Things That Bind: The Marriage

The Betrothal

I became a member of Marble a few days before my 18th birthday when I was betrothed to David Glanville on June 6, 1995, shortly before my homeschool-high school graduation party. My “betrothal” was sanctioned by my parents, his parents, and the leaders at Marble before I was aware that there was a proposal coming. Of course I said yes.

I was not quite 18 and college, according to my dad was “no place for young ladies.” David was the most sophisticated, worldly and formally educated of all my teenage crushes. In truth, earlier in 1995, I had been grounded for writing letters to another boy I liked, a redneck who lived in Oregon and whom I had denied a kiss the summer before at a church camp. I had kissed one boy before I became betrothed, shortly after my 17th birthday, in the parking lot of the Subway in Colville where I worked.

I know my parents were concerned about my “boy-craziness” and how to best direct me toward a righteous pathway. If you asked them later, they would contend that I was enough of a free spirit that if I had not been allowed to marry David (remember, again, I had no idea he was proposing) they feared I would run away and elope with him anyway. Maybe they gave their blessing out of resignation, or from my perspective, a sense of relief in passing the baton of spiritual authority and responsibility for such a flight risk to a husband.

Hindsight is 20/20. Or in this case probably not that clear, but I want my readers to know that my parents did what they thought was best in raising me, and I love them for that. It is important to understand that in their quest, my parents took unconventional pathways that led us to where we are now but I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the choices they made were done in love, if slightly misled, and their hope was always for my happiness and holiness. I have never, for one second, believed that they had anything but my spiritual well being and success in mind. They believed, as I did then, that all of my dreams were coming true.

David and I had been confronted (Matthew 18-ed) by a leader in the church for what she perceived to be us spending too much time together. We had been co-directing a production of Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" at Marble, which was a ploy I had come up with to spend more time there and with him after taking an English class with several other homeschool students at the church. The English teacher, Angela Black, also a member of core group, felt that David and I were spending too much time together and called in my parents and other church leaders to address the issue.

I was deeply mortified to be in trouble at Marble before I was even a full-fledged member. In the middle of the meeting, which involved most of core group after a Sunday church service in early June, David jumped out of his chair and asked if he could speak to my dad. He and dad walked around the side of the building and came back after a few minutes, when my dad addressed the group and indicated that the issue would be dealt with in the "family government sphere" and the meeting was over. Unbeknownst to me, David had asked my dad if he could court me.

Mom, Dad and David had lunch at Rancho Chico in Colville the next day, where my dad told David that if he was truly hearing from the lord about me as a potential bride, he didn't see the need for courtship since I was already in love and the most logical step, in my parents' minds, was betrothal, which Dad felt was a less "worldly" term than engagement.

From my perspective the leaders at Marble were supportive of the union between David and myself. The Byrds had long been trying to get my parents to buy into Marble on a deeper level and my marriage offered that connection. My whole family began attending church regularly and my parents bought property and began construction on a house not long after I was married. David’s family had been at Marble for a few years before he came along to join them, only after failing out of college in one semester and spending some time back east training horses on a ranch.

He finally made his way to Marble in the winter of ‘94, where his four younger siblings and parents were. He lived in the dingy basement of the old house they had purchased, along with his twin brothers who are five years younger than he was (and the same age as me), younger sister Anne and the baby of the family, Peter, who was a couple years younger than I was.

David’s college experience (as minimal as it was) seemed exotic and worldly to me. He had been an English Lit major, and even though his grades ruled out a return after one semester, he was the first person I knew who had actually gone to college. I met him briefly at a conference about “Restoring American’s Biblical Foundations” put on by a pastor named Paul Jehle in Boise with several other youth from Marble and a few of my own homeschooling associates.

I was instantly enamored with David. He was five years older than I was and the coolest thing I had ever seen. His wavy blonde hair and knee high combat boots were complemented by a ratty, fatigue green ensemble which gave him a Kurt-Cobain-meets-Fidel-Castro sort of appeal, if I even knew who those people were back then. He was undeniably handsome and an unmistakable renegade in our prudish circle of denim skirts and crisp button downs with only one allowable buttonhole freed. I was crushing hard. For all of my goody-two-shoesness, I had a thing for the rebel without a cause. I had a map hanging over my top bunk in the room I shared with my younger sister Emily. I had a thumb tack placed in the state of Virginia, where I knew he was training horses. Every night I would pray that he would come back and notice me. Eventually he did.

The Fall

Shortly into our betrothal period, David began to tell me that he would not be able to wait until we were married to be physically involved. He didn’t think he could control himself and told me he shouldn’t be around me or we would both be in trouble. During one conversation (as I repented to him for the one kiss I had outside of our sacred relationship) he admitted to me that he was “not as pure as he should be.” I took this to mean several kisses, maybe even copping a feel or two. I quickly forgave him and insisted that we were both sinners but all was forgotten. Later, I would learn our perspective on purity was vastly different.

I lost my virginity to David a few weeks before our wedding in his filthy basement room after we had rationalized together that betrothal, in the biblical sense, was the same as marriage, as Joseph and Mary were betrothed and they lived together. That term gave us all the room we needed to fail. As an interesting side note, when I researched betrothal later, I learned that what distinguishes it from engagement is the cultural assumption that it’s an arrangement made without knowledge or consent of one of the parties, usually when one of them is still a child, by the families. Our physical relationship was at once non-stop, aggressive, and became all consuming leading up to the wedding. All of this I attributed to a passionate love, but as I would learn over time, David’s passion rarely extended beyond a compelling urge for physical gratification and rage-filled outbursts.

