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The Lipstick Gospel

I Thought That Finding My Husband Would Be Easy

I'm Stephanie May Wilson!

I'm an author and podcaster and my specialty is helping women navigate big decisions, life transitions — creating lives they love.

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I thought that finding my husband was going to be easy.

Not the part before it—Lord knows that the waiting and the wondering couldn’t be harder. But when your number was finally called, I thought it was supposed to be simple.

I thought that when it was my turn, kind of like the stork, he’d be dropped on my doorstep one day—no mess, no fuss, veil and rings included.

I thought he’d wander into my life with a sticky note on his forehead, “Dear Stephanie, this is your husband, Love, God.”

I thought that when I laid eyes on him, something in my heart would jump, “that’s him!” it would assure me with 100% accuracy.

I thought that when you were in a really good relationship that it’d be smooth sailing. I thought that your compatibility and love would be so great that conflict would be a thing of the past. I thought that they’d bring out the best in you to the point that all of the bad stuff would fade away forever—a distant memory of an imperfect self.

I thought he would love me so much that my insecurities would vanish and that I would be in a constant state of romantic euphoria—like being a little tipsy or swallowing sunshine or the last 12 minutes of a romantic comedy.

I thought that when I found him that I’d be ready to get married—not a doubt in my mind as I sped towards the altar, picking out flowers and bridesmaids dresses with efficiency and style.

I thought that this was how everyone felt. With marital euphoria plastered across social media, there’s no room in that Instagram to show conflict or the conversations that were had along the way.

And because I thought these things, I spent the first six months of my relationship with Carl afraid that something was broken.

I didn’t know anything when I met him—there was no man-sized basket. He didn’t have a sticky note on his forehead, and I didn’t know instantly that he’d end up being my boyfriend.

God hasn’t given me any sort of decree. He hasn’t declared anything about the future, has not labeled him in any way, he just helped me get to the right place at the right time to be in a really good relationship and is letting us work out the details.

I’m not perfect—in fact, this whole process of dating has revealed more insecurity, more messiness, and more toxic fear in my heart than I ever knew was there. The bad stuff has been brought to the surface to be picked through and discarded like ratty underwear or a neglected medicine cabinet.

Carl loves me so much, and sometimes it really does feel like I’m tipsy on sunshine. But sometimes it feels the opposite.

Sometimes I feel neglected and rejected and forgotten. And sometimes (most of the time), those feelings have absolutely nothing to do with him.

On some days I feel warm and adored—like I am quite possibly the most loved woman on the planet. I feel confident and ready, itching to step into the future I can’t wait to see. And some days I don’t. For those first six months an indefinable panic kept coming back like the cold you can’t get rid of, leaving me afraid of the future and all of the things that we didn’t yet know.

And nobody talks about this. Relationships and engagement look like the smoothest transition, accompanied by perfect hair and an award-winning photographer. One minute you’re dating and the next, you’re engaged, and someone was there to capture both perfectly-styled moments to share with Facebook friends around the world.

These are the things we love to share—good stories, the perfect date, the shine of the ring, but nobody talks about the questions that have to be answered. Nobody talks about the doubts and the hard talks. Nobody talks about the process it takes for a stranger to transform into the person who knows you best—and nobody mentions that that’s hard.

I spent six months wrestling with the reality of my doubts and questions and the fear that I felt when I held it up to the perfection of what I could see of someone else’s story.

But here’s what I know to be true about stories, now more than ever: Every story needs conflict. Perfect stories don’t change you—sticking with you long after the credits roll, making you want to buy the soundtrack. It’s the perseverance through the hard stuff that makes a story beautiful.

Conflict also breeds intimacy—without it we never get the chance to really know each other, to really love each other. I believe that true love is formed in the middle of the night, when ugly tears have replaced a calm, put-together smile.

My story didn’t begin the way I thought it would. It’s not the easy story that I thought would be waiting for me on the doorstep with a blue bow—a ready-made husband for a fully-ready bride.

We’ve asked hard questions and had even harder conversations. I’ve wrestled doubt and fear and comparison. And I’ve cried like a baby more times than I can count.

And I like this story so much better.

Because I don’t want a relationship that’s smooth and wrinkle free. I want a relationship that’s strong because of the things we’ve endured, and the love we’ve fought for in the moments when it was the hardest.

The best, most beautiful love I’ve ever experienced has come out of the hardest times. And I’m amazed by the man who continues to sit across from me, feeling more and more like home with every conflict and every victory.

How has your story unfolded differently than you thought it would? What beauty and grace have you seen in that difference? 

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  1. 🙂 I love this. And it has been an honor to walk beside you here and there. You’re beautiful woman. And you have a beautiful story.

  2. Dawn Muench says:

    Are you sure you aren’t 60? Because your wisdom is beyond your age and/but applicable across ALL ages!

  3. Lauren Haney says:

    I’ve been waiting for this post. I read every post of yours and figured something was coming! I hear you. 100% I hear you!

