I'm not entirely sure if all geniuses share the quality of excellent self-control and idealism that Johnny exhibits. A few months after we met his ability to harness his desires for whatever reason became apparent to me. At the time it was his belief in purity that cause him to reign it in. Unfortunately for me, this meant no make-out sessions, and for an 18 year old I wished he had a little less self-control in this area. But alas, the moment I kissed him at the alter was only our third kiss in 2 years, since he had buckled under my immense pressure and temptation a few times. I take a small amount of pride in being able to to tempt the most self-controlled person I've ever met.
He was so methodical about life, relying on information to help him make decisions, while I relied on my intuition. In conversations he would spout of readings or quotes with a perfect word for word recollection. He also knows the first and last name of almost every person he quotes, while I would be able to give you the idea or feeling behind the quote but not be able to regurgitate it or tell you who said it. Like I mentioned, he had memorized more of the Bible than anyone I know and was able to impress anyone with his knowledge and viewpoints. The thing that always worried me, though, was his lack of emotional connection. Now that we've been married for 8 years I have a different view on this, but at the time it was hard for me.
If you've never been to a church before there are a few ways people go about showing their faith outwardly. Some people are incredibly warm and friendly. They will usually ask you what God's been doing in your life, they will spontaneously pray over you if you are in need and they will close their eyes and raise their hands to the ceiling while singing. It's a very emotionally connected faith. Johnny, on the other hand, was more of a theological teacher. It's not that he lacked warmth, but he wasn't going to be the comforting person or the recklessly abandoned person prostrate on the floor in the sanctuary. He was reserved, constantly relying on his knowledge of the Bible instead of his emotions.
I grew up with male role models that weren't emotional, so I thought that I wanted an emotional male. Someone who was comforting and able to be vulnerable in a real way. But it's often that we're attracted to the exact thing we're used to seeing. I was so used to my emotions being disregarded and seen as volatile/embarrassing that I thought I would never be with someone like Johnny who perpetuated those feelings in me. It was probably the most confusing and difficult part of my decision to marry him.
Luckily, I am also a collector of all things novelty. I love quirky, weird and unique things. Johnny's brain is unique. He drew me in because he was so different. And surprise! This was one of the reasons I married him. We need to be intrigued by our partner. If we expect them to be a certain way and then they "obey us" how is that fun? We think we know what we want for ourselves but what if we approached love and relationship with more curiosity instead of trying to find the "perfect match". I don't think we can calculate what kind of person we would be good with. I think we can get close, but at the end of the day we need that curiosity about the other person and how they see the world. It's a fresh perspective. It kicks us out of our normal way of thinking and can challenge us.
Back to the story. An interesting piece of this story is the fact that Johnny and I never really "dated", or at least we never labeled it as that. And as I mentioned, there wasn't any physical contact...what do you call that? So you can imagine my surprise one evening when we were out visiting with his parents and he took me down into one of the bedrooms to talk. Remember how I said he made decisions? The previous Sunday he heard a sermon about marriage and wanted to share his thoughts with me. He said, "the pastor was talking about how we always think we need to have all our ducks in a row in order to get married. We think we need to have our life figured out, a job in place, a home, etc. But in reality we can go through those things with someone. Literally build a life with someone. We don't have to always wait to have stuff figured out." (I want to remind you that we were 19 years old when he was saying this to me.) In my head I was like, "..........okay..........and?!?!" He continued, "So, I think we should get married...and I know you want a summer wedding so I was thinking this summer." (it was March at the time) My response? "I feel like I could throw up."
Little did I know that Johnny had already told his parents about this and had the plan to talk with my parents later that week. At this point in time we had known each other for a year and a half. The part of the story I haven't mentioned is Johnny's incredible obsession with me since day one. It was actually very healing for me to be pursued by a genius, given my track record with school and measurable intelligence. When Johnny loves you, he's very serious about it, and he doesn't give up. I can remember multiple letters he wrote me explaining in detail why he loved me. They were sweet but also felt like persuasive essays. I found it endearing and a little weird. So when someone like this asks you to marry them, you know they've thought it through in ways you can't even imagine.
