I finally get to call Johnny my fiance....AGAIN! Yes, this is the second time that we have been engaged. To me, it feels like the first time though. As we started to share our background with those who asked the awkward question of why, we were pleasantly taken back by its affect on people. With that, we ultimately came to the decision that we are each given a situation and story with the intent for it to be shared.
LETS BACK UP :
Johnny and I met our last year of college at the University of North Texas. He broke the "don't approach at the gym" rule and began a conversation as I was drenched in sweat. It only took a few months of dating to realize that this was it. Even so, we had somewhat of a rocky start.
Although our connection and friendship grew deep, it was all the extra 'stuff' that created a long and difficult process for our relationship. Total mind screw. Being from two different worlds, completely opposite coasts, created a strange communication gap between us. From things like family to sense of humor, the culture and dynamics held a thick contrast. We had to spend a lot of quality time understanding one another, which surely made for a lack of dull moments.
Our relationship began to flourish once we started to grow and understand each other, but that still didn't seem to conquer the stupid compulsive bickering we found ourselves giving in to. Still, the only question that never came up was whether or not the other person was worth the fight. We knew we had been gifted something special, but we were not going the extra mile to get us to a healthy place. But...like...whatever right?! Let's just get engaged and figure it out later! HAH!!!! WORST decision, but ultimately God used it to be the BEST thing for our relationship. He is good and funny like that, I tell ya.
During our first engagement, we fought about literally everything. 1/20th of it relevant, I'm sure. The pressures of engagement definitely heightened any stress that was already on our relationship. We eventually started up our premaritals and began attending young adult groups. As we each began to grow, the cracks began to show. Ha that rhymed. Barz*** God started moving in our lives as individuals, and we quickly found that we needed to give each other more time. More time to breathe, more time to grow, more time to focus on our spiritual journeys, and more time to heal from past situations that kept effecting personal progress.
But, no matter how deep the cracks were, letting go was just not an option. Sticking together through the growing pains lead us to find something in us we liked even better!
Now, by the grace of God, like LITERALLY, we made a complete 180. Before, you probably identified us as one of the couples that always found something to get dramatic about....two passionate people with passionate arguments meeeehhhhh not always a popular choice....but now you won't catch us doing that. You wont catch us even having it on the table. With the help of God, we were able to take our passionate personalities and learned to redirect it to make our relationship sweeter instead of bitter.
We aren't the same people that we once were when we began our story. Our characters have morphed and paths have been made clearer. We let go of those parts of us that were broken and opened our eyes and ears to what needed to be forgiven and healed in one another.
Once we genuinely let go and surrendered it all for God to take over, our hearts towards each other were softened yet also strengthened. There was no more room for stubbornness, there was no more room for taking each other for granted, and there was no more room in our relationship for bullsh**.
Spiritual freedom and practicing acceptance led us to see each other the way God sees us, which is quite a beautiful sight to allow yourself to see. Each day with Him is a clean slate, and that drives us to do the same for each other.
Johnny and I are NOWHERE near perfect at this or consider ourselves experts, but we have learned a lot and we'd like to share advice to those who might be seeking some.
We realized how important it was to practice reconciliation.
We made things right with God, made things right with ourselves, then made things right with each other. In that order. We decided to begin again with a clean slate. We viewed our relationship as something shiny and new, so we vowed to put what happened, or didn't happen, in the past and leave it in the old relationship.
(2.) Relevance + Moving Forward.
Once you both have decided to genuinely start fresh, you both HAVE to make a promise to each other to ACTUALLY move forward. From that point on, any argument or situation should be present and relevant. If the past is still being brought up for a current issue, or if things have not changed and progressed, then you need to continue to address the reconciliation process until you get it right.
(3.) Your Business is your own.
A lot of people were confused by our second engagement because we never took it down off Facebook. Even though getting un-engaged was a bit embarrassing, embarrassment was not the motive for keeping the relationship status posted. We just didn't feel it was anyones business. Plain and simple. News flash, I know it is contrary to popular belief these days, but there is no rule that says you have to share every aspect of your life with everyone and their brother.
