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When Fairytales Turn Into Fights

Updated: Jun 10, 2019

by Jesse Unk

Growing up I only ever wanted one thing; a simple life with a beautiful woman to love, and children to raise and spend time with. My sister met my brother-in-law in high school, and I grew up idolizing their relationship. I saw how well they treated each other, and her boyfriend became one of my closest friends even though he was eight years older than me. He took me under his wing, taught me how to play sports and video games, and showed me love and acceptance in ways he didn’t have to. He easily could have dated my sister and kept to himself but instead, he welcomed me to come to his apartment with him to play Halo and eat Rice-a-Roni whenever we could. He eventually married my sister when they were just out of high school and continue their marriage today with three beautiful children. It was because of this fairytale-like relationship that I always thought I would get married the same exact way.

Photo courtesy: Jesse Unk

I would only pursue girls if I felt they had potential to be married, and once I made that decision I was hooked. I spent years with wrong girlfriend after wrong girlfriend; the first hating my family and friends because they took time from her, the second cheating on me after I chased her for two years prior, and so on and so forth. The issues came up time after time. Luckily for me, I never made the same mistakes twice. I never dated someone who didn’t enjoy time with my family. If a girl was secretive and hid things from me, I ended it. I was always in search of the one and I made an effort to better myself and learn from my mistakes and bad relationships. Unfortunately, years passed with no luck of love. Depression and loneliness set in and I began to set down a path that I had never delved into.

My faith during my college years was up and down. While I had strong faith that there was a God and I even knew the truth of who he was, my depression turned to anger and I openly and actively walked away from Him. I would start praying and end up shouting out against him, desperate for some form of affection that I began to blame God for not having. I didn’t understand why it just wasn’t happening, and to make matters worse, my brother-in-law, who was my mentor and best friend, had moved a state away for a new job as a youth pastor in his hometown. I figured if I didn’t have a support system available to me, and God wasn’t answering my prayers, then screw it. I was gonna drown my sorrows with women who couldn’t hurt me.

So started a few years of hookups and flings. I would make it clear from the get go that I wasn’t interested in a relationship, so I felt that I was justified. After all, I wasn’t hurting anyone and if they got emotionally attached, well, they had been warned from the start. I would brag to my friends, many of which were in long term relationships or already married, and for the most part they seemed happy that I was doing better and encouraged what was happening. Some even came off envious of my new bachelor lifestyle. Despite how this sounds, I didn’t sleep around as much as you’d think. I enjoyed the adrenaline of a new date and potential of romance with no danger of heartbreak. There were a few hookups here and there, but it wasn’t my goal, even though I presented it as such to my buddies. Deep down I still wanted that love, I was just too terrified to reach out with any of these nice girls to try it. I was terrified until one fateful day when an old high school friend popped up online and sparks reignited.

I invited Stephanie over to my house on her birthday. I was grilling out and she had no plans and was feeling lonely...perfect. Years before we had spent a summer together with a group of friends. It was flirtatious and dramatic, but one of the best summers of my life. She had fallen for my best friend at the time, but he was torn between her and another girl. He chose the other girl, despite having ongoing feelings for Steph through the years. That decision, and his failure to ever truly get over Steph, led to the group breaking up and aside from a few Facebook comments over the years, Steph and I never talked again. It didn’t help that just before that happened I had used my brother’s moving away as a ploy to seem sad and vulnerable so she would make out with me. She still brings that up today.

When she came over it was immediately different than the other girls. She was stunning and I had no intentions of anything honorable, but she began the night by telling me how proud she was of me. She told me she remembered me telling her I wanted to be a teacher one day and the fact I had done that was amazing to her! We ate dinner, we talked for hours, and laughed. We cuddled up watching Scream, and ended the night by making out. Yet, I knew this was different. She was intelligent, funny, attractive, and engaging. I had not felt this feeling in YEARS. There was one problem though, my friend’s wife hated her. Years of jealousy was sure to cause problems if I mentioned I wanted to pursue something with this girl, so I did what any person with a backbone would do...I totally hid my relationship from them.

The weeks went by and nothing had changed. Steph continued to blow my mind. She cared about family, she talked about goals and aspirations, she consistently was aware of my feelings and made sure to put them first. She was the most selfless, caring, and joyful person I had ever encountered. It came to a point where I had to tell my friends. I didn’t care how they’d react; I knew they’d get over it. We had been friends for over a decade, how could they not forgive me and move past their anger if it meant their friend would be truly happy? Spoiler alert...they didn’t.

I attended my friend’s wedding as his best man a few weeks after my secret relationship began. I finally told them what was going on. I told them how happy I was, how Steph made me feel amazing, and how despite their certain anger I needed them to know that this girl made me happy and I hoped we could work something out. I received no response. I was blocked from Facebook. My calls weren’t returned. Years upon years of friendship were seemingly wiped away because of a decision for my own happiness. I couldn’t believe it. I fell back into my former depression, and it showed.

Weeks later Steph came to me with tears in her eyes. She told me she loved me so much, and cared so much for my happiness that she would walk away now so I could have my lifelong friends back. She wanted me to be happy, even if it meant her own sadness. It was at this point in time that I was faced with the biggest decision of my life; do I lose the girl who would put herself through agony in return for my happiness, or do I lose the people who I had called my closest friends for years?

There was no decision to be made. I was going to pursue the girl who I had seemingly been searching for my entire life. It’s been two years since I made that choice. I married Steph on August 3rd, 2018 and we’ve been living happily ever since. My old friendships are still rocky, some being slightly mended, while others are nonexistent. I spent my time trying to make amends and explain how things could work, but it fell on deaf ears. Stephanie still tells me she’s proud of me. She still embraces me everyday and laughs with me until we ache. Our families have embraced each other and we hope to start a family of our own one day. I often think back to that decision and the struggles and pain that came with it, but I never doubt that I made the right choice and know I would make the same choice again if I could go back. I lost friends that I thought had my best interests at heart, but they put their hatred for another before their love for their friend. I gained a wife that I know I will spend the rest of my life with. We’ve grown together in love, in faith, and in friendship.

It wasn’t an easy decision to gamble on a relationship that might not work out, knowing I’d be letting lifelong relationships walk out the door for a relationship that had just started. But, the courage to make that decision led to the greatest happiness I’ve ever known. My wife’s joy, wonder, and kind spirit has picked me up out of a life of depression. I grew up thinking the world owed me a fairytale love story; instead, it gave me a fight. With Steph in my corner, and God and my past experiences coaching me along the way...I won.

Photo courtesy: Jesse Unk

**Jesse Unk is a 27 year old high school English teacher. He teaches in an alternative education setting, being that most of his students have been removed from their original schools for behavioral issues. He mentors, teaches, and tries to be a positive influence in the lives of kids who otherwise don’t have much experience in positive circumstances. Jesse is a die-hard Cleveland Browns fan, as well as all other Cleveland sports teams and the Ohio State Buckeyes. When he isn’t teaching or watching sports he enjoys going to the movies and cooking! He also writes for a blog where he shares various recipes, sports takes, and other opinions on things he finds to be important. Above all else, Jesse loves to spend time with his beautiful wife Stephanie. The two of them are happily married and spend time together each and every day watching their shows and experiencing new things throughout northeast Ohio.