Our arranged marriage – sort of

ExitWhen people ask Brance and I about our love story, we often laughingly refer to ours as an arranged romance and marriage. And we are halfway serious.

In fact, early on in our dating, my mom told me that she and dad loved Brance, even before I knew I did. A funny story for another day.

A beautiful thing about our relationship was how many people, who loved and cared for us, helped to bring us together. Brance and I joke that our incompetence required this. But, in all seriousness, we now see what a gift this was to us individually, to our relationship, and now to our subsequent marriage. Plus, it makes for a fun story, don’t you think ?

To have outside guidance, love, and support surrounding your love life is a huge, huge blessing. This is how life worked in most cultures until the last century. Parents, family, friends, and community served in this valuable role for couples. And yet, today, many couples are floating around in relationships that are islands – completely cut off from the people who love and care about them the most. The people who could give valuable insight and wisdom.

Brance and Lauren

I admit, I had a couple of island romances in college before meeting Brance. So no judgements coming from here. But with Brance, things were different – kind of unexpectedly old-fashioned. And it ended up being far more wonderful than I could have ever imagined.

My mom met Brance first. I was not too sure when she told me about this new, handsome man attending church. I was especially not sure when she informed me that she had told him that she had a daughter recently broken up from a long-term relationship. I had just moved back to my hometown. I was suddenly not too thrilled to meet this guy and was pretty sure the feelings would be reciprocated.

But awkwardly meet, we did. And while I found him attractive, I didn’t feel ready to be in a relationship. Although, this did not deter people in our lives who cared about us.

A couple of weeks after the awkward introductions at our small church, we “bumped” into one another in the church’s parking lot one Sunday after the service. Come to find out, unbeknownst to us, we were both waiting for a lunch “date” with the pastor and his wife. Clearly a setup (one we laugh about and are very thankful for, today).

Cutting Cake

An awkward lunch ensued where we both said very little over plates of tacos. Brance walked away thinking I was uninteresting and silent. I thought that if he liked me, he would certainly contact me at home or work. Weeks passed and I heard nothing.

But those who cared for us didn’t give up. My parents invited Brance to a family dinner and he accepted the invitation. After we were married, I learned that he had asked the secretary in the office next to his studio, who also attended our church, if this dinner invitation was a setup.

No, he was assured, Lauren’s parents were just really hospitable, friendly people.

Although, the secretary was being completely honest, you can believe that this was a setup. Not of my own doing, but a setup none the less. And I didn’t feel that I could excuse myself, since my mother had invited Brance in my presence.First Dance

The funny thing is this. I didn’t have much hope, or desire even, for a relationship with this man who so many people I loved and trusted seemed to like. I was still holding out hope that that ex would see his grave mistake and return to sweep me off my feet. Or, perhaps, I would find employment elsewhere and begin a life in a different, more exciting place in the world. I didn’t want to get stuck in this small town.

Without help, I’m certain Brance and I would have never ended up together.

The thought of that makes me tear up. I love Brance so much. He really is one of the best people I know and I can’t imagine my life without him. He is an incredible, loving husband and father. I just melt when I get to see him interact with our girls – it’s giggles, and cuddles, and fun. And that man, he has helped me grow in so many ways. Our family and friends certainly knew better than me.

In the casual environment of a family dinner, of meatloaf and mashed potatoes, we finally had a comfortable conversation. And here sitting around the table with my parents and siblings, Brance and I discovered that we had things in common. One of those was a love for music. That began a string of dates to concerts and shows –  mostly in the bluegrass genre (Brance’s other love :). And those dates led to a more serious relationship where friendship grew deeper and love blossomed.

Wedding Party

I would describe our romance as one where love grew softly. Attraction was there almost from the beginning. But it took the guidance, love, and help of people who cared about us to move us along – to help us see the potential in a relationship with one another. We are forever grateful for them. Because, without them, we very likely would have never ended up together.

Did you require outside help to get you and your spouse together? Do tell!

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