Jay and I met in January of 2003. At the time, I was 19, still living with my parents and trying to decide what I wanted for my future. Jay was 36 with a 17-year old son and was recently divorced. My two closet friends, Mary and Chris, and I went to downtown Winchester to Wit's End, a local outreach organized by our church. Chris was one of the adult leaders helping with the outreach. He had been involved in the young adult ministry for several years at that point. Mary was on of the few friends I had my age, and we were planning on attending college together. The three of us were sitting on couches in the back of the dark building near a piano. Jay came in and Chris introduced us all. He and Chris started talking about Jay's injured back while Mary and I headed towards the piano. We were excitedly discussing which Christian college we were currently hoping to attend. After Jay and Chris chatted for a few minutes, Jay walked away.
We met again when Wit's End moved from the downtown area to our church about a month later. A bunch of us (Mary, Keith, Zach, Ian, Ben, and a few others) would regularly meet at Wit's End to have theological discussions. My favorite topic was God's sovereignty and pre-destination. Zach and I were the main ones arguing. Most everyone else just sat back without too much input. Jay tells me that he sat in our group a few times just to listen. I vaguely recall talking with him some throughout the next few months.
The time I really remember him becoming a staple in our group was when I brought Julie to Connexion, the church's youth group, with me. Julie and I worked together at the local coffee shop, the Daily Grind. I was working two jobs at the time, the coffee shop as well as the Christian bookstore, Living Branches. I was trying to save up some money for college. That evening the church was just having a monthly game night. Some of us were sitting around a table playing with a deck of cards. Jay approached the table and showed us an impressive magic trick or two. When he finished, and we were sufficiently in awe, he started showing off some sunglasses he had found on a nearby counter. They had round metal frames with very masculine rosy-pink lenses.
While Jay was modeling his new frames, Mary and I noticed that he was missing the name badge recommended of all who attend Connexion. We informed him that he needed a badge, and jokingly asked him which name he desired. His response? Katherine. That's what started the great Katherine Debate. I asked him how he would like the name spelled, and he told me with a K. Mary remarked that she liked it best with a C. Then I interjected, explaining that I preferred it with a K because it appeared more dignified. Jay started alternating wearing the glasses with his coat open (revealing a name tag) and having the glasses down with the coast closed, saying Katherine with a K', Catherine with a C', as he alternated. Julie, Mary and I thought he was hilarious.
Jay gradually started spending more time with us. Shortly after he became a staple in our group, I began dating Ben. The five of us (Mary, Keith, Jay, Ben and myself) would go to a Christian coffee shop, called the Exchange, and various other places to have Bible studies. Oftentimes we wouldn't have a topic; we would just open up the Bible and start reading. When Ben began mocking us for our interest, he was quickly barred from our studies.
Not long after we started studying the Bible together, Jay invited me to his apartment to read some of his writings. He told me that he was working on a murder novel, as well as a nonfictional book based on God's grace. Since I had never been to Jay's apartment, and still didn't know him terribly well, I brought Ben with me. I was later informed that Jay was surprised and disappointed that I had requested Ben to accompany me. However, Jay soon started enjoying himself. He seemed to take pleasure from tormenting Ben. At one point, Jay was sitting on the bed with Ben and I was sitting in front of them on the floor. Jay told Ben that the way to really impress a girl was to braid her hair. Then, he demonstrated his French braiding skills on me. Ben hated it the entire time, but was too intimidated to speak up.
Shortly after that day, I made the decision not to continue dating Ben for a variety of reasons. The morning after Ben and I stopped dating, I created a list of traits that I wanted in a husband. I knew that the purpose of dating was marriage, and I didn't want to waste any more of my time on someone that I wouldn't be willing to marry. I decided that, unless the guy met each criterion, I would refuse to date him.
Ben and I still saw each other from time to time as friends, but I was mostly around Jay, Mary, Keith, Zach and Ian. Eventually, our group started to diminish even more. Zach and Ian's time was being taking up by one of their other mutual friends, Frank. Mary and Keith had begun dating a few months earlier and would often opt to do things alone together, instead of with the dwindling group. Jay and I continued to spend time together, using the majority of it for Biblical discussions and debates.
