15 Things You Might Not Care To Know About Our Dating Years, But Here You Are Anyway

Amber and I are approaching the Crystal Anniversary, and if I were the Birk-wearing, emu raising, New Age sort often found in these-here Ozarks, this might serve as a sort of mystical omen. And though we both have well-hidden inner hippies, we don’t believe in crystal omens. That being said, fifteen years of marriage is, I think, a sort of mystical miracle. Now before you get carried away and begin wishing us a Happy Anniversary! in the comments, allow me to be clear–our fifteen years does not run until November 13th. However, as a way to commemorate the seeming breath of time comprising these years, I’ve decided to write a series to celebrate our life together. In honor of Amber, I’m writing these pieces in list fashion. (Boy, does that woman love a list!)

Today, I’m sharing 15 Things You Might Not Care To Know About Our Dating Years, But Here You Are Anyway. Is it a bit self-indulgent? Perhaps. Even so, enjoy.

1. A Good Drawl is a Terrible Thing to Waste.

When I first met Amber, she was wearing a purple bow in her hair, and informed me in the thickest southern drawl that she was from Alabama. I asked her whether she rooted for the Tide or the Tigers, and she quipped, “I don’t care about football.” Way to woo a man, eh? She was clearly in to me.

Later that day, Amber was walking down the hall with a girl whose underwear was sticking slightly out of the back of her jeans. I heard her quip, “hey girl, your drawers are creeping out the back of your breeches.”

The girl stopped, stood upright and said, “huh?”

Amber mustered her best mid-western accent and responded, “oh, I’m sorry; your un-der-ware is coming over the top of your blue jeans.”

2. We Christian Mingled to Jars of Clay Before Christian Mingling Was Dot Com.

We took our first date to a small Jars of Clay concert that was held in a neighboring university’s theater in Conway, Arkansas. This is more than a little embarrassing to admit, but every time I hear the theme music for ChristianMingle.com, I could swear I’m back in that little theater.

You might ask why this is embarrassing. Come on… have you seen these commercials?

3. She Often Lies About Our First Kiss.

Amber recalls that I asked her whether I could kiss her after that first date. This is a lie. Let’s be honest; we were having deep and thought-provoking conversation when she jumped over the center-console of my too-tiny Mitsubishi Eclipse and laid one on me.

4. Turtle Cheesecake Can Relieve Sexual Tension

In the early days of dating, there was a good bit of pent-up physical tension. (Ahem.) I recently read, though, that chocolate consumption is addictive because it releases the same chemicals into the brain as certain acts of physical intimacy. (Ahem.) This must explain why we ate our weight in turtle cheesecake at the local coffee shop in those early days.

5. We Were a Part of a Cult, But Not the Kind That Drinks Kool-Aid.

Perhaps this heading is a bit misleading. For the sake of clarity, we attended a very rigid Church of Christ university that, to the best of my knowledge, had boxed God up and shelved him in the library somewhere between Robert Frost and Earnest Hemingway. I had begun an inter-denominational service in those days, one that boasted a few charismatics in attendance. Sure, there are other details, but evidently, when a handful of kids assemble to talk about the wild and unpredictable Holy Spirit at a cessationist school, that assembly gets labeled a cult.

6. She Wore Too Much Purple.

It’s true. Just ask her.

7. I wore Too Much Purple.

This is true, too. You can ask her.

8. Patience and Diamonds Are Mutually Exclusive Things.

Our first date was on my birthday, October 25. By Thanksgiving, I had bought a diamond ring. By January 2, we were engaged. We were married before the next Thanksgiving.

As you can imagine, patience is not one of the most practiced virtues in the Haines’ household, even today.

9. We Were Once Caught Making Out in an Abandoned Train Yard.

I’m not sure there is much more to say about this one. It’s every bit as sordid as it sounds. The truth is, when you go to a rigid Christian university (see above), you’ll look for any old private place to mug down. A word to the young-uns reading this piece: floodlights can reach into every nook and cranny of an abandoned boxcar.

10. Even Scotch Irish Girls Fight in Italian.

Amber’s maiden name was Carothers. For those of you who are into this sort of thing, you’ll note that this means she’s Scotch-Irish, and she has the family tree (and pictures of the homestead castle from the motherland) to prove it. You should note, though, that even fiery-tempered Scotch-Irish girls fight in Italian.

While dating, I suppose I hurt Amber’s feelings in some overtly dude-bro kind of way. I don’t recall the exact details, but in the heat of passion, with malice afore-thought, Amber wrote a blistering all-but-break-up note and dropped it in inter-school mail. (For those of you too young to know, this was our version of email, but it required the use of actual paper and an actual pen.) After dressing me down, she signed the letter “Ciao.”

11. It Pays to Have the Apology First.

In the days of inter-school mail, delivery times were a bit of a crapshoot. Some mail could be dropped through the mail slot and immediately delivered, while other pieces were locked in mail-purgatory until the mailroom gods released them from their penance.

In the morning hours of some otherwise non-descript Tuesday, I received a note in the mail from Amber. It was an apology. I found her on campus, apologized for my dude-bro offense. We side-hugged an apology (in that rigid Christian university sort of way), and then I asked, “but why are you apologizing to me?” She looked at me, blinked in disbelief.

