Freshman Year of College, Emily Told Me She Didn’t Want to Be My Valentine. We’ve Spent Every Valentine’s Day Together Since.


Emily is the kind of girl you always dream of. I’m from a small town outside of Birmingham, Alabama, so it made sense for me to go to the University of Alabama, but I know God had a special plan in mind when he brought Emily there from Houston, Texas. We met as freshman through a mutual friend a few weeks into school. From the moment I saw her, my life changed instantly- and although Emily won’t admit it, she’s had me wrapped around her finger ever since.

We were inseparable and committed to each other all throughout undergrad, and I knew all along she was the one. After graduation, we began to put together a plan for our future. Originally we intended to move to Houston together – not just because Emily is from there, but also because we felt there were a lot more opportunities there for young adults. But that plan changed after Emily got accepted into a prestigious Master’s program in Alabama. It was an opportunity she couldn’t turn down, nor would I have wanted her to. We briefly considered the possibility of me staying in Alabama until she graduated, but I was worried if I started pursuing my career there, I would never leave. So we agreed it was best that I get a head start in Houston and Emily would meet me there a year later when she finished her Master’s program.

We went from spending every day together for 4 years, to being in a long-distance relationship (while living in each other’s home states). If that’s not crazy enough, I also ended up moving in with Emily’s parents. When they learned I was moving to Houston, they insisted I stay with them while I got acclimated to the change – and as a recent college grad, it was an offer I couldn’t refuse. Not to mention, anyone who knows Emily’s parents will tell you they’re two of the most incredible people on this planet. To give you an example, after Hurricane Katrina, they housed 3 victims who lost their homes due to the tragedy. That’s just the kind of people they are.  They’re always looking to help others in any way they can.

That year apart was the toughest challenge Emily and I had ever endured in our relationship. When you go from seeing each other every day to being long-distance, the entire landscape of your relationship changes. Long-distance relationships take trust, communication, and sacrifice.  Most importantly, you have to remember the goal every day – a 12 month sacrifice in exchange for a lifetime of happiness sounded like a good deal to us. It was also an extremely rewarding experience in many ways. Seeing Emily grow and accomplish her goals, even from 1500 miles away, only reaffirmed how I felt about her.

During my final trip to visit Emily, we had a lot to celebrate.  She finished her internship on that Friday and the following Saturday was her graduation and birthday. Her graduation also marked the end of our long-distance relationship, and little did she know, the day of our engagement.

I told Emily I was taking her to a nice dinner that night.  As we were walking along the canal on our way to the restaurant, I stopped, turned to Emily, and got down on one knee. She immediately burst into tears. Then, in so many words, I told her she’s the most beautiful person I’ll ever know and how I wanted to spend all of her birthdays together for the rest of our lives. Hearing her say, “yes” was the happiest moment of my life.

We’ve endured so much to be together. Marrying Emily was a dream I’ve had since I was 18 years old and it finally came true on February 3rd, 2018. I can’t imagine a life without her, and thankfully, now I won’t ever have to.

Keep Shooting.

Photo Credit: EL Photography