  4. Michellelynn says:

    this is such a beautiful and honest blog. i love your work. thank you for sharing your heart with us all.

  5. Amy Roberson says:

    I can relate to every bit of this. I did have a sort of magical beginning when I met my fiance. We were at Tybee Island and in the water and there were dolphins EVERYWHERE. Jumping over each other, swimming beside each other…my fiance’s sister and her best friend both said they’d never seen anything like it. After waiting 28 years to meet John, I chalked it up as God celebrating with me that I’d finally found the man I waited so impatiently and patiently for.

    But that was the easy part, the fun part. Everything else you’ve mentioned here, we’ve been through. One of my best friends recently told me that marriage only works if you wake up every morning and CHOOSE your spouse. There will be times where you’ll want to walk, he/she will want to walk, and you’ll both want to give up, but instead of giving up, you choose to stay through the good, bad, and ugly. And when you do that and when each of you sees that the other person isn’t going anywhere, no matter what, this is when the relationship strengthens. She’s been married to her husband for five years now, but they’ve been off and on together for over 15 years. I watched them walk away multiple times before they finally realized it was a choice, that sometimes actions must come before the feelings match up, and they are one of the strongest couples I know.

    There are two messages by Andy Stanley that are so helpful for relationships: “The New Rules of Love, Sex, and Dating” and “Staying in Love.” I highly recommend them both. The first taught me to become the right person for my future relationship (instead of just trying to find John) and the second is teaching me how to adjust and readjust my expectations in my relationship to make it last. 🙂


  6. helenajordao says:

    So true, Stephanie! There are so many hard conversations to be had and things to confront/discuss/deal with that are NOT pleasant. The Lord has a way of bringing up those issues, and what a blessing that they get dealt with this way. It’s not a glamorous topic, the working out of differences, insecurities, and uncertainties. But it’s what makes a relationship REAL 🙂 Instagram can’t capture that. Loved this blog.

  7. Emily Mitchell says:

    I love this blog! And I love you. And I love that you are discovering this and opening this topic up- it needs to be opened!

  8. Hugh Roberts says:

    I have had pretty much the same experience and everyone’s so against it when you begin to share the hard stuff that’s happening. They just don’t understand, thanks for sharing this and being honest.

  9. […] recently read a blog from a friend, Stephanie May, where she made a terrific point about relationships that then turn into engagements. No one talks […]

  10. purpleambrosia says:

    Steph! I love your blog, as always. You inspired me! Being that I’m 47 days away from my wedding, I decided to write out some of my thoughts…the “REAL” story behind engagement!! Would love your thoughts!

  11. Well-written and very true! Been married for just over two years after dating for five, and though we’ve had lots of those magical romantic moments, we’ve found those times of conflict to be far more formative to who we are and how we act and how we help each other change for the better. If you’re truly living intimately, your flaws are going to be exposed and if your significant other loves you well enough to tell you what they are and if you’re teachable enough to listen and learn, you’re well on your way to something good. It’s a terribly humbling thing.

  12. Chantell says:

    Perfect- someone’s finally writing the story the rest of the world forgot to write 🙂 I love you and I’m proud of you

  13. Sam says:

    This is beautiful!
    Hi! My name is Sam and I write on and I recently wrote a similar post about 10 things for young newly weds! The 10 things that are so small you don’t think they matter, until you realize they do.
    I absolutely enjoyed your post and I look forward to reading more posts! 🙂 🙂 🙂

  14. Susan :) says:

    “How has your story unfolded differently than you thought it would? What beauty and grace have you seen in that difference? ”

    How has it unfolded differently than I thought it would? In EVERY single part of it.
    What beauty and grace have I seen in that difference? I wish I had the time to tell you. It’s so real, so detailed, so beautiful, and so of God.

  15. Rachel says:

    Definitely resonate with this post (and many of your others–I’ve enjoyed reading your blog). I had to shift my view of what a healthy relationship may look like as well. But quickly realized when others hadn’t when I’d share a particularly hard conversation (which ended well) that I had with my boyfriend only to have a friend I shared it with question my relationship and happiness in it. I’ve definitely learned to see the tough conversations and whatnot as victories and progress rather than a negative thing or a roadblock. And I’ve begun to choose wisely who I share those moments with.

  16. L.W. says:

    This was a message sent from God to me through you. My boyfriend of over a year and I recently broke up because of my fear of where our relationship was going to take us and the doubts I had about how he felt for me. When in reality, I know exactly how he felt, and looking back I see those things clear as day. I have been afraid of the unknown. we have gone through a very hard year together, my nana who I was very close with passed away and that triggered my depression that had been getting better. he stood by me through my depression and my bipolar mood swings and then when he asked me to stand by him to follow his dreams, I got scared and started only thinking about how it would make my life difficult and the negative things that would come from it. I failed to realize, that he had stood by me and loved me through the hardest year of my life thus far and it was my turn to stand by him and I let him down.
    I’m having a really hard time dealing with this break up, so prayers and any advice you have would be appreciated!