After the two of us had been spending time alone regularly for a couple of weeks, people started to express their disapproval. Keith and Jim Pool, another youth group leader and friend of ours, approached Jay. They told him that we should not be spending time together because it may lead to something more. They were worried that he was looking to me for what he felt he was lacking in his life. Mary told me the same thing. She also said that, since Jay had gotten divorced only about six months earlier, he was just lonely and wanted female companionship. She told me that us being together, even just platonically, was not healthy for either of us.
Jay and I met together on July 3rd at Books-A-Million, just as we did every Wednesday evening. We told each other what people had been saying. It seemed that this was a combined effort. Jay and I were hearing the same things from different people. We were sure they had gotten together to plan exactly how to approach each of us. We immediately laughed with each other about how silly those people were (we were just friends, nothing more). Then we started wondering, What exactly would be wrong with us dating? It hadn't really entered our minds to consider dating until we heard everyone telling us why we shouldn't. Had it not been for the people trying to discourage us from something we never though about, we probably wouldn't have gotten together as soon as we did. We decided to look to the Bible and see if we could find any reasons not to date; after all, these were good Christians. They must have some moral or biblical reason as to why they disapproved of us dating. The only thing Jay and I could think of was the age difference, but that wouldn't be wrong, it would just make things more difficult. I remember sitting outside Books-A-Million telling Jay that, no matter what we found in the Bible, I would never date him. I knew too much about his past. He responded by informing me that I shouldn't date him because he would surely be my ruination. Trying to lighten things up, I told Jay that I didn't believe ruination was a word, so we walked over to the dictionaries and looked it up. As always, he was right. Our minds were glued to the topic of us dating, so we didn't really have much of a Bible study that evening. When we left the bookstore that night, we had decided to continue thinking and praying about dating each other.
The next day, on the Fourth of July, Mary and I drove up to my grandmother's house in Hagerstown, Maryland. The entire time, Mary and I were talking about Jay. I told her about our conversation the night before and she responded by lecturing me on what a bad idea it would be to get involved with him. I don't know that I even really considered it a possibility at that point I just thought it amusing how distressed everyone was over this. Even when Jay and I were discussing it the night before, I didn't think that it would ever become a reality. I remember pondering the idea throughout the whole of the visit.
When Mary and I finally left Hagerstown, we drove to the Downtown Mall to meet Jay. He was sitting near the Daily Grind playing chess. The three of us decided to rent a movie and watch it at my house (my family was out of town for the holiday). Jay went back to his apartment to shower while Mary and I went to the video store at the Delco Plaza. We rented an Adam Sandler movie (Punch Drunk Love), and went back to pick up Jay. I drove us to my house, but we never had a chance to enjoy the movie. Jay gave his friend and mentor, Tim McManigle, a call and discussed, in length, the idea of the two of us dating. Tim counseled Jay, saying that he needed to do what he thought God was telling him to do. Shortly after their conversation ended, I drove Mary home, and Jay and I went back to his apartment. I was there until early in the morning. The entire time we were discussing the possibility of us dating. Jay said he had decided that he would like to, but the decision was up to me. I was a little shocked. Even though I should have, I never expected him to tell me that he actually wanted to date me. I told him that I would need time to think about it. At the time, he seemed fine with my response. I learned later that it made him a little angry at first. He felt that I should have been able to answer him on the spot. In the end, he respected the fact that I wanted time to seriously think and pray about such an important decision.
When I finally arrived home early in the morning on July 5th, I looked over the list I had made several months earlier and check off each line that applied to Jay. Focused on God, servant leader, kind, knowledgeable of the Bible, and the list continued. To my absolute amazement, Jay met each requirement. The more I thought and prayed about it, the more I realized that this was a man I could follow and respect for the rest of my life.
I went to work the next day eagerly anticipating seeing Jay that night. We had decided to meet at the Exchange as soon as I finished work at Living Branches. When I arrived at the coffee house that evening, I saw Jay sitting on a couch near a mutual acquaintance from Wit's End, Steven Benner. Steven asked me how my Fourth of July was, and I told him that it was very interesting. I said that I was asked an important question that I had been pondering throughout a majority of the day. He asked what the question was. As I was refusing to tell him, I was looking directly at Jay.
