Jon had proposed in a pub on New Year’s Eve, 2014 while the ball dropped on a TV in the background. When we met Lizzie (25) and Jon (27) in their home in January, 2015, they had been engaged just shy of 30 days.
The road from meeting to marrying has been a winding one filled with long distance and personal growth. For about a year and a half, Jon was living in Washington DC while Lizzie finished school in Iowa. Lizzie says,
I had never done um that kind of – you know – thousand-plus-mile long distance, where we only saw each other like seasonally, um and it was really hard. I think the first like six months were fine because I – we were like in the honeymoon phase, so it was easier to talk all the time, so we made that time for each other.
The longer they were apart, the more difficult it became. Lizzie continues,
It was just that typical – like when you see it in movies you know – when you’re in long distance, “aw damn I missed their call again,” or just getting voicemails for a while, or getting that text that’s like, “I’m really tired can we talk tomorrow,” and then it turns into two days. And we just went through a period where it was like the distance was really really grinding against us.
After Lizzie graduated, she and Jon lived together in DC. It wasn’t long before Lizzie got a job back in Iowa, and she and Jon made plans to move again. The decision to move away from his new life in DC was very difficult for Jon. Lizzie says:
We were talking on the phone … I actually had to pull over on the street ‘cause I didn’t know if I was going to cry or not, because it was one of those very like you can feel something rising up in your chest, and you know there’s going to be an eruption, but you don’t know if there’s going to be tears or anger or what. And I was able to channel that into getting him to calm down and talk about the root of the problem and getting him to voice his fears. And I think that was kind of a groundbreaking conversation for us, because you know all of these crazy things had been happening, and I finally got this great job, and you know I was planning this move. And it was just kind of a lot at once, a lot of things piling up, and it erupted for him, and I didn’t know. Like that conversation wasn’t you know the end-all fix – um it was certainly like a placeholder for many more conversations to come – but I think like when I hung up the phone after that conversation, I knew that we were going to be able to get through this …
I’m not a spiritual person by any means um, and I don’t believe in God, but I do believe that like – or and I also don’t believe in soulmates – but I do believe that there are countless people you can meet in your life that could work with you, and if you do meet one of them, like why let go of it?
Here’s why Jon wouldn’t “let go of it”:
She’s always half a step behind me like, “keep going! keep going!” … I love the way she matches me in youthful curiosity. That’s something I like about myself, and that’s something I see in her which is one of the reasons I think she’s always half a step behind, ‘cause she’s just as curious as me about what’s gonna happen next. I also – I love her passion and she has a big heart.
I think another thing that I love so much about our relationship is we talk so much about our future um, and sometimes it’s serious or sometimes it’s just fantasizing, just whimsical thinking um coming out. I – we talked earlier about talking about our wedding years ago when we were still dating um just like, “What are we gonna do? What are we gonna do?” I mean come up with the weirdest things like, “Let’s have giraffes at our wedding! Let’s have a big fountain of cheese!” and stuff like that. I mean just ridiculous things, but just us talking about the future I think makes us stronger. So it doesn’t really necessarily have to be goal-setting or you know solid plans, just taking comfort in knowing that the other person is on the same page.
Lizzie agrees that building a future together is a huge part of what makes their relationship rewarding. She says they’re always looking forward to something: “If we can get these Masters degrees under our belts and kind of find the ideal house for us – that would be kind of a starter home – I think that’s definitely what the next couple of years are looking like. And then little ones can come into the picture.”
Lizzie and Jon value their winding road. As Lizzie puts it, “the hard stuff is kind of the glue like, because it shows you exactly what you can conquer together.”
What have you and your partner conquered together? How has it made you stronger?
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Brooke is a founding author of How Love Lasts.