|I was fifteen when I discovered one day that I was in love with Nick. We had known each other for years, we both grew up in this church, we went to the same schools, and our parents are great friends. When we were kids, I used to think that he was a bit of a jerk. He was into sports and four-wheeling while I preferred books and music. Then one day, I began to notice that he had a really nice smile and a very genuine laugh. Over time, I noticed other things like how kind he was and how great he was with the little kids. It took me over a year to get him to see me as more than the girl he knows. Boys can be so dense. |
Anyway, we became boyfriend and girlfriend when he asked me to be his date for the Senior Prom. That summer before we went to university was so wonderful. Then I left for university in Ontario and he left for Nova Scotia to study engineering. My gosh, it was hard, we were crazy in love and I think we spent more time on Skype than we did studying.
By the end of the first year, I could not take it anymore and transferred my studies to his university. We saw each other everyday that next year. Both of us lived on campus, me in the girls' dormitory and he in the boys'. I think it is miracle that we managed to pass our exams!
Nick gave me a promise ring the Spring of our sophomore year and we began to make plans. We would rent an apartment together ... to save money and to get to know what it would be like to live together.
When our parents learned about our plans, they were not happy at all and that is to put it mildly. But we were young and headstrong and would not budge. Nick's father threatened to stop supporting him in his studies and my father did what he always did when he was not happy with me, he grunted a lot. Our mothers tried to talk sense into us and when their words fell on deaf years, tension began to build in our relationships, especially between Nick's mom and me.
As the summer passed and the start of the new semester loomed, you could literally cut the tension in the air in both our families. We called our parents old fashioned and unreasonable. We felt that they did not trust us. We told them that we did not want to end up like so many couples who learned things they did not like about each other after marriage and ended up in divorce. We were full of wisdom. Then one morning two weeks before the start of school my mom came to me and said, "Both of you are old enough to make your own decisions, I am tired of fighting, let's go shopping. I need new shoes."
That afternoon, my mom, Nick and I drove to the mall in town. It seemed like it had been such a long time since we did anything happy together. Mom and I were giggling and laughing while poor Nick tagged along dutifully. You have to love a man who can put up with two shoe obsessed females in a mall!
Finally, mom found a pair of beautiful pumps. They were red with delicate straps that wrapped around her ankles. After trying them on and walking around in them for a minute, my mom said to the salesman, a man we knew from church, "I'll take these!" she said in a perfectly calm voice, "Charles, could you wrap them up and I'll take them home, try them for a week and if I like them, I'll come back and pay for them."
Nick and I were shocked but before we could say anything, the salesman said, "I am sorry Joan, we cannot do that. If you like it, you will have to pay for it."
"Why not?" my mom replied, "How will I know if they will match the outfits that I have? What if I do not like them after walking around in them all day? I think it is a very reasonable proposition. Tell you what, I'll put down a deposit for them and if I like them, I will come back and pay the rest. If I do not, then you will refund me my deposit and I will get another pair."
"Mom!" I exclaimed, "you are being ridiculous. You can't do that! You cannot wear a pair of shoes for a week and expect them to take them back."
"Why not? It is the same pair of shoes isn't it?" my mom replied. By this time, poor Nick who was trying hard to hide, could not contain himself any longer. "Mrs Jones, they would not be the same shoes, they would have been worn, even scuffed. No one would buy them anymore!"
By this time, I began to notice that Charles was trying hard to contain his laughter and I knew something was up. When he finally burst out laughing, my mother smiled and said, "I guess I was being unreasonable, but I was trying to make a point. You children think about what just happened while I go pay for my new shoes." With that, she and Charles, who was still laughing, went arm-in-arm to the cashier.
Nick and I stood there and looked at each other for a moment, then Nick started laughing as well. "Sheila, I think we should continue living on campus next semester. We can live together after we are married." I on the other hand was lost for words and that is rare for an English Major!
That night, Nick and I were sitting on the swing on the porch and we began to talk. "Sheila, I love you very much and I want to be with you for the rest of my life, but if I truly love you, I need to have the courage to make a commitment to you. Wanting to live together before we are married might be fun but it also says that I do not have enough confidence in our relationship and need a test drive." Before I could say anything, Nick continued, "I want to do this right, I have to love you enough to guard your reputation and your purity. I know that both of us had already decided that we should not have sex before we are married. So far, we have been able to keep that promise. Sheila, I am crazy about you and I am not sure that I can keep that promise if we lived together. I am just being honest."
Tears began to well up in my eyes, "I know," I said, "it has been awfully hard for me as well, but I thought that it was something you wanted and I was afraid that if I refused, I would loose you. Besides, I love you so much and I wanted you to be happy." We spent the rest of the evening talking, really talking. I began to tell him all my pet peeves, my dreams of what our life together would be like and he began to tell me his dreams as well. Don't get me wrong, we had talked about being married and together before but we had always avoided things that each of us thought were unimportant or worse, might strain our relationship. In many ways that night was the real beginning of the maturing of our love and relationship.
We lived apart for the rest of our studies and even though we saw a great deal of each other, we made a pact never to spend the night together or to put ourselves in positions that might compromise each other. I am not going to tell you that it was easy because it wasn't. On top of it all, my girlfriends and his friends were saying that we were too 'old fashioned'. Some even asked us if Nick and I were 'for real'.
Today, Nick and I would tease my mom for pulling that dirty trick on us but she knows that we are really saying thank you. Oh and Charles (the salesman) was part of Nick's groomsmen!
Sheila told me how wonderful their wedding was and how special that first night together has been and continues to be. Her story, and the story of her mother's object lesson will be featured in the retreat!
In His love,