Jessica and Jacob have been married for five years and currently live in Houston, TX but will be making their way back to Virginia Beach, VA in June. Jacob is a full-time teacher and student. Jessica is a psychologist, sex educator, and sex therapist. She has a passion for seeing marriages thrive and for couples to understand God’s design for healthy sexuality. Find her online at www.drmccleese.com or like her on Facebook.
How did you first meet?
Depends on who you ask 😉
Jacob says that I stalked him and I say that he sent a crippled man to keep me where I was until he could talk to me. There is slightly more truth in my version. In actuality, I had met Jacob’s dad before I met Jacob. I had interviewed him for a class that I was taking and was really impressed with the high level of integrity he had. I admit, I had hoped he had a son I could date, but I really did NOT stalk my husband. But, the first time Jacob and I hung out it seemed like I knew every important person in his life.
We first actually met one Sunday at church. I was pretty new to the church and trying to find a life group so I was talking to one of the leaders that I thought could point me in the right direction. Jacob’s friend, Joel (who was on crutches at the time) hobbled over to me and told me about a life group that his friend (yup – Jacob) led and invited me to come to it. Jacob came up after that and talked to me, but definitely admits he had Joel over there keeping me talking so that he could finish what he was doing and come meet me.
What was your first date? What encouraged you to keep dating?
Our first date was pretty long. We went to a seafood buffet that was way too expensive for a first date, but being our first neither one of us admitted that. From there we went to get salt water taffy (I had never had this and Jacob wanted to introduce me to it), went to a coffee shop to see a friend of his that was in town, and then went to IHOP for coffee with some friends. We talked a LOT and really left the evening knowing quite a bit about each other. There was definitely an attraction there, but I was a little relationship-scared at the time. I actually knew for sure I wanted to keep dating after our second date when I walked out of the restaurant we had met at and there was a rose from him on my car. So sweet!
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome as a couple and how has that shaped your marriage? How would you advise another couple facing a similar thing?
Hmmmm….the biggest challenge? Our actual biggest challenge is probably dealing with getting our finances together and figuring out how to budget well as a married couple. But, probably more meaningful for others is the challenge we had early on (I mean before marriage even) dealing with people (including relatives) and their comments about our choosing to marry outside of our own race. We both heard plenty of talk about this. This wasn’t a challenge that almost caused a break-up or any other problems between us, but it did teach us early on in our relationship history that if we were serious about each other then we really had to “forsake all others.” I would encourage couples who know that they want to get married to make sure that they pray about it and really examine the relationship they are in. Sometimes outside voices of concern are accurate, but only you and your spouse will live with the consequences (positive and negative) of your relationship choices. That being the case, if you love this person and want to be one, don’t let other people’s concerns scare you out of a good relationship.
What are some of the best marriage resources you have come across?
There are SO many great resources available for marriages. I’ll list just a few of the ones that I often recommend to people. For general marriage tips, I really like Cloud and Townsend’s “Boundaries in Marriage” book and Shaunti and Jeff Feldhahn’s books, “For Men Only” and “For Women Only.” For books dealing specifically with sexual intimacy, I like Dr. Doug Rosenau’s “A Celebration of Sex” and Dr. William Cutrer and Sandra Glahn’s book, “Sexual Intimacy in Marriage.”
Tell us about an “Aha!” moment that you have had in your marriage and how that has helped you become a better spouse.
One of my biggest “Aha” moments actually came with the loss of a friendship. I had a girlfriend that I hung out with pretty frequently and we really did have a lot in common and had a lot of fun together. But, an issue came up in our friendship one day and I began to realize the negative influence she was having on my relationship with Jacob. I noticed how mean and demanding I could be of him after she and I would spend a lot of time together. After she and I were no longer friends, it only took about a week for me to see an incredibly positive change in my marriage. Now, I can fully understand how important it is for couples to surround themselves with people that are in support of their marriage and want the best for them. Even if they never say it out loud, negativity in close friends (especially negativity about relationships) can seep into your way of thinking and behaving with your own spouse. Guard your marriage!
What are some of the practices in your daily life that best reflect your commitment to each other?
Every morning we spend some time talking about whatever is on our mind. We always kiss in the mornings before we leave for our days and when we come back home. We review our days with one another (even when we’re both tired). We send little texts to one another and post sappy little comments to one another on Facebook. We each have a picture in our workspace, and no matter which one of us you talk to, you can bet you’ll hear the other mentioned if the conversation goes on for long.
What is one of the most inspiring or rewarding experiences you have ever had together?
I think just being a team has been the rewarding experience in our marriage. During our entire five years of marriage at least one of us has been a full-time student and that will continue to be the trend for a few more years. We’ve had some big transitions with moving from VA to TX and will soon have another moving back to VA. Our move to TX was a difficult one, so we have felt a lot of transition in our marriage and quite a few times we’ve felt pressed thin with a number of responsibilities outside of marriage. But, through all of our life frustrations and transitions, we always take time to say, “There is no one else I’d rather be doing this with.”
What would you do for a last minute date night together?
Our go-to date is dinner and a movie. We enjoy our movie nights. But, we’ve talked recently about how nice it is to go to a bookstore (leave all money at home so we don’t give in to our addiction) and sit and read together. A good cup of Joe makes it even better. We enjoy talking about our books or occasionally interrupting one another to read a quote out loud or share some new insight. Yeah…we’re nerds.
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