Jay and I left the Exchange rather quickly. We were both eagerly anticipating another discussion. We started walking back to his apartment at the Winchester Towers. I knew that I had made the decision to start dating him, but for some reason I was stretching things out, making Jay think that I wasn't quite sure. We weighed out the pros and cons. We discussed the concept of dating and agreed that dating was for marriage. We both knew that if we started the dating process, it could very possibly end in matrimony.
A short time before I had to leave (yes, I was still under curfew, even though I was 19), I told Jay that I would like to date him. As he walked me out to the car, he said that he wasn't sure whether or not he should kiss me. I strongly advised him against it. I felt that kissing was a very intimate thing, and I was not yet ready to do that with Jay, even if we were dating. Before I drove off, we agreed that it would be in our best interest to not tell anyone else that we were involved. We knew how they reacted at just the thought of us spending time together. We were pretty sure that they would get upset if they knew we had begun dating against their advice. We didn't feel the need to hide our involvement because we thought it wrong; we were just not ready to deal with the things people would say, and the way we knew they would act. As of Friday, July 5th, 2003, Jay and I had begun to date.
We had been secretly dating about a week when we realized that we wanted to get married. We weren't intending on doing this immediately. We just decided to plan for it sometime in the future. At that time, I was expecting to go to college. Mary had decided to attend college with Keith in Arkansas. I wasn't sure which college I would be involved with (my parents were continuously changing their minds), but I was anticipating attending. Jay was planning to stay in Winchester and work while I pursued my education. We would write to each other and call, but if we found someone else, it would be okay to let the other person know. I was intending to come home to visit on holidays, and Jay and I would see where things were headed. We wanted to remain open to God's will. If He did not want us together, we were confident that He would make it clear.
When we made the plan to marry we decided to tell a few people that we were dating. We didn't advertise, but just let a few close friends and family know. Of course, we did not get the best reaction, but it was exactly what we had anticipated. My parents were livid. They hated the fact that I was dating a divorced man 17 years older than I was with a son almost my age. Jay tried to soften the blow by arranging to meet with my father, but he was refused. Jay wanted to let my father know that he wasn't the horrible person everyone thought him to be, but he wasn't even given the chance. When I told Mary, she was disgusted at the thought of me kissing Jay, but didn't have too much more to say about it. She knew that we were following God's will as we understood it. When we told Chris, he was convinced that I had a problem. He thought that I was just bouncing form relationship to relationship. He said that I lost part of Mary when she was dating Keith, so I started dating Ben. Then, shortly after I broke up with Ben, I began dating Jay. All Chris and most everyone else could see was how wrong they thought our involvement was. Very few people actually took the time to think about the two of us together and see the benefits.
People started saying nasty, hurtful things about me. They said that I was too dependent on others that I was at a low point in my life and just trying to feel good about myself. They said I was lonely. They even questioned my salvation. I remember crying to Jay, so upset that these people I thought were my friends could misjudge me as they were. Jay tried consoling me, explaining that they just didn't understand that we loved each other and felt God calling us to be together.
Once my parents were informed that Jay and I were dating, they decided to send me to the school they had originally told me was too expensive. I had wanted to attend Grace College and Seminary in Indiana, but was told that it was an impossibility. I was excited to be going to Grace, but sad at the thought of leaving Jay.
My parents continued to hammer in how wrong they thought I was to date Jay. They tried to prevent me from seeing him, but had a hard time justifying keeping me from our Bible studies. I guess they thought that things had cooled off between us because they soon decided that they really couldn't afford Grace College and they wanted me to attend a local school in Virginia. They said if my desire was to be a part of a Christian college, I was more than welcome to apply to Liberty University. I considered it, but really hated the thought of having to spend four years at Jerry Falwell's legalistic school. Jay and I talked about how easy it would be for us to see each other if I was attending a closer school, but I would rather not have gone to college at that point then to go to Liberty. I told my mother that I just wanted to take a year off to work, and then I would be able to better afford the college of my choice. She said that was an acceptable alternative.
Jay and I continued to date. At this point we had been officially dating for three weeks. On Thursday, July 24th, 2003, Jay and I were to meet on the Downtown Mall around noon. He called me that morning and asked me to meet him earlier. He said he had something to talk about with me, but wouldn't tell me what. I got ready as quickly as I could, and drove downtown, worrying the entire time. I was sure that Jay was planning to break up with me. I thought he had come to the conclusion that I wasn't worth the problems that people were giving him.
