learned from these past four years of marriage….