One of the things we encourage our couples to do is to write about their relationships and share their thoughts with us as part of our Real Marriages series. Karen and Michelle were married (a couple of times.. haha) in 2014, and Karen has written this thoughtful piece and asked me to post it today on the five year anniversary of their first date. – Amanda
The Things That Matter Most
Early on in our online courtship – you know the stage where both people compare interests – there were several things that came up that in my younger years I would have considered to be deal breakers. I decided to be more open minded this time around because I had been in several bad relationships before her that everything seemed “perfect” from the beginning but turned out not to be. I had put more focus on appearances than on substance and I didn’t want to make that mistake again.
In addition to so-called deal breakers, we talked about our interests and found that in general, we don’t have much in common. Early on I said it didn’t matter but I found myself thinking when we moved in together that we would do more things together, I don’t know why I thought that magically I would like science fiction movies and she would like historical dramas. I discovered I had even more ideas to let go of. I don’t wish for her to be any different than she is so why would I want to change her?
Thank goodness I’ve learned more about what really matters: a good sense of humor, compassion, caring, ability to go with the flow, a sense of adventure, and much more. Michelle is incredibly considerate and caring in both small and large ways. She thinks of small details that need taken care of and continuously amazes me with her thoughtfulness.
One of the ways our differences played out in our wedding are that I’m more extroverted. If it were up to Michelle completely, we would have eloped to New York City. However, I just couldn’t imagine our wedding without everyone we know and love and I couldn’t imagine it somewhere other than our church. We struggled with this decision a long time, there really isn’t a way to compromise on this. She finally agreed to a church wedding, a decision made easier because so many people expressed their love for us.
In the ceremony itself, we said the same vows to each other and then I said additional vows I wrote and read myself. I wanted to say something more from my heart, knowing that Michelle would be uncomfortable doing the same. What she did instead was write a letter to me that was waiting with my wedding dress at the church. Reading her words was really sweet and the perfect way to begin our wedding day.
We did eventually elope, but it was quite public. Our wedding was on April 12, 2014. At the time North Carolina still had a constitutional amendment against same sex marriage. We had no idea that in six months the law would be overturned. On October 10, a decision was made at 5:30pm that overturned the discriminatory amendment. We got legally married that night in the Register of Deeds office. It became public because of the media that was present – and because I was announcing it on Facebook!
Since both our wedding and getting legally married, we have learned even more about being together regardless of differences. We’ve learned that headphones are really good inventions. We’re both more than happy to go to movies with other people who are more in line with our particular interests. But we also make time to just be together, we pay attention and listen well. Michelle and I didn’t begin as best friends but I can say now we have become best friends. She is the one that I can be my true self with, she is always “on my side” and we have a wonderful life together. Differences are only surface, what matters is what’s in the heart.