A Guest Post by Melissa
Note: I’m reposting Melissa’s series, originally written in February 2011, with her permission. Why now? Put simply, because it was one of the first things that came to my mind when I heard about Jessa Duggar courting. This is something I wish she could read. This is for Jessa.
For all the posts in this series, click here.
Two days later, I was allowed to drive over to “Hunk’s” house for the first time (with a sister along) and when I go there we went for a walk around the block alone (his family was a bit more liberal than mine). I had explained to my Dad that it felt very awkward to not be able to touch at all, and he had approved of us holding hands and promised to give “Hunk” a call to give him permission to do so.
So we held hands as we walked, and I told “Hunk” about a dream I’d had where he had told me “well, this has been nice, but you’re not the one for me.” He replied with a shocked look “How could those words come out of my mouth!?” We walked in silence for a few moments, and then he said quietly “That’s actually one of my biggest fears, is that you will say ‘well, you’re smart and everything, but not what I’m looking for.” We spoke more about our fears of rejection, and then a bit about what we liked about each other. It started to get dark outside, and the moon rose with what looked like a rainbow hovering around it. I told him about my verse and “the time of the singing”, he smiled and said that he thought that the singing was here. We were reluctant to end our walk and head back into the house with the family, but eventually we did.
I was trying as hard as I could to not be afraid of letting down my walls, so I wanted to get the last few serious questions out of the way before I relaxed and let the relationship go wherever it was going to go. Before the week ended, I asked him about his sexual/relationship history (he had held hands with a girl he courted briefly the year before) and shared my own (Zip). I asked about sexual expectations in marriage. Then I asked if he had ever had any addictions, smoking, drugs, alcohol or pornography. Again, I think he was a bit shocked at my forwardness, but he was willing to answer as honestly as possible. By the end of that awkward conversation, I felt like we were on the same page.
Our parents asked about everything all the time, how was it going? What had we talked about? Were we being careful to maintain physical boundaries? And most of all, did we feel like this was going anywhere? It was most important to figure out if we were compatible for each other, there was no point to wasting time in this relationship if we weren’t going to get married.
We got together as much as we could, I was rarely allowed to drive his way, so he mostly came to my house, where we hung out in the corner of the living room and talked in whispers. Now that we were allowed, we were always holding hands. But hugs or kisses or anything else was still strictly off limits. So we would sit on the couch as closely together as possible without our bodies actually touching. I remember wanting so badly to touch his hair. There was so much emphasis on not being allowed to physically touch, it seemed like sparks should go off if our shoulders or arms brushed against each other.
There was a sense of urgency from both families, were we going to get married or not? We had to figure it out quickly before we gave away pieces of our hearts or (even worse) compromised our purity.
On the one hand, I was feeling more and more that I wanted to be with “Hunk”. He was the first person that had ever made feel as though I was beautiful. He was respectful, he listened to me without interrupting me or belittling what I said. He was a sincere Christian who took his faith seriously. He interacted well with children and adults, we never seemed to run out of stuff to talk about, and he had even survived several hour long discussions alone with my father! When I imagined being married and waking up in the morning I could picture him sleeping on the pillow next to me.
On the other hand, we hardly knew each other at all. We had met a year before, and interacted a bit more in the last few months, but was this enough to be sure about a lifetime together? He was going to be a minister, and my family had been “home churching” alone for most of my upbringing, would I be able to handle being a minister’s wife? He had finished his high school and bachelor’s degree early, and was heading into graduate school that fall; I had some sketchy home school high school. His family was reformed in theology, and mine was a weird patriarchal kind of Baptist with some Pentecostal flavour for good measure who refused to subscribe to any actual denomination.
Despite my questions (and the fact that we had been courting for less than 2 weeks) I could not imagine going back to my dreary life before “Hunk”. Every day, I looked forward to seeing him. The days we could not see each other dragged and seemed to last forever, and I wrote pages about him in my journal. I soaked up every little bit of attention, even the somewhat cheesy romantic moments. Like when he called me on the phone to tell me that the moon had a rainbow around it just like the first night we had held hands. Or when we sat on the couch together, and starting with “Once upon a time…” he told me the story of how we met. He told me that he loved my body, curves and all, that there was nothing about me that wasn’t beautiful to him. I could still hardly believe it, if felt too good to be true.
As I was pulling out of the driveway after one of our visits that week, he said “I love you”. I hesitated only a second before I said it back and then accelerated down the road in embarrassment, my heart thumping wildly.
Monday night was Greek class, and I had been looking forward to seeing him again the whole day, but that afternoon my Dad announced that he would not be able to go, therefore none of us were allowed to go. I pleaded for him to reconsider, but it was no use. I explained that I had been counting on Greek class to be able to see “Hunk” and he replied that I had just seen him the day before at church, that as my father he did not approve of my driving anywhere at night (which made no sense because I had driven at night before), and that I had been driving over to see “Hunk” too much anyways; if “Hunk” really wanted to see me that was his prerogative as the male in the relationship.
I was frustrated, (even shedding a few tears) but what could I do? “Rebelling” was out of the question in my mind, as a dutiful stay-at-home daughter, I resolved to “obey” cheerfully. I called “Hunk” to let him know that I was not allowed to attend Greek class. “Hunk” was frustrated on the phone, and to my surprise he called me back a few hours later to tell me that he had cancelled Greek class and was coming over to see me instead. My Dad smiled and said “I told you that if he really wanted to see you he would make it happen.”
Dad had left by the time “Hunk” walked in the door with a handful of wild flowers, and we spent the evening with my mom and siblings, eating dinner and having devotions. Then we sat close together on the couch. After awhile “Hunk” said he had something he wanted to read to me, he grabbed a bible off the table and read me “my verse”.
“Arise, my darling,
my beautiful one, come with me.
See! The winter is past;
the rains are over and gone.
Flowers appear on the earth;
the season of singing has come.”
As he closed the bible and knelt on the floor in front of me, I could hardly breath. All the background noises of children playing in the same room faded away, drowned out by the rushing in my ears.
He pulled out a box with the ring inside and said, “I love you, and I want to spend my life with you. Will you marry me?” It was 15 days after our courtship had begun. Part of me could not believe it was happening, I was afraid of saying yes… it was all so new, so much unknown.
And yet, I was more afraid to say no. “Hunk” was far more than I had ever imagined I would have, I loved being with him, and I could not imagine living day after day without him. Looking into each other’s eyes, we both knew that we were living on borrowed time. All it would take was a father’s disapproval or an argument between our parents for this to be over (or at the very least a whole lot more complicated) before we had a chance go any further.
I took a shaky breath, and shrieked “Yes!” and then since I was not allowed to kiss him, I plunged my fingers through his hair. After he slid the ring on my finger I asked him in a whisper if he had asked my Dad’s consent and he whispered back that he had called my Dad on the phone while on the drive over and asked permission, my Dad had given it.
I felt like I was walking on air, it was hard to stop giggling. I was engaged! To a tall gangly boy who wore his heart on his sleeve. And miraculously, it had somehow happened with my parent’s approval.
To be continued…
For all the posts in this series, click here.