The Worst Engagement Story Ever

The Worst Engagement Story Ever

We’ve been told that we have the “worst engagement story” ever.  It’ s so true.

But it’s also the best, because it’s ours.

Karlos was living in Mexico while we were dating. I was in California – transplanted from New England after college on a whim to stretch my wings and be just a tiny bit closer to mi amor.

Because of the distance, anytime we wanted to see one another, a 24 hour bus trip or flight was required. So, for our one year dating anniversary, we planned on meeting in a US-Mexico border city to celebrate and see one another after a six month stint of separation.

On the night of our anniversary, we headed to the fanciest restaurant we could find – L’Applebees. I know – jealousy ensues when I mention both sports bar and fine burgers.

We shimmied into our booth and our unsuspecting waiter grabbed our drink orders. We chit chatted and then the conversation took a pretty serious turn. Karlos started asking some tough (albeit, necessary) questions…

“Do we know each other well enough to get married?”

“Do we have enough money?”

“What if I’m not granted a visa to move to the US?”

You know – all the important questions every couple gets to talk about over the course of months. Here we were processing them within an hour in Applebees. My heart started beating a mile a minute.

What’s he getting at?? I flew all this way…and invested all this time…and fell madly in love with you…just for you to break up with me over some endless fries?!

Then it got worse: “I need to tell you something…but I can’t tell it to you while looking you in the eyes. Can you please close your eyes?”

I close my eyes and clench my fist.

“I don’t want you to be my novia anymore…

…abre tus ojos…”

I open my eyes ready to cry/scream/faint/slap…all the crazy things…

and see him holding a ring box.

“Quiero que seas mi esposa.”

“I want you to be my wife.”

And with that, fear & anger was replaced with joy & celebration. All the big scary questions remained on the table and we continued to process them through our engagement, but the course was set and we journeyed towards the altar together.

 

What’s your engagement story? Did you or your spouse almost get slapped?

 

 

 

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3 Tips to Make Long Distance Dating (Bearably) Amazing

Oblivious to the fact that my sister had learned the phrase “You can marry my sister” in Spanish and practiced it on my amigo-at-the-time, Karlos, I returned back home from my latest mission trip to Mexico.

Chatting online (oh, the days of Messenger 😉 – we found ourselves at a crossroads. Nations apart and yet, the thought had been planted that maybe, just maybe, we could be brave and explore what being novios might look like. I could almost hear the deep breath he took as his calculated typing appeared on my screen:

“Your sister said I have her permission to marry you…what do you think about that?”

Um – I think that would be amazing. But also hard and scary.

“Well, I really love being your amiga and would be open to seeing what else the Lord has in mind.”

“Yo, tambien.”

So there we were. Both willing to explore what this may look like.

Looking back, the decision to date my husband came super facil. But we learned a lot of lessons once we jumped into dating long distance. Though nowhere near “experts” in the field, here are some tips for folks who may be embarking on the same journey:

#1 – Communicate!

I thought I was a good communicator, but then we started dating. From two separate countries. In two different languages. Man, it was (still is!) hard work. But honestly, I look back and I think this was actually a highlight in that chapter of our lives. We learned how to communicate. We had phone dates – at least once a week. And we texted at least once a day.

Mind you, this was before Facebook had really taken off, so we had to be really intentional about sharing what was going on, how we were feeling, etc. But I think this general tip needs to hold true even in this very “social” era. You can’t replace genuine, uninterrupted conversation with random, quick glimpses into your lives. That’s not fully sharing who you are and the life you lead.

#2 – Community!

Before we officially became a couple, during that initial “do we dive into dating?” Messenger conversation, we decided to take the following year to pray, fast and seek counsel from our people. We knew the decision to date was going to be a serious one (why else would you torture yourself by being separated by thousands of miles?!) and we wanted to step into that season prepared and sure of the next step.

Who are your people? Your roommate, parents, pastor, best friend, sibling, small group leader – whoever it is that “gets you” makes the cut.

Ask them to commit to two crucial things: 1.) to be praying for you (individually and as a couple) and 2.) to be asking you the hard questions.

#3 – Convene!

Throughout our 12 months of long-distance dating, it was crucial that I mentally had a date in mind of when we would next see one another. Whether it was 3 weeks or 6 months. It didn’t matter the time in between – just as long as I knew it was happening.

For us, because of immigration, Karlos was not permitted in the US. So that meant any time we wanted to see one another, it was myself crossing the border to meet him in Mexico. Tricky, complicated, expensive, but absolutely necessary.

You need to learn how that person is in real life. How does she spend her money? How does he interact with his mom? How do we decide which on restaurant to eat at? You can’t learn everything over Instagram and a weekly phone call.

Convening at the border.

Convening at the border.

Above all – trust your instinct, amigos. It’s ok to have questions and doubts and to be madly in love, but talk through all the emotions with your novio(a), your people and with God.

 

Does your love story include a time of being separated by distance? What are some tips that helped you get through that stretch?

So…how’d ya meet?

So often, when you meet a new couple this is the first question you ask. Naturally, right? Two different people, two different lives until one magical day their paths cross. Probably at college. Or at a bar/small group/dating website. Or at an orphanage in the Mexican desert.

That’s our story. Karlos had no intention of ever leaving his beloved Mexico and I, a suburban white girl (aka “gringa“) failing Spanish, had no intention of finding a husband on my first mission trip as a 16 year-old. But sometimes the Lord laughs and writes a better story than any of us could imagine.

I like our love story. We were/are a little crazy. A little naive. And a lot in love.

Karlos doesn’t remember me from that first year. “Too many gringas and you were all wearing the same t-shirt.” Touche’.

Dating days in Mexico.

Dating days in Mexico.

But I remember him. I remember how good he was with the kids he worked with at the orphanage. How they called him when they needed help. How he seemed like a strong, constant presence in their turbulent lives. I dunno – I think it may have been amor a primera vista.

But, alas, I barely spoke Spanish and he only knew a bit of English. So I headed home completely in love with the niños I had met and determined to learn the language a bit more that year in order to return to the orphanage the next summer.

And I returned. Again and again. And over those first couple of trips, Karlos and I became friends. I ended up studying abroad in Costa Rica (#lifechanger) and became conversational in Spanish.

And over one spring break, our lives changed forever when my sis looked up how to say “You have my permission to marry my sister.” Sometimes you just need an advocate – even when you don’t realize it.

But, that’s the beginning of our story. Now – how did YOU guys meet? I love a good love story.