I parked on Cameron Street and walked down to the Daily Grind. I was so engrossed in my thoughts that I overlooked Jay sitting on a nearby curb and he had to yell for me as I passed him. I asked what he wanted to talk about, and he suggested that we walk. We stopped in front of the Civil War Museum and sat at one of the tables. Only then did Jay tell me what was going on. He said, How would you like to get married? I asked him when, and he told me, Today, right now. Of course, I was absolutely amazed. I had no idea that he would be suggesting this. I rolled the idea around in my mind. I didn't have to think for too long since Jay and I had been discussing marriage for a couple of weeks. My only hesitation was the thought of sex. Since I was still a virgin, I was petrified. I asked if we would have to do it immediately. Jay, of course, lied, telling me that, no, we could wait until I was ready. I told him, Yes, I wanted to marry him that day. We both knew that no one would accept us as a couple. We thought that if we got married, not one person would be able to say anything about us being together. He informed me that he had been doing some research, and we could get a license at the Court House and go to a little chapel to marry.
Neither of us had any cash with us, so we walked to the ATM to make a withdrawal for the purchase of the license. As we walked to the Court House on Cameron Street, Jay and I talked more in depth about things. We both agreed that, if we married, divorce was not an option. He said that if we were to marry, it would be for life. As we arrived at the Court House, I realized that I wasn't nervous, just eager and excited. It all seemed so surreal. Looking back now, it seems like a dream.
We went through the metal detectors and into the office. Jay was given a form and handed it to me for completion. The entire time, my hand was shaking. I could barely write my name! We were both so worried that someone we knew would, for some reason or another, show up at the Court House and try to stop us. We were also afraid the clerk would ask Jay for some form of identification. His only ID had expired a few months earlier, and we were aware that we wouldn't be able to get married if it was requested. We knew that, if this really was God's will, nothing could stop it. God could, however, have stopped us at any time, in any way. We may not have been able to withdraw money. Jay may have needed his ID. Someone may have seen us at the Court House. We may not be able to get into the chapel. When we had completed the required paperwork and received our temporary license without a hitch, we breathed a sigh of relief and walked back to Jay's apartment to discuss our next move.
Jay and I talked, at length, about what a big step this was. He let me know that if it was my desire, we could rip up the license and never think of it again. I told him he was foolish, and that I truly did want to marry him. He asked me why, and I told him the only reason I could think of: That I loved him. We finally decided to continue with our plan and marry that day. We looked in the Yellow Pages for nearby wedding chapels. We settled on the Valley Wedding Chapel located on the corner of Kent Street and Boscawen. When we arrived, we discovered that the chapel was a person's house. At first we were afraid that we had the wrong building. We rang the doorbell and a man dressed as a cowboy answered the door. He had a large belt buckle, a cowboy hat and cowboy boots. Jay told him that we wanted to marry, and the man told us his fee. We didn't have enough to cover it. Maybe this wasn't God's will after all. Jay told him that we would be back, and we returned to the ATM. We held our breath as I requested the withdrawal. I was so worried that we wouldn't be able to get the money. I was sure that, this time, God wouldn't let us continue. I could almost hear the Hallelujah chorus as the machine spit the money at us. We grinned at each other and hastened back to the Valley Wedding Chapel.
Once inside, I saw that it resembled one of those chapels found in Las Vegas. There were fake plants everywhere and white folding plastic chairs. Up at the front of the aisle was a large, gaudy white archway decorated with silk flowers. Jay and I nervously walked around the small room while we waited for our Cowboy Minister to come and marry us. Up at the alter, we asked to be married as Jay and Meg, instead of our legal names, John and Meagan. I thought there would be problems again when it come to the point where we were to exchange rings. Being so sudden, we did not have rings to give each other. The Cowboy told us that rings were required to marry. I came to find out that he was just joking with us (a jest that was not well-received on my part).
After we were married, the Cowboy went upstairs to write our Marriage Certificate. Jay and I were pretty quiet, thinking through what had just happened. We had already decided not to tell anyone we had gotten married, so we couldn't share our excitement. The Cowboy finally came down, handed us our certificate and wished us luck. As we walked back to Jay's apartment, we were in a state of shock. We were married. WE WERE MARRIED!! It just didn't seem real. We discussed what it would mean for us not to tell anyone. It was a pretty big secret to keep to ourselves. We couldn't wear rings, I couldn't change my name, and, worst of all, we wouldn't be able to live together. Jay was about to accept a position that would have him residing at the Winchester Rescue Mission, and I was still to be living with my parents, under their rules and curfews.
