Not So Newlyweds: Friendship, Love, and Baseball

Luke & Julianna in 2006, ready for the "Cards" game.

We just celebrated our 5-year dating anniversary. I know, I know, once you get married, you’re supposed to focus more on the wedding anniversary than the dating one, but my theory is that without the dating anniversary, there wouldn’t be a wedding anniversary.

Five years ago was the fall of 2006. Luke and I were in school at OSU, and we were in the middle of a heated Major League Baseball playoff season. A truly diehard St. Louis Cardinals fan, Luke’s contagious enthusiasm for the sport had won me over to watching some of the TV coverage and even convinced me to go with him to a game in St. Louis that September. We had a blast, and it was the beginning of the end of our “just” friendship.

Backing up a little, I don’t actually remember meeting Luke. We grew up in the same church, but because of a bit of age difference, we were never more than casual acquaintances until we were both at OSU. We “met” when his mom sent a few items with me to give Luke at the end of a weekend I had been home. One thing led to another, as they say, and suddenly he was a staple in my daily plans. Along with an amazing group of friends, we had study “parties,” took road trips, and participated in Dessert Club, in which our friends gathered at restaurants for the sole purpose of ordering dessert. Those were such good times, and almost imperceptibly, moments built upon each other until we realized we wanted our time together to outweigh our time apart. So after the trip to St. Louis that September, we had some good talks, experimented with hugs and hand-holding, and decided to start a relationship.

Because we were such good friends, we escaped much of the pressure that is often associated with dating. There were never emotional games or wondering what each other was thinking. We were friends, so we just talked about it…whatever “it” happened to be at the time. And that process has served us well in our marriage. When a tough subject comes up, one of us will inevitably ask, “Can we have a “friend” talk about this?” which means putting aside some of the reactive emotions we might be feeling and instead treating each other with the same respect we would a close friend. Needless to say, our best advice to couples is always, “Be friends first.” Being friends has allowed us to build so many positive memories and live our lives as the adventure that it is.

As I look back at the history of our friendship that turned into something more over these five years, I am truly blessed to recall a plethora of great moments. One of the best will always be that first fall we shared and how it will forever be associated with the baseball games we watched. Because baseball playoffs are such a part of our story, we have a special joy that accompanies this time of year. The Cardinals ended up winning the World Series after we went to their game (because we went to their game? Maybe!), and this year, the Cardinals are in the World Series again. Since we took a return trip to St. Louis this year, we are fully expecting good results from this playoff series. I hope so…because it just seems like when the Cardinals win, we win a little bit, too.

Luke & Julianna, 2011 ~ at another Cardinals game. Who do you think THEY'RE rooting for tonight?