Engagement Stories: Ashley & Tyler

Photo by Elizabeth Ngundue Phtotography

On March 27, 2014, a guy named Tyler called me. All I knew about him was that he was five years younger than me, was in seminary, and worked at the same school my best friend worked at (she was our matchmaker). I was skeptical about yet another blind set-up, but I agreed to give him my number.

When my friend first told me about Tyler, I almost said no to being set up. I was 31 and single, so I’d been on enough blind dates to last a lifetime. The past year had been full of relationship ups and downs, which left my heart feeling a little beat up and bruised when it came to romance. I had decided to take a break from dating in order to have a few months without the drama and emotional roller coaster of getting to know someone, managing expectations, and the inevitable disappointment when it didn’t work out. I said yes mostly because I felt bad saying no, but I truly didn’t think anything would come of it. I don’t know if it’s possible to have zero expectations, but I had as close to zero as you can get.

But during that first 30-minute conversation we discovered we had the same taste in books and music. I was pleasantly surprised that this random guy was actually really cool and interesting. My interest was piqued, and I looked forward to our weekly Sunday evening phone calls. During those weeks, I began to fall in love with a man I had yet to meet. From the start I could tell there was something different about Tyler. I felt so comfortable around him, and he was 100 percent confident in who he was — which meant he didn’t try to be all smooth or too cool for school. He was open and willing to be vulnerable, so I felt safe doing the same. The more he gave to the relationship, I found myself wanting to reciprocate. It was a beautiful thing to fall in love with someone who gave love freely, with no strings attached.

As we got to know each other, I noticed Tyler had many attractive qualities — he was hard-working, was well-spoken, asked interesting questions and told good stories, was self-aware and introspective — but it was more than just his character that I found attractive. He was upfront and direct in his pursuit of me, and not once did I wonder what was going on or where the relationship was headed. He let me know he was interested and made it a priority to intentionally get to know me. And he always followed through. Even though I hadn’t met him in person yet, we had built a solid friendship, and I knew he was trustworthy and sincere.

We had also put work into dealing with our own issues — we both had benefited from professional counseling, a strong church community,  and we had a really good sense of who we were as individuals and what qualities were most important in a spouse. So we were both ready for marriage when we met each other because we had already worked through our own baggage in order to be healthy. I am convinced that healthy people attract other healthy people, and crazy attracts crazy.

Two months after our initial phone call, I flew to St. Louis to meet him. Tyler picked me up from the airport with a bouquet of flowers and had the entire visit planned. It was the best last first date ever! Spending that quality time together confirmed for both of us that God had clearly brought us together, and we were excited to see where it would lead. The thought and planning he had put into the weekend was definitely attractive! I was able to just enjoy getting to know him by spending time together instead of trying to figure out what he was thinking. I could relax and be myself because he was a man with a plan. That communicated to me that he respected and genuinely cared for me. Plus, we ate at lots of really good hole-in-the-wall restaurants, so bonus points for keeping me well fed!

After five months of long-distance dating, I accepted a job in St. Louis. I had been looking for a new job for over a year before I met Tyler, so the timing was truly amazing. God provided in so many little ways, all of which confirmed that this was the right job at the right time. So Tyler helped me pack up my house and made the 13-hour drive from Colorado to Missouri with me. I knew after that weekend that he was a keeper! The long-distance part of our relationship had been hard, but it also set a strong foundation of friendship, for which I’m really thankful. We learned so much about each other by having focused and intentional conversations about all aspects of our lives. We covered a lot of ground quickly, due to not having any other distractions. It helped us to really know each other beyond the surface level.

Living in the same town was great, so we started talking seriously about getting married after just a few weeks of my being back in St. Louis. After meeting each other’s families and watching our relationship only grow stronger in the midst of a ton of change (mostly for me), we knew getting engaged was the next step.

On Oct. 4, after hiking to the top of Mount Buford and having a picnic dinner as the sun set over the valley, Tyler asked me to marry him! It was the most beautiful sunset I had ever seen, and everything about the day was perfect. Tyler reminded me of God’s redemption in both of our stories, and he slipped a gorgeous ring onto my finger. He even planned a surprise lunch the next day, where we celebrated with our friends and family.

Most of you have followed my journey from wrestling with an extended season of singleness, to meeting Tyler and figuring out long-distance dating, to moving back to my hometown. Along the way, I appreciated Boundless articles like “Not Your Buddy,” “Brother, You’re Like a Six,” and Lisa’s vulnerable interview on the Focus on the Family daily broadcast. So often I was encouraged to know I wasn’t the only one struggling with being single and trying to make sense of life when it doesn’t go as planned.

Tyler is the best man I know, and I’m so proud I get to be his wife. We complement each other well, and he helps me be the best version of myself. Now that I’m engaged, I can see how everything during my years of singleness had been preparing me for Tyler. Those years were not wasted, but God had been very specifically shaping me for this moment with this man. As someone who will be married a few months shy of my 33rd birthday, I can honestly say that Tyler was worth the wait!

Are you engaged or newly married? We’d love to hear your story and how Boundless was helpful to you along the way! Email us at [email protected]. For more stories like this one, go to Engagement Stories.


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