We worked things out in peace. So, If you are a couple thinking of making the "un-engaged till further notice" decision, just let your business be your business, and for crying out loud who cares about friggin Facebook YOUR ACTUAL RELATIONSHIP IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN THE ONE PORTRAYED ON SOCIAL MEDIA.
(4.) God heals all things... if you let Him.
Sounds kinda like a "no duh" thing to say, but simply letting Him is most of the time the hardest part. You have to let your guard down, give over complete control of the situation and trusting Him to fix it. That doesn't come easy to most people. Thankfully, He gave me and Johnny a partner to grow with, to fight the enemy with, and learn the art of unconditional love with. He planned for us to take all the BS life had to offer, and turn it all into blessings beyond our expectations. But, that only started the moment we let Him.
(5.) Think of your relationship like a business.
When Johnny and I started our entrepreneurial journeys together, we built a tear of businesses. Through the journey, we learned a lot about working together and what makes a successful duo in business. Eventually the manners trickled over in to how we ran our relationship:
A. Hold up your end. You don't want to let your partner down.
B. INVEST! To make money you have to spend or invest money. Same thing applies in a relationship. Invest your time and effort, genuinely and selflessly, into one another and watch your returns start naturally and effortlessly coming in.
C. Appreciate and honor each other's strengths and differences! We use our individual strengths to better our business. Divide up roles, set individual goals, and delegate the task at hand. Why should that be any different for a relationship? Instead of getting frustrated and angry at the other person's differences, celebrate them, set goals as to how to use the differences as strengths, and ultimately come to the understanding that the other person is different from you to be your puzzle piece in life! That is a blessing not a curse.
(6). You HAVE to understand each other's love languages.
It is so super important that you know this about your person, or anyone you care for. It can be what saves a relationship and/ or takes it to that next level!
All we had to do was answer a series of questions on an online quiz and it was up hill from there.
The 5 Love languages are: (1) receiving gifts (2) quality time (3) words of affirmation (4) acts of service (devotion) (5) physical touch.
Johnny's #1 scoring love language is physical touch and mine is words of affirmation.
Once we knew the language each of us used and needed, it drew us a clear picture of how to communicate with each other. Not only did it help us understand how we RECEIVE love but also how we EXPRESS love. That can be completely different!
I am into Words of Affirmation when it comes to receiving love, but I tend to show love through physical touch and quality time. It is a learning journey becoming self aware, but don't give up because it is totally worth it.
We found that when we were slacking on showing love in each other's language that is when things would go south. Once we were able to identify that, it helped us get through issues a whole quicker and much more efficient.
Take the quiz to find out your love language! ( I also recommend buying the book!)
(7). surround yourself with a support system
It was such a huge blessing to be able to lean on friends who had our backs. The whole situation really showed us who our true friends were. I don't think we realized how beneficial the support was until we had it. When you are going through crap, that seems to be all you see when there is no one else there to bring you back to reality in a positive way. Surround yourself with people who don't judge the situation and help you stay levelheaded and rational about it. Those people are the once that become your family we can attest to that!
* * * * *
Summary : One size does not fit all
We wanted to tell our tale with the hope that by being transparent we might help remind couples to write their story their own way. To have the courage to do things differently, if necessary, even if it's not the norm. Johnny and I have written ours a bit differently than the expected, and we felt led to share it. Not because we felt like we needed to explain ourselves to the curious world, but to hopefully inspire others who might go through similar situations that we have.
Just because you know that person is the one, that doesn't mean you're ready to get engaged. Just because you're engaged, that doesn't mean you stay engaged if things start going south. And just because you get unengaged, that doesn't mean you have to break up. There are no rules... one size does not fit all. Don't worry what people might think. Do what is best for you guys and that's just that!!