What happens when you meet your soulmate in high school, and date 8 years before tying the knot? Is it possible to extend Happily Ever After past high school? Meet the Leaks (Shannon and Justin Leak).
Interview by A.J. Niles
Urban Belle: How did you meet your spouse?
The Leaks: We met in high school and started dating the summer before our senior year.
How long did you date before you got married?
The Leaks: We dated for nine years before getting married (8 years before getting engaged).
How long have you been married?
The Leaks: We’ve been married 9 months.
How did you prepare for marriage? Did you seek counseling or did you turn to a pastor for guidance?
The Leaks: We definitely studied our parents and their approach to marriage, as well as listened to their advice regarding our personal development as individuals and as a couple.
What is your favorite thing about your spouse?
The Leaks: He calls me out. He doesn’t pull any punches with me – he is brutally honest. But it makes me continue to grow as a woman and a wife. And it’s not a one-way street – he expects me to do the same. In general, we complement each other – where I am weak, he is strong and vice-versa. Sometimes, that can cause some tension between us but at the end of the day, we know we are partners in this together.
Why did you decide to get married?
The Leaks: I realized that there was no other person I wanted to commit myself to – I was his wife long before I had a ring. He became the one person I could be completely open and honest with about EVERYTHING. And no matter what happened, there was not a single doubt in my mind that he’d be willing to lay down his life for me and I the same.
What obstacles did you and your spouse encounter in your marriage? How did you overcome those obstacles?
The Leaks: It sounds cliché, but we really had to work on our communication when we moved in together. Living together was fine, but since we hadn’t been living with our parents for a while, we weren’t used to letting another person know where we were and when we were coming home. We weren’t keeping tabs on each other because we didn’t trust each other but we’d both get really worried if we hadn’t heard from the other person, i.e. thinking the other was lying hurt in a ditch somewhere. Since we both experienced this, the solution was as simple as remembering to put ourselves in the other person’s shoes and send a text if we were going to be getting home later than usual.
What’s something about being married you wish you knew while you were single?
The Leaks: Just because you are married, you – both men and women – need to be regularly reminded that you are loved, appreciated and desired. It’s easy to fall into the trap of “Well, you know I love you.”
What advice would you give single people who want to get married?
The Leaks: What should they look for in a spouse? If you desire to get married at some point in your life, then don’t waste your time on people who are not marriage material – even from a young age. I know that can sound strict but your time is very valuable, so don’t spend precious moments with people who aren’t helping you get closer to your goal of finding the partner with whom you’d want to walk through life. Of course, don’t go looking to get engaged on the first date, but be clear to yourself and others about what you are looking for in a relationship (and life in general) – and don’t be afraid to move on to the next if expectations are not met. For every person and couple, those expectations will be different but don’t settle – there is a huge difference between compromising and settling.
Another piece of advice; Never underestimate the value of alone-time. We love each other very much and love spending time together but we also enjoy time alone or time with our friends. We don’t stress each other when we are apart because we have a very deep level of trust. We understand that as individuals, we need time away from the other to recharge and it also gives us a chance to miss each other or remind us why we like spending time together. Just because your spouse is your other half, you never want to lose yourself in them and/or the relationship.