Five years ago, I woke up a single woman and fell asleep a wife. I married the man that I had fallen in love with it as a teenager and over 10 years later, we are still here, still together, still in love. So I can’t help but get all lovey-dovey on this special day, and tell you the story of how Brian and I became man and wife.
It was 2001 and I was 15 years old. The house across the road was for sale and within weeks a new family was moving in. I remember the moment I first saw him gathering boxes from the trailer with his best friend and I was wondering which of the boys would actually become my new neighbour.
From that day on, he and I seemed to be playing this silly teenage game of walking around on the street hoping that the other would be brave enough to come out of their house and introduce themselves. I would use my little sister as an ally, walking up and down the street with her as she rode her bike, all the while hoping he would finally come out and talk to me. I could see his house from our lounge room window so I knew he walked to the local McDonalds where he worked after school and I hoped one day he would have to walk past me as he went to work.
Eventually we did meet, in the middle of the street and as soon as he shook my hand when he introduced himself this amazing thought just popped into my head ‘This will be the father of your children’. I don’t know if I believe in love at first sight but something happened between us in that moment. Something that we both felt and that is very hard to explain. We talked till dusk standing on the driveway feeling awkward and yet completely comfortable with each other at the same time.
His name was Brian and he was a total opposite to boys I had been attracted to before. He was really shy and yet I could see he was wise. He told me he loved sports and was heavily into athletics, even making it to #2 in Australia for his age group. He lived with his mum and step-dad and his own dad had died when he was just 10 years old. He made me – the girl who can talk underwater – want to shut up and listen to him and hear his view of the world. Brian was so different to me and yet so the same. Like my opposite and yet my equal. We both knew something had begun and that it was something important. Momentous even.
I had just finished a job interview with a local store and was at McDonalds with my little sister when Brian came in to check his roster. He saw me and we talked some more and he walked me home – it was sooo handy living in the same street! Similar scenarios happened over and again until he finally had the guts to ask me to the movies. I can still remember being about to walk in to the cinema and him asking me “So what does this mean? Am I your boyfriend now?” and – although I now have no idea why I would have thought this was a good idea – I told him I would make him wait till the end of the movie before I gave him his answer. We watched Pearl Harbour and as he slipped his hand inside mine, I caved and whispered, “I will be your girlfriend” and that was that.
For a while…
We dated for a few months at that stage and Brian became my first proper, official kiss. We saw each other nearly every day, spent so many hours talking together on the street until the darkness fell and we knew we had to make our ways across the street and back home. It was lovely and it was love? I have to admit I was really afraid of the feelings I was having about Brian. Everything was going along exactly like with my previous few boyfriends but for some reason this felt different. And it scared me. I was feeling out of control and unsure and I made the heart-breaking decision to break-up with Brian to protect myself from my feelings. I was shaking, absolutely sick to my stomach as I told him how I felt and what I needed to do. He was shocked and upset and on that day he showed me how much he cared about me by being so vulnerable and I showed him how strong and stubborn I can be when I make a decision. It didn’t seem like it at the time but this was such an important day for our relationship.
Brian didn’t speak to me again for over a year. And yes, we were still living across the road from each other. Neither he nor I spent any time walking up and down the road anymore and I rarely went to McDonalds in case he was working. It was lucky that we didn’t go to the same school because we were doing a pretty good job of avoiding each other at home. And yet, why did I keep looking out the lounge room window to see if I could see him drive to work? Why did watching him be dropped off home by a girl I didn’t recognise cause anger to stir inside me about a boy I now barely knew? Why did I feel so strange when my dad asked me why I didn’t speak to ‘that nice blonde boy’ anymore? I thought about him every day but I was sure that was the end of our time together. I knew I had hurt him and I didn’t know how to come back from that place.