When I arrived home that day to get ready for work, it still didn't seem real to me. I just couldn't believe that I was a married woman at the age of 19. I continuously replayed the day in my head as I showered and changed. At work, I couldn't concentrate on anything. I was grateful that Thursdays were usually slow evenings. As soon as I clocked out, I sped to Jay's apartment. We enjoyed our time together, but, of course, it was cut short when I had to leave. My parents were very strict about the curfew, and I didn't want them to try and ban me from going anywhere. I said a sad goodbye and went home, alone. As the days passed that first week we were married, we spent as much time together as possible. We drove to Front Royal and sat and talked at the Shenandoah River. We visited Harper's Ferry. We even spent an evening walking around Blandy Farms, a nearby arboretum.
The Tuesday after we had gotten married, we decided to inform Tim and Jim of what we had done. Pastor Stone and quoted to Jay several times that, there's wisdom in the counsel of many. We went to the church that morning and were told that both Tim and Jim were in a meeting, so we drove to the Creekside Daily Grind to wait. I was incredibly nervous the entire time we were there. I remember trying to talk Jay out of telling them. Of course, he wouldn't budge. We returned to the church about an hour later.
The first person we spoke with was Jim. I thought he would be the easiest to tell. I was wrong. Jim went crazy. He was absolutely shocked that we had married the way we did. Of course, his first question was, Has the marriage been consummated? Silly question, seeing as how we had already been married for six days. When Jim asked why we had done this, Jay told him it was because no one would ever accept us. No one would ever approve of us being involved, so we just got married. We knew that it was God's plan for us. We felt that the only way to stop people from complaining was to get married. Jim exploded, That's not true!! He was convinced that, had we dated long enough, people would eventually accept us. Well, three years of being married hasn't changed the fact that most people still don't accept us.
When the time came to tell Tim, I was petrified. I always thought Jim to be a laid-back guy. If he had reacted the way he did, I couldn't even imagine what Tim, a leader in the church, would do. Jay, Tim and I walked around the church parking lot while Jay explained the situation to him. I walked beside Jay, eyes on the ground, silent. I held my breath while I waited for Tim's reaction. Tim was not at all surprised. He had said to Jim just that morning, It wouldn't surprise me if John went off and married that girl. Well, he was right! Tim prayed with us and gave us copies of his marriage tapes. I was bowled over by his response. I couldn't have hoped for a better one.
The next day, Jay and I decided to let his mother, who lived in Culpeper, know we had married. He called her on my cell phone and told her that we were husband and wife. I had only met her twice before, and didn't know what kind of reply to expect. Her response, Well, it's your life, amazed me. How could she not be angry about this? She was one of the few people who understood that it was done, and could not be changed. I wish I could count on my parents reacting similarly.
On Thursday, July 31st, 2003, all hell broke loose. The day before, my mother decided that I would be attending college in Indiana after all. My parents wanted to get me as far away from Jay as possible, not knowing, of course, that we were married. I talked to Jay about what our next step should be. We still didn't want them to know that we had gotten married. We were both worried about the reaction. Our plan was for me to go to Indiana and Jay would follow a few weeks after I left to work and locate an apartment. Once he found a suitable apartment, I would move out of student housing and in with him while still attending school. That Thursday, my mother took me shopping for college things. She purchased bedding, clothing, supplies, everything I would need to get through the first few months. The entire time we were shopping, I was making jokes and dropping hints about marrying Jay. I thought that she wouldn't make the connection. I was wrong.
After making my little comments all day, I drove downtown to pick up Jay. Jim had wanted to set up counseling sessions with us, so we headed to his home in Stephens City. On the way, I told Jay about the day with my mother. He warned me to be careful, saying that she wasn't as slow as I thought. I just laughed if off, not worried in the slightest. When we arrived at Jim Pool's house, Jay immediately said to Jim, Guess what Meagan was doing to her mother today! He proceeded to tell him all about my jokes and comments. Then, Jim dropped to bomb. Well, guess who I just got off the phone with. Meagan's mother! Our jaws fell open. He told us that she had called, upset, demanding to know whether or not we were married. Jim continuously told her that she needed to talk to me, but she wore him down. She said, So, can I assume from your lack of response that they are married? What could he say but, Yes? Then, Jim went on to say that he had told the pastor, Mark Carey, of our marriage, as well.
