Written by Shane Hall-Minor
On September 12, 2016, my wife, Robin, and I, happily celebrated our one-year anniversary. We believe our relationship is special, because of the way it actually began. We fell in love before ever meeting or talking on the phone.
When I met Robin, I wasn’t looking to be with anyone. It was the last thing on my mind. I had spent a year trying to repair the damage caused by an abusive ex-girlfriend.
I joined a LGBT military group on Facebook, and one of the members referred me to one person I never expected: a Retired Air Force Veteran named Robin.
My heart was on the mend, I wanted to jump-start my career, and was eager on going back to school. I just needed a guide to help navigate me through the area. I was quite nervous to send her a message, because her Facebook picture looked intimidating. But she sent me a message back a few days later, vowing to help me on my quest.
Our previous relationships left us disappointed, drained, and feeling inadequate. The emotional and physical abuse I endured in my previous relationship caused me to become very distant and quite cautious. We decided to use non-verbal communication to learn more about each other. No phone calls. No Skype. Just old fashioned typing, daydreaming about each other, and a few FB pictures.
As each day progressed, she asked me what I was in the market for in terms of housing, colleges and employment. She even sneaked in a few funny puns to make me laugh. Mind you, we were not “friends” on Facebook, we conversed entirely through FB messenger.
Our conversations became longer and more detailed, to the point we lost track of time. We talked about religion, our military service, politics, current events and sports. Even though we were 900 miles away from each other, I felt like I found a friend down the street from me. So I decided to “friend” her on Facebook, and she accepted.
January became February then March. It was time for me to officially move from Florida. I decided to live in Virginia because of the proximity to Washington, D.C., and Maryland. We spoke more in FB messenger than actual Facebook. LOL. I looked at a couple of her pics and she saw mine, but most of the time, we just enjoyed the conversations we had.
I took a huge risk communicating with this random person (who could have been an ax murderer), but my friend spoke highly of her. During this time, I grew attracted to her in a strange sense. It was something I never experienced before.
I was attracted to her mind, her words, and her positive affirmations.
She was a God-fearing woman like me, liked cats and she was active in the community. Every day she would start our conversations with, “Hello beautiful” and ended the evening with “Goodnight beautiful.”
At first I thought she was trying to be suave, but Robin told me that I should realize and acknowledge how beautiful I was. No one had ever called me “beautiful” and actually meant it, but I started to believe the affirmations and positive words she would tell me daily.
So, I took this strange chance and asked her, “Have you ever grown to love a person you have never seen or heard?” She replied, “Yes. I am speaking to her now.” I was literally diving into an emotional abyss, and I was afraid of the outcome, but we trusted each other. So after knowing each other for three months, I finally called her. I heard her voice and cried as I took the 900-mile trek to the unknown.
We communicated like this for a reason. We wanted to connect with each other on a mental and emotional level–something that many relationships don’t abide by anymore. Once we met a few weeks later, we instantly connected and everything came together. We looked beyond the physical (even though she was quite adorable) and we went straight for each other’s mind.
I felt like a kid in a candy store. I finally met someone that I could be myself with. She loved and adored my mind and body, but she respected both. This was something I wasn’t used to. We literally waited to be intimate with each other, and focused on our mental, emotional and spiritual growth. It was an amazing experience for the both of us, but it came with many challenges.
As we grew to know each other, we realized that in order for the relationship to truly progress we had to be open and honest about everything. That involved opening old wounds, talking about insecurities, and our past lives. As previously stated, my last relationship was very toxic and abusive, so I was quite cautious about divulging my entire personal life to her. But she was patient and very understanding. This was something else I also wasn’t used to.
So I told her everything, down to the last detail. My previous exes, the way I approached them, the instability and how I coped. She was angry and frustrated, but we prayed and I found in my heart to forgive the exes that caused me so much pain. We started going to church together, she told me about positive affirmations, and she introduced me to her cat (which was a large feat in its own right.)
No More Uhauling
During this time of courtship, we never lived with each other. We wanted to “date” each other and figure each other out before making such a huge decision. I didn’t want her to think I “needed her” financially, because I made enough money to live on my own.
I found an apartment in the local area, she introduced me to her friends and I started being social again. The job hunt was long and frustrating. Living in the Washington, D.C., area made federal employment very competitive. I wanted to give up, but she insisted that I keep staying positive and applying for jobs. A federal employee herself, she helped me tailor my resume, network and deal with the interview process. After eight long months thanks to Robin, I finally got a job with the federal government.
I never thought I would be with a woman who cared about my past, present and future. She introduced me to different foods, entertainment and community activities. We had intense debates about local topic–to the point they became a major turn on. Weekly church services, sleepovers and social gatherings followed. We even met each other’s family. Robin and I became we; and the cat made three.
The Answer is Yes!
After being a couple for over a year, Robin popped the question in front of my father. I was shocked because I wasn’t expecting it. Instead of being excited about the wedding, we focused on the pending marriage.
We spent an entire year preparing mentally, financially and spiritually for the wedding. We decided to buy a house we could afford together instead of moving in each other’s home. That way we both started the marriage off with something we both could lose. We both had control of what happens in the home. We made a budget and shared financial responsibilities such as the mortgage, utilities and home improvement.
Marriage counseling was a very important step. We spoke to our pastor about our upcoming marriage, and we saw her biweekly. Every single topic that would be a hindrance was brought up in marriage counseling. We discussed intimacy, family, finance, emotional, physical, and spiritual instability.
Our pastor made sure that we read a book called, The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts. This was essential, because everyone expresses love differently. I was never given actual love by anyone other than Robin, so I had a hard time expressing love.
It Rained on Our Wedding Day
As the wedding day started to arrive, we wanted our theme to represent the both of us. In most weddings, the bride has her way over the ENTIRE ceremony; that was not the case for us because we were both women. Lol. We compromised with each other, and decided to have the wedding outdoors with a country theme.
We are not the typical couple, and decided that the entire bridal party (including ourselves) would wear converse shoes with their bridal attire. The wedding guests wore whatever they like because we wanted everyone to be comfortable.
It rained on our wedding day, but that signals good luck for us. But as soon as the ceremony started, the rain stopped. On September 12 we married in front of our friends and family with the Rappahannock River as the backdrop.
We married during a strange and beautiful time. “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” was lifted, the Supreme Court allowed all states to have same-sex marriages, and military families could receive identification cards, federal and military benefits. We were blessed because we never thought this would happen during our lifetime. It was the start of a beautiful marriage, the beginning of a beautiful union.
Check out the 10 Tips That Helped Us During Our First Year of Marriage