My opportunity came one day when my mum and I had had an argument on our way home in the car. We both stormed into the house and mum very uncharacteristically mentioned that I should go outside and talk to Brian because she didn’t really want to be in the house with me right at that moment. Of-course being the sullen teenager that I was, I slammed the front door with a “Fine!” and found myself walking down the driveway straight towards him.
He was working on his new car in front of his place and had turned towards our house when he heard me slam the door. We were both looking at each other and I realised how foolish I had been and how stupid I must look at that very moment all hot and angry with my argument with mum still fresh in my mind and I was about to just run away when he smiled at me and said, “Hi.” We began talking and before we knew it the sun was going down. He asked me to the movies and I accepted.
As we were sitting on a seat waiting to go into the cinema, I noticed that we were sitting close. Closer than just friends but not as close as a couple would sit. My mind was a jumble of thoughts and just as I decided to go with my heart and move closer, Brian dropped a bombshell. “Andi, I have a girlfriend” he said and I jumped up from that seat like someone had lit my pants on fire! He reassured me that it was okay that we were at the movies and that we could be friends but I immediately told him that this didn’t feel right to me. Obviously it didn’t feel too wrong either because I stayed! Brian confided in me later that he hadn’t stopped thinking and wondering about me since we last spoke and I told him I had felt the same.
Needless to say Brian broke up with his former girlfriend and on December 4th 2002 we officially began dating again. In the next 3 years we celebrated some amazing milestones together and moved out into our own apartment the year after I finished school. That was a huge learning curve for us and we had very little money but we survived. Brian was an apprentice mechanic at the time and I had begun an Education degree while working part-time in retail. It was a strange time for me. I didn’t know what I really wanted to do with my life after my application to become a Drama Teacher was rejected and I wasn’t feeling fulfilled with the straight education degree I was enrolled in. I quit my part time job that I had worked in for over 3 years and I spent a lot of time at home, by myself for the first time in my life. I think I became a little depressed, or maybe just unsure of where life was going. I felt good about being with Brian but I didn’t feel good about myself. I decided to quit the degree after the first semester ended and transfer to a Human Services degree where I could focus on my passion for working with young people but in a community setting instead of a school.
In 2005 we travelled overseas with my family and Brian was able to see where I was born. I remember writing a letter to Brian after the holiday, expressing to him how much it meant to me that he came with us, that he loved my country and my culture and fully accepted that part of me. I remember being grateful that if we decided to start a family that Brian would know as much about me as possible before that happened down to having seen the places where I grew up in Croatia. That was the first time I ever mentioned us being married and having a family.
When we returned from overseas and our fabulous holiday, we moved in with our best friends who were also a couple. Unfortunately, cracks were beginning to form in my relationship with Brian. When it comes down to it, there were some serious communication issues between us so we mutually decided to break up. This time, neither of us cried, and we talked about it over a lovely dinner… it was most certainly the right thing to do and it was mutual. I guess that old saying sums it up pretty well, “If you love someone let them go, if they come back to you they are yours forever and if they don’t they never were.”
We tried really, really hard not to speak to each other for the time we were apart but gosh it was difficult. So difficult in fact, that we couldn’t do it! We both dated other people for those months but would meet up once a month at least. My mum sat me down one day and asked why I was still seeing Brian if I was serious about ending the relationship and I honestly couldn’t answer why, except that I felt pulled to him. We decided that we wanted to try again and after about 5 months apart we got back together, moved in with each other and Brian proposed in September 2006! We just knew this was it and we didn’t want to be apart again.
We didn’t want a long engagement and we decided to marry on May 5th 2007. There was no special reason for the date except that it just seemed to jump out at us when we were looking at the calendar. We were married in the church that Brian had gone to school in and where coincidentally I had had my first communion when we arrived in Australia. Being Croatian, I really wanted us to celebrate our marriage with family and friends and this meant having lots of room to dance and party. Most wedding venues had very small dance floors so we decided to hire a hall and decorate it ourselves for the reception. There were some drama’s leading up to the wedding day but that doesn’t matter, at the end of the day I married my soulmate and 5 years later we are still going strong! He is the father of my children, the love of my life and my best friend.
