My Marriage Journey
If you’ve been following my Instagram or blog for a while now, you know that I am married to Mitchell Taylor Varela. The multi-passionate creative, determined, wise, but rarely seen man of my life. He’s very determined to not become an Instagram husband but we’ll see haha! This is our marriage journey.
Mitchell and I met while working at a small private college in San Diego in August of 2018. I had just moved back to America and into my parent’s house after my year of teaching abroad in China.
I was a receptionist and Mitchell was an admissions counselor. 90% of the conversations that built our friendship were held over the front desk. Sound like a familiar TV show? Rhymes with Jam and Pim in the Smoffice??
Yes, that was us. At the time, I was casually seeing another guy from a dating app. That turned out to be a huge blessing for us because it gave us time to get to know each other without the anxiety of thinking that either of us had a crush on each other. Or at least, that’s what I thought… Mitchel had other ideas.
We hung out with our coworkers at lunches and had a few after work brewery trips where we always got along great. I loved that Mitchell asked me questions about myself and genuinely listened to the answers no matter how long I droned on. Extrovert problems lol!
The First One-on-One
Where are my Bachelor and Bachelorette fans??
Anyways, in October, I had a really bad day at work and Mitchell had offered to go for a hike with me to talk it out. In his psychology logical mindset, he intended to be a good friend and listen to my frustrations. Instead, 2 hours and 5 miles later, he left with all the feels scattered across Mission Trails.
We didn’t even hug goodbye, but Mitchell got in his car and prayed that if this was something he was supposed to pursue, that God would make a way for us.
Later that week, I asked Mitchell to go to a coffee shop with me during our lunch break. Mitchell was baffled and a bit panicked because years before, he had joked with all of his college friends that when a girl came along and asked HIM to coffee, he would marry her. What he didn’t realize is that I was going to talk about the guy I was dating the whole time instead hahah!
Thankfully, he was not deterred and decided to pray and wait. With a steady stream of coffee, donuts, New Girl gifs, and trips to the Point Loma Tide Pools, he continued to grow on me as potentially more than a friend.
A few months later over the front desk, I told my good pal Mitchell that I had been dumped. He listened patiently and what I saw as genuine empathy was him trying to hold back joy that I was now available.
The Windup to a DTR
We made plans the following week to take another trip to the Point Loma Tide Pools. At sunset in the freezing cold winds of November, he told me that he really enjoyed hanging out with me and felt like something was missing when we weren’t together. He said he knew that I had just gotten out of a relationship and wanted to be cautious but ask “if I would ever consider going on a date with him in the future”.
I wasn’t as surprised as I thought I would be but had realized a few weeks earlier that Mitchell had SO many of the qualities I was looking for in a spouse and so many that the last guy was severely lacking in comparison. I told him that I was flattered and really enjoyed his company too but wanted to make sure that I had enough space to process the last breakup so that I could give myself time to CHOOSE Mitchell and not just fall into him because he was there.
Mitchell was so kind and understanding and suggested we take the following week not to text each other and try to limit our contact at work so that we could clear our heads. This way, we would be in prayer on our own and be ready to make an informed decision one way or the other.
We agreed that after 1 week, we would reconvene and decide what we wanted to do.
The First Date
Friday, November 30th. 7pm at a fancy Brockton Villa dinner in La Jolla Cove. I try to convince Mitchell that this isn’t a first date (because I still wasn’t sure what to do), to which Mitchell responds “Well, this is probably our 6th or 7th date really. Let’s call it what it is.” I laugh and we enjoy our dinner, go for a walk and have a really intense heart to heart.
I told Mitchell that I’m not interested in “just dating” anyone. I was tired of the apps and the games and the uncertainty. I wanted to know that this was serious if we were going to move forward, not just “you’re cute and I see you 40 hours a week so this is convenient”. Thankfully, he felt the same way.
The date lasted till 3am as we sat and talked and watched the seals from a park bench at the cove. On this date, Mitchell let slip that he loved me and I pretended not to hear hahah!
Like the cautious nerds we are, we decided to spend another week of alone time thinking, praying… and writing each other 3 page word documents about our intentions in pursuing a much more serious relationship. Which I still have in our marriage journal!
Our hopes and expectations matched, even that neither of us wanted children of our own in the future. We saw God had been working on both of our hearts for a long time and making our views align. We decided to pursue the beginning of a courtship. Sound SO cheesy, I know! Had you asked me at 16 if I would “court” someone, I would’ve laughed in your face and asked if the guy was Amish.
But we decided that term better fit what we were doing because it wasn’t casual for us. We could visualize the potential of being each other’s spouse and wanted to be careful and intentional moving forward.
The First Kiss
On December 9th, after several hours of emotionally vulnerable and intense conversation, while overlooking the San Diego Bay from Coronado, I told Mitchell I loved him too. And we kissed for the first time! And it was wonderful!
As we continued pursuing courtship, asking each other hard questions where honesty was expected, we moved on to introducing each other to our families around Christmas time.
This process was not a walk in the park for us though. When you choose to seriously pursue each other, there can be a lot of unknowns but having the courage to ask what you need to and the freedom to do so, is so important! I found it especially difficult to shut up my inner critic and fears that trickled in from past heartbreaks.
We met with friends and mentors and wanted to be poured into and get advice and make sure we had accountability in our relationship. Our favorite activities were the tide pools, hammocking, watching Planet Earth reruns, and Mitchell making us delicious breakfast burritos at his apartment.
Three months later on March 10th, WE GOT ENGAGED!! Mitchell took me to one of our favorite brunch spots, Wheat & Water. Afterwards we went to a tide-pool spot nearby. He had been practicing long exposure photos of the ocean for a while so I thought nothing of it when he set up his camera.
I happily went off looking for crabs in the rocks and a little while later, I got splashed by a wave and Mitchell pulled me in for a wet hug and got down on one knee. He said some really sweet things I don’t honestly remember then or now and put the most beautiful rose gold opal ring on my finger! It has three re-cast heirloom stones from his family that far surpassed my hopes for engagement bling!
Because we knew we were headed for the altar, we had actually chosen and booked our venue a few weeks prior – a great idea if you want a short engagement! After 4 months of engagement, it was time for the big day!
We chose an afternoon wedding on Sunday, July 14th, 2019 at the La Jolla Woman’s Club. Our wedding was pretty non-traditional and yet totally us. We saved money by only serving appetizers and Baked Bear ice cream cookie sandwiches to our 120 guests. We wrote all of our own vows which are also saved in our marriage journal.
Our honeymoon was spent at an all-inclusive resort in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico. I can’t recommend highly enough taking a honeymoon right after your wedding. Even if you can only afford a road trip or stay-cation, it’s an unparalleled time to reconnect and relax after the natural stress of wedding planning.
As I write this today, we have been married for 10 months and stuck together in COVID-19 quarantine for 2.5 of those months. Nothing quite like 24/7 contact to test your marriage boundaries haha!
We still don’t plan on having children of our own but highly consider adopting someday. San Diego is still our home base where we enjoy beach trips, mountain hiking, traveling to new places, and are still watching a lot of Planet Earth documentaries.
We’re so grateful for the way that God brought us together even though it seemed so fast to a lot of people, including us. Our marriage journey is unique. Just like yours is or will be. I encourage you to own all of the pieces of it, the good, the bad, the ugly, the fights, the healing, and the reward. Marriage is so special and worth preserving. I can’t wait to share more of our marriage journey with you here on the blog!