“You didn’t get the other letter?” she asked.

“Nope; not yet,” I said.

“Just wait.”

It was the Ciao letter.

12. We Broke Up For Twenty Minutes.

Nearly two months before the wedding, we broke up for twenty minutes. The details are irrelevant, but during our brief separation, we sat on the couch and had ourselves a good-and-ugly cry. I looked at her and said, “I don’t really want to break up.” She looked at me and responded, “neither do I.” We immediately broke into laughter. That was that. We’ve been together ever since.

13. We Spent the Last Two Months of Our Engagement Apart…

…for the sake of keeping our hands off each other. In retrospect, I suppose we could have simply eaten more turtle cheesecake.

14. Gerbera Daisies Were at The Funeral of Our Dating Relationship.

The death of dating happened in a beautiful church on Lake Guntersville. Amber held a bouquet of gerbera daisies. I held a fistful of tissues for all my blubbering. My groomsmen’s names were Bill, Billy, Kyle, Matt, Connor, Chad, and Grady. I don’t recall the names of Amber’s bridesmaid. The pastor’s name was Phillip. These folks had faith in us, I think.

15. It’s the Memories That Remind Us That We’ve Always Loved Each Other.

In our thirties, we’ve seen too many marriages unwind. When it happens, one party spins some sort of revisionist history, says things like, “I never really loved her,” or, “he’s just always been so selfish.” Remembering the truth of early love is a good place to start when those little lies begin creeping in.

Do you remember?

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  • Oh my word. This is golden … with a hint of purple. You two…

    • sethhaines

      Golden with a hint of purple? Them there’s LSU colors! (Thanks for reading, JDL.)

  • “had boxed God up and shelved him in the library somewhere between Robert Frost and Earnest Hemingway.” – genius line. And I laughed about the turtle cheesecake.
    We’re a year behind you two veterans, but I’m also glad for love and the happy discipline of remembering the years.

    • sethhaines

      “Happy discipline of remembering the years.” Yes… that’s the right way to put it. 14 years, eh? That’s magical, too.

  • Loved reading this. 🙂

    • sethhaines

      Well thank you, Sarah! I figured there were some parts that were a bit… ahem. But we’re all adults here. Right?

  • Martha

    Cried and laughed my way through all of these. Y’all are pacesetters. I’m happy to be riding the Haines coattails. We’ve been talking much lately about marriage and if we should continue to battle alongside friends who are questioning to stay or go…this was a renewal for me to remember it is worth it. And reflecting on the beginning is such a good place to start

    • sethhaines

      Keep battling. And yes… remembering is worth it.

      Much peace as you walk with your friends.

  • Katie Waters

    I am left wondering if you went to Lipscomb or Harding. 😉

    Great read, btw.

    • sethhaines

      Thanks! And… HU. 🙂

  • theblahblahblahger

    Knowing Amber as I do, I fully believe 1, 3, and 10 happened exactly as you’ve described them. 😉

    And 15 is just straight awesome. More people need to work on remembering the beginning…

    • sethhaines

      1, 3, and 10 were some of my favorites to write. She might have pursed her lips when I read them to her. 🙂

  • Jerry

    Ha! What a wonderful read. Nice list. In case I forget come November…Happy Anniversary!

    • sethhaines

      Thanks, Jerry! You can mark it off your list.

  • Jerry

    Heh…what list. 🙂

  • Amy Smith

    Ciao. I’ve never heard that story. Love it.

  • Awesome. We will celebrate TWENTY NINE years this year. Crazy, right? I think if I compiled a list it would violate my inner “Is it okay if my pastor/daddy/husband’s boss/neighbors read this?” checklist. Ahem.

  • Oh Seth. I love this, thank you. You guys are fun to read about. Looking forward to the rest of the series. 🙂

  • This put a big old stupid grin on my face. Here’s to the years of young love.

  • Nancy Le

    awww, I loved reading this; made my day, I’m all warm and fuzzy now 🙂

  • Oh, loved this. I read parts out loud to the hubs because I was laughing out loud.

  • Sarah H

    It’s making me chuckle realizing how few will really get the bow and purple comments. 😉 Loved this.

  • 3 is my favorite, with 1 a close runner-up. Really, how could we not fall in love with Amber right along with you??

    Thanks for doing this, by the way–for sharing the insides and outsides and upside downs of marriage and keeping us all accountable to “the truth of early love.” It’s good medicine.

  • Laura Bull

    I don’t think i realized our timelines were so similar 😉 we just started a year behind you guys… And you’re right, remembering is so sweet, so healing and so good at fanning the embers of a cherished marriage!

  • Monica Sharman

    Out of this whole piece, the one thing you chose (in #9) as a “tweet this” quote? Couldn’t resist. I clicked to tweet. But it didn’t work—too many characters. Or too much character.

    Thanks for a fun read this morning.

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  • #8 is us. First date, his birthday in late December. Proposal on Valentines Day and married mid-October. Almost 37 years ago now. Fun memories with more to make.

  • pastordt

    This is why it’s so important to tell your story, over and over and over and over. This is what can keep us from rewriting history, from telling ourselves the lies about the past that contribute to so many marriages falling apart. LOVE this list. Love you both. Enjoy Italy!!

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