I have been in a relationship for all of my adult life, but I am the worst at giving dating advice. That’s because I have been in a relationship with the same man for all of my adult life.
Matthew didn’t seem like the one when I was a senior in high school. He was a gangly basketball player who kept showing up in my classes and extracurriculars. He was my homecoming date and then my boyfriend and then my prom date.
It was supposed to end there. Six months of good-natured fun before I left for college, but something in me told me to try long distance. I committed. I read every book, forum, and article I could about doing a long distance relationship . Statistically, our chances were slim. We went for it anyways. That’s what you do when you’re filled with hormones and a little bit of hope.
Saying goodbye for the first time felt like being stuck at the top of a rollercoaster. All of the fear and the butterflies without knowing if it would ever be fun again.
The first year was hard. We were not only in different states but different stages of life as Matthew wrapped up high school and I stumbled through life as a college student. Looking back, I’m not fully sure what kept us together. Some mixture of loyalty, curiousity, and the grace of God.
Things got better from there but never easier. Nashville to Richmond. Six surgeries. Chicago to Johannesburg. Rehab. Chicago to Nashville. Chicago to Spain. Internship. Chicago to Nashville. Engagement. Chicago to Japan. Marriage. Chicago.
I became the woman who married her high school sweetheart. I became that woman because the woman Matthew married is not the eighteen year old he started dating. And he transformed, too.
I think our relationship works because we had the great fortune to grow separately and together simultaneously. Roots intertwined. Blooming. We learned quickly to be shockingly, refreshingly honest. That freedom to be, without pretense, nourished our creative souls.
And here I am, nearly six and a half years later, sitting in the office with my husband, figuring out where my new identity of wife fits into all that I am and will be. I am not qualified to share relationship advice, but there is one sentiment that has never failed me: Just try it.