But now it was my turn. I needed to tap into my intuition and decide if this was right for me. I came up with a 3 part plan. First, I made a questionnaire for my best friends to fill out about Johnny. Second, I wrote over 10 pages of non-stop thoughts on who Johnny was, without stopping, I just let it flow. Third, we went to a marriage counselor who actually ended up cutting our sessions short because he said we were ready. I was really shocked by this. By all accounts we shouldn't have "been ready". We never dated, we had only know each other a little over a year and we were 19 years old.
About a month after our first conversation Johnny proposed for real. He didn't get me a ring, because I'm not a diamond girl and we had no money, but he did hand me a quarter from 1960. He proceeded to tell me about how quarters from before 1960 are made of close to 80% silver and he thought we could hammer out our own rings. Which we did.
(later we tattooed our rings)
Two months into our three month engagement I had what you might call Cold Feet. Johnny's inability to connect emotionally with me was just one of the components in my anxiety. I also had this fear that due to his intense self-control and idealism that he would never let loose, except on a snowboard...which was a small glimmer of hope. I met with my family and told them my worries. They agreed that this didn't sound like a good decision. I was convinced for a moment that I should call it off.
I wanted my intuition to give me a big YES or NO. But it rarely works that way. Intuition is when our mind draws upon all the data we've gathered in our heads, all the scenarios we've experienced, how their voice sounded, what they did, who I believe I am...and I'm sifting through all of it at rapid speed to come to a decision.
Immediately after talking with my family I headed over to break the news to Johnny. I told him we needed to talk. He asked if I wanted to take a walk. Walking has always helped us process things together and since that walk we've worked many things out this way. We walked briskly through the dark neighborhoods of NE Portland as I poured my heart out. I said everything, I expressed all my fears about marrying him and why I wanted to call it off. He stayed emotionally stable, no begging, no tears, yet I could hear the sincerity in his voice. He said, "If this is how you truly feel then I want you to do what you need to do, I don't want a reluctant wife who regrets marrying me later on." And when I told him I wanted a man more like my previous boyfriend; an adventurous, spontaneous, romantic guy, Johnny said, "He never truly loved you, he may have been romantic, but he didn't love you, I LOVE you, so much."
At this moment I wanted him to make a scene, get emotional, "fight for me"...But he expressed his love with an intensity that was serious and realistic. He wasn't going to try and force someone into marrying him if they didn't want to. And something deep within me knew I needed this. I needed his realistic, genius mind to balance out my romantic, day dreaming mind. He could ground me and love me with a commitment that surpasses the volatile nature of many romantic relationships.
This is when I began falling in love with his stoic nature and genius mind.
After that walk I felt more comforted but still needed to think things through. I left Johnny that night with a question mark. I went back home and re-read the 10 pages I had written about him. This is one of the many reasons I like writing down my experiences, thoughts and feelings. They act as a mentor in times of confusion. So there I was, mentoring myself with past writings about Johnny. These are some of the most beautiful pieces I've ever written because they describe the truth about Johnny's character. In re-reading these words I discovered that I truly admired him. I also trusted him...he says what he means and means what he says. He is of the highest quality.
I realized that we tend to chase after the "fluff" of a person instead of the truth of that person. I wanted Johnny to be this romantic, emotional man, but that wasn't him. And over the years we have built new parts of our relationship together, and he has become more romantic and emotional, but he is still Johnny. I've come to truly love him for that. I now see his own version of romance in the ways he cares for me. They may not look like the typical romantic movie scenes, but they are deep, honest and intentional.
So...we got married. I still didn't feel like I "loved" him. But I don't think I really knew what that meant. What I did know was that Johnny was committed to me fully. And within that container of trust ANYTHING can be built and cultivated. When you're married to a empathetic genius you know they will never stop growing. They have high standards for themselves. Those qualities transferred into his desire to be an epic husband to me. More on that later...