If someone told me when I was nineteen that I would be married to Dalton Sala in four years’ time, I would have laughed.
We couldn’t be more different. In college, I tried to surround myself with friends as often as I could, while he kept to himself. I was Catholic. He was not. And to top it off, he was roommates with my then-boyfriend and himself dating a good friend of mine.
Then, my junior year of college, a few things happened at once. One day we wound up newly single and in a coffee shop at the same time. After a long conversation, a dinner, and a few weeks of back-and-forth, I realized that I had misjudged Dalton. Here was a man of great depth and intensity. He understood me better than anyone else, and when we were together, I felt like a more interesting person. And we had much more in common than my nineteen-year-old self would have guessed.
So what brought us together? In large part it was the timing. Had we not both been vulnerable and searching for a new person to connect to, we may never have taken the time to get to know each other. Shared interests also played a role: we were both Latin students in school. We read together. He helped me translate Vergil’s Eclogues. That was our shared project for the earliest stage of our relationship.
We coasted easily through our first few months together, but our relationship had yet to be tested. I believe that a couple needs a common project, something to work on together, to continue moving forward. When we were students, our projects were Latin and literature. Then, our senior year, it was the nationwide lockdown. We shifted from reading Latin to reading the news from the isolation of our homes, hundreds of miles apart. Our project became more abstract: we worked to develop a philosophy of our own to guide us through an inverted world. To try to speak reality to one another when we couldn’t hear it anywhere else; to maintain our beliefs across the distance, above the roar of opinionated voices in the media.
A year slipped by. We moved to Colorado after college and realized that what we had could last. Gradually, we began to more seriously discuss spending our lives together.
Until recently, two obstacles stood between us and marriage. One was faith. I knew that I needed a Catholic man because I succumb easily to peer pressure. I hoped to marry a man who would help me stay accountable to my faith lest it erode over time. After considerable reflection and the grace of God, Dalton joined RCIA. Last Saturday at the Easter Vigil I had the tremendous blessing of sponsoring my fiancé as he was received into full communion with the Catholic Church.
The second obstacle was more ill-defined and difficult to overcome. For almost a year, a foggy sense of doubt overshadowed my perception of our relationship. Unwelcome questions floated through my mind. Was I marrying the right man? What if we grew bitter over time? What if we came to hate each other? Was love really keeping us together? Or was it fear, fear of being alone again, that prevented me from walking away?
Silencing these voices has been a journey for me. This past January, months before our wedding, doubt gripped me so tightly that I almost broke things off for good. I was a sentence away.
I couldn’t think myself out of this one. I was backed into a corner and moving forward required a different approach than the process that had trapped me there. I did not need to think. I needed to listen.
And it was in the listening, in the silence of the void, that He spoke to me. And one night in late January I knew my heart. I called Dalton the next day. Then I called my dad. This was the man I was going to marry: “and yes I said yes I will Yes.”1
I would be lying if I said that since that night I have never doubted parts of our relationship. But since then, my attitude has changed. Doubts, I have learned, are not weaknesses to be hidden from sight. They should not be concealed and overcome in secrecy, but brought to light, discussed, and defeated. This strengthens us. And Dalton has borne my doubts, every one of them, gently and patiently.
Earlier I said that a couple needs a project to make it long-term. Ours? Working through every doubt together, one by one. How small they all seem when spoken. They shrivel to nothingness before the massive good of our relationship.
And if our relationship has this power to vaporize my doubts on its own, imagine the strength it has when we remember that our love for each other is overshadowed by God’s love for us. Flawed as we are, He loves this couple, and every day draws us closer to Himself. “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”2
And so today. One month until the wedding and counting. About the future, I know one thing. It will be joyful, but also painful in ways I haven’t yet imagined. But through that pain, triumph: in our love, under His.
1 James Joyce, Ulysses
2 John 11:40, NIV