Marriage hasn’t always been easy. The first year was really tough. We miscarried a pregnancy just 3 days after saying our vows and continued to have a hard time falling pregnant for the rest of the year. Hannah was our saving grace and I don’t know if we would have made it if we hadn’t fallen pregnant with her when we did. I was depressed and was not taking the miscarriage well at all and everyone else – including Brian – had gotten on with their life. After some huge arguments and deep heart-to-heart conversations, we somehow muddled through.
We were still struggling a bit after Hannah was born and having to live with my family at the time was not helping. I had found a new passion in everything related to natural birth and parenting and at first Brian couldn’t understand my fascination. He even said to me once that I was so different to what he had expected me to become. We both had to let go of pre-concieved ideas and expectations and grow with each other.
In the last 2 years we have managed to do that really well. Blake was a difficult newborn who cried a lot and slept little. I cried a lot and slept little as well. Plus looked after a toddler. This was a really trying time but instead of crumbling we grew stronger. Brian was my rock and although there was tension occasionally when he or I felt too stretched, I was so grateful that I could lean on him at that time. We began to work extremely well together as a team and trust in our family. Brian became completely comfortable with the attachment/connected parenting practices we were adopting and we felt confident that we were doing the right thing for our family. We were all finally on the same page at the same time.
People often say that having children will either make a good marriage stronger or completely dessimate a weak one. I am so happy to say that our marriage and relationship has been made stronger by having children and we have never once regretted having children at a young age. It made the most sense to us and we are thrilled with the rewards for our ‘risk’. We have tried to put our relationship first as much as possible, though I will admit that there were definately months where the kids came first. We feel that life is just a passage of seasons and we know that in 20 years we will have hours, days and weeks all to ourselves again, so we see no sacrifice in spending this time with our children now. We don’t do date nights although we do try to make time for each other weekly. Our communication has improved greatly but we are both still learning from each other. Marriage is always about learning.
Even after all this time, even when everything is so familiar and so not new, there are always unexpected joys, adventures to go on, and little things that happen that make me melt. That is what I love about marriage and about being married to Brian. Happy 5th Wedding anniversary babe, and thank you for always being there and holding my hand xx
Fun Facts about US!
- We still own a house in the street we met in. We bought the house Brians family had moved into all that time ago, when his parents moved north in 2007.
- The boy that jad been with Brian that first time I saw him was his best friend and at Brian’s 18th birthday party we set him up with my good friend from school. They began dating and then we lived with them after our overseas holiday. They have been married for almost 5 years themselves, were best man and bridesmaid at our wedding and they are now Hannah’s Godparents!
- When Brian and I were discussing our childhoods early on in our relationship we realised that when I moved to Australia I had been living in the same area as him and his family when we were around 10 years old. I mentioned that I remembered seeing a very blonde boy playing in a laneway with his dark haired friend and Brian told me that one of his school friends used to live in that exact laneway and they would play on their skateboards, so it must have been him!
- We are both Capricorns. For 6 days every year we are the same age until Brian celebrates another birthday
- We have done so much travelling while being together., it is a shared love of ours. We have been overseas twice and have seen most of Europe. A lot of our holidays in the beginning were road trips and one of our first was to Port Douglas in North Queensland stopping along the way. Most of Brian’s family lives in Rockhampton so we drive up there at least once a year, was usually twice before we had children. We have been on countless weekends away and camping holidays and we have certainly not stopped since having children but that is a post for another day!
- To this day Brian knows only a handful of words in Croatian and they include the words for beer and meat – the most important things in life of-course!
- We have lived in 7 different houses together in the last 10 years, NOT including almost as many short stints living with my parents in their granny flat whilst saving money!
- Our names join up – BRIANDREA – I think that means we were meant to be ;)!