We looked at each other, dumbfounded. What could we do? I grabbed the house phone and called my mother. Jay took Jim's cell phone and dialed Mark. I was walking around one side of Jim's backyard, trying to console my sobbing mother. Jay was walking around the other side of the yard on the receiving end of a screaming fit. My mother was convinced that Jay had tricked me into marrying him. She called him a thief, and said that he was no kind of man. Mark was saying similar things to Jay. He told Jay that he was going to advise my parents to have my things packed and out in the yard by the time I got home. He said that I was Jay's responsibility now, and if I had to sleep on the street then it would be Jay's fault.
By the time we hung up the phones, we were tired and angry. Jay and I left Jim's, not sure of what to do next. We knew that we should confront my parents, but we were afraid that they would take my car. They had every right to do so, seeing as how the title was in my father's name. We didn't know how we would work without my car, so we planned to avoid my parents for as long as possible. Jay considered driving down to Culpeper so that we could stay with his mother until things calmed down. Finally, Jay remembered a friend he knew from church: Justin Miller. We drove to Justin's house, and Jay explained the situation. Jay was just hoping for a place to stay for the night, but Justin offered his home to us for two months. We were thrilled. After speaking with Justin for an hour or so, Jay and I decided I should call my parents. We couldn't put it off forever. When I called, my father answered. He said that he wanted the two of us to come to their house for dinner. I reluctantly agreed. What else could I do? We owed them some sort of explanation.
We weren't expected at my parents' house for about another hour. Jay and I thought that we could use the extra time to tell Mary that we had gotten married, before anyone else had the chance to. I called her at work and told her we would be over to meet her shortly. As Jay and I drove to the National Wildlife Federation Catalog Outlet where Mary worked, we agreed that I should be the one to break the news. Mary came out of the building when she saw my car. Jay and I got out and approached her. I wasn't sure what to say, so I just came right out and told her that we had married a week earlier. She was unsure of how to take this announcement. At first she didn't even believe us. She was convinced that this was some sort of joke. When it finally sunk in that Jay and I were, in fact, married, she started crying. I asked her if she needed a hug, but she just shooed me away. She said she needed to be alone and got into her car. Jay and I were later informed that she cried with Keith for the majority of that night. After telling Mary our news, I was even more apprehensive about going to dinner at my parents'.
When Jay and I pulled up into my parents' driveway, we were nervous and tense. We had no idea what was awaiting us inside. We had already decided that if they wanted to take the car, we wouldn't let them. We would take it with us and let them pursue it. Naturally, the hope was that it wouldn't come to that.
Jay and I ate dinner while my father sat at the table and watched. It was the most uncomfortable I had ever been in my life. When we had finished, my father directed us into the living room. He and my mother sat in wing chairs while Jay and I sat opposite them on the couch. I remember that as we were sitting there we had about three feet of space between us. My father started asking questions. He asked why we did this, how we planned to support ourselves, where we would live. He also questioned Jay's past and character. At one point, my mother became so upset she had to leave the room. After that conversation (and a few veiled threats), I went upstairs to pack some things that I would need for the next few days. My mother was in my old bedroom with me, watching and crying. She begged me to stay and think about things. The entire time I was packing, she was advising me to get an annulment. No matter what I told her, she seemed set that I would be annulling the marriage sometime in the near future. She was sure that, after some thought, I would come to my senses and get the recommended annulment. Finally, Jay and I left, exhausted and emotionally drained, and made our way back to Justin's.
