A few weeks ago a friend asked me a thought provoking question. We were talking about dating and relationships among teenagers and she said, “So how did you and Adam KNOW this was it? I mean did you really know the first day that you would get married? What did all that look like?”
Good question right?
Those of you who know our story know that Adam and I met when we were 16 – summer of our sophomore year. We dated the remaining 2 years of high school and then married two months after graduation.
That being more than 20 years ago, I had to blow some dust off the old memory files to properly answer my friend’s question.
How did we know we had something special?
In a way, relationships are like panning for gold. At first glance the gold nuggets look like all the other pebbles around it. It’s not until you shake off some dirt and rinse them off that you discover that little pebble of dirt is really gold!
I hear people say it was love at first sight and I knew from day one we would get married. And maybe they did. But I think some of that is easier to say in hindsight. For me, I didn’t know that first day.
What I did know was: this guy is cute, there’s a twinkle in his eye that says he likes me and I’d like to get to know him more.
The first thing I remember noticing was the physical attraction between Adam and I. Chemistry was happening. Sparks flew when Adam and I got together, and in a way they still do.
My heart still flutters a bit when I hear Adam’s truck pull in the driveway or when he tips his hat to give me a kiss…. I think this is a good thing, especially in marriage.
Physical attraction isn’t just for the “pagans” to enjoy and Christians to stay away from or be afraid of. We were made to enjoy our spouse!!
The second area I remember connecting to Adam with was in a philosophical sense. The first time we talked on the phone we discussed family matters. His parents divorced when he was young and his dad had not been around most of his childhood.
There was passion in his voice when he said he wanted to be different. He wanted to be there for his kids and be the dad that showed up.
My childhood had also been affected by divorce, so I whole heartedly connected with that. Just by the fact we were having the conversation proved to me Adam thought about the future, which was more than most of the other 16 year old guys I knew.
The final way Adam and I connected in the very beginning, and one that probably was the most important for me, was emotionally. I don’t know about you, but when I was a teenager I didn’t really know who I was. Like a chameleon, I could act one way with one group of friends and another way with another group.
From day one I didn’t feel like I needed to be anything other than me around Adam. I didn’t feel the need to prove myself. We met at the pool, me in a bathing suit with no make up on and I never felt like I needed to put a mask on or act a certain way to impress him. Adam made me laugh and gave me the sense he didn’t want me to put a mask on. He saw my true self and liked it!
And that is still true today….because really, most things don’t change. We may grow and mature, but how someone treats us in the beginning of a relationship is probably going to be the same way they treat us 20, 30, 40 years later.
I don’t know if I clearly articulated these answers to my friend that evening. But as I’ve had time to look back, these 3 connections were our starting points. Obviously more was involved from there, and that is for another time.
My encouragement to parents of teens, teens or other single adults of all ages is this: when you find these elements of connection in a relationship with the opposite sex, I encourage you to take it seriously. The details will look differently of course but I think the points of physical attraction, emotional and philosophical connection are great indicators that this thing you’re staring at might be gold!
**NOTE: This is something Adam and I would love to open up discussion about. Writing it down is naturally the first step for me, so I started there. But if you have an idea of how we could communicate this further or in a different setting, please let me know! I’ve asked the Lord to show us how we can share our story and give young adults (and parents!) tangible tips as they go out into the dating world.