As many of you know, I’m married.
My husband’s name is Cary Brown.
And he’s my best friend.
Our love story is far from conventional, and I think that’s one of the many reasons I want to share it.
We didn’t meet at church.
We didn’t date in high school, break up in college, and reconnect after.
We didn’t grow up down the street from each other.
We didn’t meet through a friend.
We didn’t meet at a bar.
We met online.
When I tell people that, most people are dumbfounded. Online dating has developed a bad reputation for a lot of people. But my experience with online dating was different. And if you want to hear my take on online dating and debunk the lies associated with it, check out this article!
But let’s talk about how I met Cary
AND how I knew I wanted to marry him.
These are the pictures we had on our online dating profiles.
These are the pictures that led us to falling in love.
Our Relationship Timeline
First Chat on Bumble – 10/13/17
First Date – 10/21/17
DTR – 11/26/17
I Love You – 1/29/18
Proposal – 12/14/18
Wedding – 6/15/19
First Move – 8/10/19
How We Met
Cary and I met on Bumble, a dating app that gained popularity because it allows women to initiate the conversations. We talked for a week before going on a date. My opening line: “Saint? Like the football team?” Real romantic right? But it helped spur on some telling conversations about faith and helped me build my trust in Cary before we even met. I told him I was a blogger, so naturally he read my most recent blogpost about my fall bucket list (Kudos for Cary!). One of my fall bucket list items was to take a scenic drive to go leaf peeping. And of course, he asked me to go on a fall drive in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. I obviously said yes, but decided to meet at a coffee shop first to ascertain whether or not he’s a serial killer. Gotta feel out my comfort level before I commit to spending time with a stranger in the car.
We met at a local coffee shop (Vienna Coffee House) and both ordered the Viennese Waltz latte (white chocolate and almond). I decided he’s not giving me serial killer vibes so we get in his car and make our way to the National Park. Because it was a Saturday in October (aka peak season), our short afternoon date turned into a EIGHT HOUR DATE. Traffic was horrible in the park so we spent a lot of time talking and sitting. But by the end of it, I wasn’t tired of talking to him. We hadn’t run out of things to say. So even though our first date didn’t go as planned, it turned out to be perfect. I remember basically forcing Cary to buy me dinner on our way back to Maryville, because I was legit starving by hour 4. I called my roommates on my way home after (who were mildly freaking out after hour 5 of the date) and remember gushing about Cary and how similar our motivations and faiths were. I feel like I was smitten early on because his personality was so different from anything I’d ever experienced.
How I Knew
Every girl dreams of the man they’re gonna marry. Or at least, I did. I remember growing up and reading about characters like Mr. Darcy, Edward Cullen, and Stephen Colley and thinking those were the type of men I wanted to marry. But then reality sunk in, and I came to the realization that the “perfect man” doesn’t exist. But great men do! So I honed in on my non-negotiables: 1. loved Jesus 2. loved me and supported me AND 3. was passionate and compassionate about a life lived for God’s glory. I mean marriage is a monstrous, lifelong commitment, so you have to be a bit choosy. Oddly enough my non-negotiables were challenging to find. But after dating Cary for a couple months, I realized I’d found a forever friend and life partner that was all those things and more.
In April 2018, we were visiting Cary’s Papa in Augusta, GA. His Papa had Alzheimer’s dementia, so Cary wanted me to meet his grandpa pretty early on in our relationship. He didn’t want me to miss out on meeting his last living grandparent. Sadly, he has since passed away, but I am forever grateful I got to meet him before he went to heaven. But I remember watching Cary talk to his Papa thoughtfully and with such endearment. It was heartwarming. After that trip, I remember thinking, “That’s the man I want to marry.” Seeing Cary’s warmth, affection, and deep concern for his people firsthand made me realize I wanted to be on the receiving end of his love forever.
It was that moment and a hundred different more moments that confirmed my “yes”. I knew I wanted to marry someone who loved deeply and would stand by my side always. Someone who loved to love me and encouraged me in all my efforts. I prayed for that man for years, and I found him. Cary is truly my best friend. And I never expected to feel so close and connected to someone. But marriage (and quarantine) has truly brought us closer together. He’s my sounding board, my steady source of encouragement, and my favorite person to talk to. We fight, laugh, bicker, adventure, and love. Our relationship is far from perfect, but we’re learning each and everyday how to be more selfless.
Expect the Unexpected
If you’d told me that my first EVER online date would end in a marriage, I wouldn’t have believed you. Yes, OUR first date was both mine and my husband’s first ever online date. We had both talked to people online, but nothing had come of it. I love that part of our story.
Cary loves Jesus, hiking, Bojangles, superhero movies, Jack & Coke, and fantasty football. He’s goofy and nerdy, and I love that about him. He’s not the man I pictured all those years, he’s better. Sometimes our imaginations can get the best of us. We set these lofty standards and expectations on ourselves that can never be feasibly achieved. When you’re dating, expect the unexpected. Be open to whoever the Lord has on your path.
Never in a million years would I have imagined quarantining and battling a global pandemic during our first year of marriage. Having to spend months in isolation and separation from our family and friends has been the ultimate “leaving and cleaving”. We’ve had to lean on one another more and face our sins and shortcomings head-on. My job has restricted my contact with a lot of people whom I love, but it hasn’t kept my husband away. And I love him all the more because of that!
Our relationship isn’t perfect but it’s our’s. God knew we needed each other. I can’t imagine this year without my husband by my side and I can’t wait to see where our marriage takes us.