The Wedding

I was married October 7th of that year. The plan for a year-long betrothal dissolved as David and I pushed against the standards my dad had set for consistent employment and a place to live. At the time, those things seemed like small problems to solve, and in my naive mind, we had more than enough love to fix them. David, who had some background as a professional horse trainer, was waiting for a fall job grafting trees for a local nursery. I had been working at Barman’s lunch counter in Colville, along with some house cleaning and other side jobs. David worked a deal with a property owner to deconstruct and move a small log cabin for us to live in. The deal ultimately fell apart but the plan was enough to get the stamp of approval to move ahead with the wedding.

The wedding was an odd outdoor affair in early October with leaves on the ground and two bonfires to light the ceremony. I wore the satin dress that my grandmother wore in her wedding in the late 1940s. David’s dad, Paul, played his trumpet to announce the arrival of the bridegroom. I was escorted by a “cloud of virgins” to the wedding canopy, representing spiritual authority and covering, held by our brothers and one of my closest (obviously male) friends. A bit of Jewish tradition sprinkled in throughout the ceremony paid homage to David’s eccentricity, the importance of symbolism in the community, and my naive intrigue with anything exciting and new.

On our wedding night, I tasted wine for the first time when David and I took wedding communion. I hated it. The wedding reception would later cause a major scandal and a series of community meetings at Marble which I would miss while on my month-and-a-half long honeymoon. I was obsessed with the movie “Swingkids” in the mid 90s and all of my dorky homeschooling friends loved pretending to know how to swing dance. So of course my reception playlist included several swing hits. We all threw off our shoes and went wild. My grandmother even demonstrated some of the spins and rolls that she remembered from the actual era.

It was one of the best memories of the wedding. Perhaps even of the marriage. But later Anne Byrd would call the young people at Marble into accounting for the disorderly and chaotic dancing. Apparently line dancing and some country swing were allowable, but this type of anarchy was a disgrace. Hearing about the meetings was my first exposure to the type of subjective tyranny that I would find everywhere at Marble, and I was shocked.

When I got home I repented for my involvement in the chaos and leading others astray. This type of taste-based judgement was commonplace with Anne. During one meeting I remember her publicly declaring Hawaiian shirts to be effeminate, completely disgusting, and saying that any male who would wear one probably needed to examine his perspective of his role as a man in the Kingdom of God. This incident stands out to me particularly because it’s the first time I heard another leader challenge Anne. Vicki Johnson told Anne that growing up in California, all the manliest studs wore Hawaiian shirts, and it was completely a matter of subjective opinion. Anne was shocked, both with Vicki’s public challenge and her (clearly deviant) taste.

My parents had given me a 1972 Volvo that I had seen in someone’s backyard and fallen in love with for my graduation present that summer. The dark blue paint had oxidized to purple and it didn’t run. Before it was fixed, I bought paint and painted flowers all over the sides and named it “Grimace.” We got it running (barely) and planned a honeymoon road trip all the way from Marble to Wisconsin to stay at a lake cabin that belonged to David’s aunt and uncle after a few days on the Oregon Coast, where all of my best childhood vacation memories had taken place.

Some of my best friends had snuck out of the reception to decorate Grimace for our departure, using spray bottles of whipping cream to write epithets on the windshield, and every other surface. Melting whipped cream was dripping from the car when we clambered in with me still clumsily lumbering around in my grandmother’s antique satin wedding gown. We drove toward Chewelah where David’s mom, Donna, had booked us a night at a bed and breakfast well off the beaten path. The melting fat on the windshield was smeared like frosting by the crusty old windshield wipers. It turns out that windshield wiper fluid wasn’t a thing in 1972.

A mile from the church, David had to pull off to the side of Highway 25 and use the only liquid in the car (the remainder of our communion wine) to clean off the windshield. Following tradition, a few cars of well-wishers were behind us, honking and waving and shooing us on our way. One of them pulled up alongside to make sure that we weren’t having any serious issues. Before they could even offer help, the innocent family friends of my parents stopped and rolled down their window and were introduced to David’s short temper. I sat mortified in the front seat.

“Go back to hell where you came from,” he screamed in frustration at them. I sank down into my seat and fought back tears as I watched them huffily roll up their window and take off. 40 minutes later, we coasted into a gas station in Colville where Grimace’s battery died. David was forced to ask for help from the only other vehicle there, which happened to be the nice family he blew up at. He offered some form of apology, which in David’s repertoire always includes a justification, and they gave us a reluctant jump-start while I cried.

I wish I could say there was a happy moment on our honeymoon. That first moment set off a chain of events that went from bad to worse, and I had my first encounter with David’s potential for violence soon after we got to the Oregon Coast. All of my childhood memories on those beaches began to fade as they were replaced with the seared images of pain and confusion that I was faced with for nearly a week there. David’s demand for sex was non-stop. I wasn’t feeling well, and I was in pain. Once, when I asked him to stop because something was hurting me, he punched the pillow right next to my head and shouted at me that I was his wife and I was not allowed to defraud him. I rarely tried to stop him after that. I was devastated.

We went on to Wisconsin, and the most poignant memory I have of the trip is the sense of abject misery. I was sick. I was battling a terrible yeast infection, and bladder infection, and who knows what else. With no way to see a doctor, we called David’s dad (a medical doctor) who recommended some yogurt. I was so exhausted and completely disillusioned. My laid back, knight-in-shining-armor now seemed like a nightmare to me. Shortly after we got to Wisconsin, I was in bad enough shape that his uncle, who was a pharmacist, suggested I take a pregnancy test. I scoffed. There was no way. We hadn’t even been trying to get pregnant. How ignorant I must have seemed to those nice people. How naive. How broken.

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