The days and weeks that followed were extremely difficult on all involved. After about a week of my parents knowing we were married, my mother stopped her constant crying, but continued to press the idea of annulment. She was under the impression that I had been tricked into this union, and thought that I was looking for a way out. She even went so far as to do a background check on Jay, thinking that when I knew his past I would jump at the thought of ending my marriage. Much to her dismay, Jay had already told me everything she uncovered. When Jay was informed of the background check, he called my parents. They had a lengthy conversation where he explained that we were married, we did love each other, and we were not getting an annulment. He asked my father to stop all suggestions of our marriage ending. At that point, an annulment wouldn't even be allowed by the courts. There was no legitimate reason for one. If the marriage were to be terminated, it would have to be by a divorce, something Jay and I knew we were against. Once my father understood this, he spoke with my mother. Although I did still hear talk of annulments and divorces (though she never used the word divorce), it was not as frequently as those first few weeks.
As other people in the church learned of our marriage, we started seeing less and less of our friends. Everyone was very upset over what we had done. People started speculating as to why we married. Some of the reasons were that I was at a low point in my life, I had father issues, I was pregnant (I even had someone suggest that I had an abortion), I was trying to get out of my parents' house, I just wanted to have sex, I was lonely, and the list goes on and on. We continued attending the same church we always had, Fellowship Bible Church, but never felt as welcome as we were before we married. It was made known to us that we had let everyone down and greatly disappointed our friends and family. Because of our horrible sin, we were no longer acceptable.
After we had stayed with Justin for the promised two months, we were unsure of where to go. We had an apartment to move in to, but it didn't become available for another two weeks. Throughout the previous months, my parents had gotten to know Jay a little better. They still were not pleased with him, or the idea of him being married to their eldest daughter, but because they loved me, they allowed us to stay with them until the middle of October.
Those seemed like the longest two weeks of my life. Everyone was tremendously uncomfortable with the situation. Jay did his best to avoid my parents, not wanting to have a nasty confrontation. My mother tried to stay clear of Jay, as well, though my father did attempt to make nice. I did my best to stay in the back bedroom that we were using. I did not want to be subjected to the disappointment in my parents' voices as they spoke to me. By the end of the two weeks, everyone was able to be civil to one another. It still wasn't comfortable, but it was progress.
We moved into a one-bedroom apartment on Franklin Street. It was a rough neighborhood where knife fights were a regularity and the police were constant visitors. Our neighbors upstairs and across the hall enjoyed screaming matches at all hours of the night. The Hispanics across the street stopped their activities to stare whenever I left the building. I felt like I was risking my life just by going outside after dark. Needless to say, we moved elsewhere as soon as our lease expired.
Throughout the year that we lived on Franklin Street, my parents got to know Jay more and more. They may not have been happy with my choice of a husband, but they finally understood that he was my husband, and that was not going to change. My father did his best to keep his opinions to himself, knowing that Jay was now my authority. Unfortunately, my mother didn't see it the same way. She was constantly calling to share unsolicited advice. She had an opinion about everything I said and did, and usually, the opinion was that I was wrong. She didn't agree with the biblical concept of submission, and couldn't understand why I wasn't more domineering towards Jay. She had trouble accepting the fact that Jay and I had decided in advance to have a biblically-based marriage. She thought that submission was outdated and just an excuse for male domination. She felt that a wife was only required to submit to her husband when he really put his foot down. Her thoughts were that, for the most part, the woman is the head of the house.
Jay and I have discussed submission in marriage throughout the entire time we have known each other. We both feel that no partnership (be it in business, marriage, etc.) can be successful if both parties are equal. What would happen if there was a disagreement over a decision that needed to be made? One person needs to be able to step up and make a decision when they are at an impasse. Of course, we feel that the husband's responsibility is to his wife. He needs to take her thoughts and feelings into consideration at all times. The husband's role is to love, care for, and protect his wife. He is called to love his wife as Christ loved the Church. To give up his life for her as Christ did. I, personally, feel that I have the easy job. I have promised to love, honor and obey my husband. He has promised to put me ahead of himself, and only do what is best for us. He is not fulfilling his role if he is being a selfish dictator. All that is required of me is that I listen to the man who loves me more than himself. What could be wrong with that?
Jay and I have now been married for three years. My parents are much more accepting towards my husband (though they still have their days!). He and my father have developed an amazing rapport, especially considering that my father threatened Jay with death when he heard we had married. My mother tries to keep her thoughts and comments to herself, but is still struggling. Jay and I have a wonderfully strong, secure marriage. We are looking forward to many, many more years of the long scenic drives, late nights of poker and board games, walks around town, theological discussions and loving commitment to which we have grown accustomed since July 24th, 2003.