  17. Great blog. Very open, Inspiring. Its so true that people NEVER talk about the hard stuff in relationships, they tell you it should always be rainbows and butterflies, but in my previous relationship the Lord showed me exactly what you are saying: Relationships become stronger because of the things we endured. True love conquers all. Thanks for sharing and praying extra blessings over your relationship!!

  18. Andy Traub says:

    Um, you’re a great writer. Thought about writing a book?
    I did. Made some dough and changed some lives. Found you through Suzy Marie Hachey…is she a friend?
    Keep writing.
    Bless you…

    Oh yeah, been married 8 years. Love it. It’s hard work but it’s good work if you can get it!

  19. Sydney says:

    Thank you thank you thank you! I have been struggling with this so much lately. I just hit my 20’s and I figured once I got here I’d have everything figured out, especially in the relationship department. WRONG! I have been struggling with being single for a while and this has made me feel so much better. I know that with men in my past I’ve been looking for that spark or that “aha!” moment where we fell madly in love and knew we were going to be together forever. Now I’m starting to understand that that’s not always how it works, and frankly, I don’t really want it to. There’s something so beautiful about an imperfect love.

    I’ve been reading your blog for a long time and your relationship with Carl is such a beautiful example for us single gals trying to figure it out. Thank you so much for your writing and your blog. I feel so safe reading your posts and knowing that I’m not alone in my feelings and fear. Thank you!

  20. Carrie says:

    Great post! I felt the same way about my husband. I spent the first 6 months of our relationship, wondering if I should even be dating him. I once said to him, “You know the beginning is supposed to be the best part. If our beginning is so hard, isn’t it just going to go downhill?” I couldn’t have been more wrong. The beginning was rough! We argued and fussed, but that’s how I knew, on my wedding day, that I could spend the rest of my life with him. He was a fair fighter, and we’d already worked out so many issues. The first year of marriage was even more rough. We fought plenty (and had loads of fun as well). We just didn’t seem to have the same vision for our day-to-day life (the big picture had been sorted out during dating). It’s the little things that get you in the first year of marriage, like what brand of ketchup or how to spend a Saturday. Now we’re on our third year of marriage, and it’s awesome! Those issues have been worked out, and we almost never argue. It’s finally sunshine and rainbows on this end… but you can’t get there until you work out the wrinkles.

    • ciera says:

      Love your post. I am currently in a relationship and It has been rough! I keep thinking and people keep saying isnt the beggininning suppsoe to be the best part?!? All blue skies and sunshine. Well not for us its been plenty of rain. But we have been growing. The people we are now is def not the two people who entered into this relationship two years ago. We haven broken up and got back together but we still are growing. I have never grown so much in a relationship. Thanks for your comment because it was God sent.

  21. […] “Because I don’t want a relationship that’s smooth and wrinkle free. I want a relationship that’s strong because of the things we’ve endured, and the love we’ve fought for in the moments when it was the hardest.” -I Thought Finding My Husband Would Be Easy – The Lipstick Gospel […]

  22. Destiny says:

    Reblogged this on The Unveiled Project… and commented:
    I’m a fan!

  23. Wow that was unusual. I just wrote an extremely long comment
    but after I clicked submit myy comment didn’t appear. Grrrr…
    well I’m nott writing all that over again. Anyways, just wanted to say
    wonderful blog!

  24. Shelby says:

    HI Stephanie,

    I relate to this heavily. Been with my boyfriend for 6 months and the talk of marriage is becoming more and more real. I am as certain as I can be that this is the man that God has blessed me with and he is a wonderful man of God. I struggle often with feeling neglected and forgotten (as you mentioned) and we are long distance. I also recognize most of these feelings are not due to his actions. How did you manage those insecurities? I am fearful they will not go away and I am scared to be married and deal with these issues. I also feel alone in this – not a lot of people around me are in this season. Any advice?

  25. Ilene says:

    I feel like I’m on the flip-side, up side down, and on my head. I was getting to know a great man of God and suddenly one day a guy I knew from grade school (a wonderful Christian) showed up on my college campus and I felt like like I heard God clearly say “He’s the one.” Well that totally freaked me out because I was NEVERRRRR interested in him in school. In fact people would tell me how cute of a couple we would be and it was like I was so opposed to it that a I went the extra mile to make sure my name was never connected to his. We ll here he was was visiting a mutual friend and I hadn’t seen him in probably 6 years and he looked great. It’s been 8 years since then and nothing has happened but yet my heart is not worried or paranoid or jealous. I see him or hear his name and it feels like home. I feel as though I could wait a lifetime…. these 8 years years have sailed by but… I wonder if I should be waiting for him or if I should do more. I see him occasionally but even still I’m kinda shy so I just don’t go and really talk to him in fears that he’ll think I’m clingy or aggressive or something. I believe the guy should make the first move…. but is there anything I can or should do?

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