I love Jesus and I love people. I write about what happens when dreams and reality collide. Because the best stories are the ones He writes.

Thoughts on NOT Marrying Cary Grant

Thoughts on NOT Marrying Cary Grant

For those of you who don’t know who Cary Grant is… My favorite films of his include “Bringing Up Baby”, “An Affair to Remember” or the quirky favorite, “Every Girl Should Be Married…”

For those of you who don’t know who Cary Grant is… My favorite films of his include “Bringing Up Baby”, “An Affair to Remember” or the quirky favorite, “Every Girl Should Be Married…”

Originally Posted August 6, 2012.  Updated September 2018.

I wrote this post as a gift to my husband on our wedding anniversary several years ago.  Super cool side note: This summer, I met Robin Jones Gunn, the author who wrote the “Christy Miller” series that inspired me to write letters to my future husband when I was a teenager and young adult. She was amazing and so are her books.  :)


My husband and I were married on August 6, 2004.  At the reception, my maid-of-honor and best friend from high school, stood up and gave a pretty funny speech.  ”Janell,”  she said, “When we were growing up, you were always dreaming of your Mr. Darcy, Cary Grant or Gilbert… And well, you got Brian!”  The room erupted in laughter.

I have always been a dreamer and my best friend was right that night.  I had imagined a romantic leading man-type to come and sweep me off my feet.

Sometimes dreams meet reality and there is disappointment.  But sometimes reality is actually better than the dream.


It was dark and raining.  It was coming down so hard the rain looked like it was painting on the windshield of my car. I sat there, thinking about going in and wondering what the future would hold.

I was 21 that Fall.

I took out a pen and started to write a new letter to “him.”  I had gotten the idea from a book series I had read when I was a teenager.  The main character in the books had written letters to her future husband and stored them under her bed.  Someday, her plan was to give her husband the letters and he’d know her as she was then.  Every time she wrote a letter, she also prayed.  Since the time I was a little girl, I had always been full of romantic notions.  And I (like most people) longed to truly be known.  So the concept resonated with me.  Throughout high school, into college, through heartbreaks, crushes, and fleeting relationships, I had written letters to my future husband.  At first it had felt silly.  But over the years it became comforting and familiar.  It felt like an act of faith to write to someone I couldn’t be sure existed.  But it became much like any journaling, and I found myself instinctively reaching for a pen and paper when I wanted to share something new or exciting with someone I hoped one day would truly care.

So on that evening, I wrote a short note about being in that car, waiting for the graduate school orientation to start, wondering when I would meet the recipient of my letters.

Then I got out of my car, walked into the hall and saw him for the first time.  Brian Wood.  He was wearing a black leather jacket and sporting a comb over.

He was not Mr. Darcy.  Not Gilbert.  And definitely not Cary Grant.

Instead, he was himself.  Generous.  Goofy.  Intelligent.  Kind.  Patient.  Good-hearted.  Tender.  Humble but confident.  He didn’t care about the judgment of others.  He loved kids and had a heart for teaching.  He was easy-going.  He loved the Lord.

He was everything I had never known I needed.

There were no trumpets sounding or romantic music serenading us.  And I had no idea Brian would be the man I married.

It took me six months before I even saw him as a potential love interest.  Then after six months of dating, he proposed on Thanksgiving.

We’ve been married 8 years today.  For a wedding gift, I gave him a scrapbook full of all those letters I had written and mementos from our relationship. But those letters and mementos were just a start.

When you marry someone, you don’t have any idea what the years will give you.

In the beginning years of our marriage, we’d take lots of little overnight getaways.  We enjoyed luxury hotels and fancy dinners.  We had a little town home that was perfect for us.  We got a dog on a whim and decided she’d be our baby for awhile.  I got my dream job.  We bought a larger house because we could and we wanted a family.  We bought and sold cars.  We got another dog to keep the first dog company.  We lost pregnancies. I started my own business.  We vacationed in Europe.  We invested in trying to have a family.   When our son finally arrived, we forgot about the pain it took to get there.  We learned why people say “it goes so fast.”  I quit my dream job.  We learned what real sleep deprivation is like.  We lost some of our grandparents.  We lost more pregnancies.  We had another baby.  We had to downsize.

But what’s mattered most isn’t what’s happened to us- how many things we’ve had or lost.  How many trips we could take or not.  Not even what type of home we’ve lived in.  What we’ve found mattered most was that we were in this together- for better or worse.  No going back.  If times got tough, we held onto each other and prayed for strength.  It hasn’t always been easy.  We’ve learned how important being grateful is, because circumstances come and go, years pass by quickly, in the end, you live your life.  And we’re living it together. (For a great message on marriage that really inspired us, click here.  It’s the message from July 1st, 2012).

Today, we woke up- our eyes glazed over from a rough night.  The room was hot and our 9 month-old daughter was up every couple of hours from 11pm on.  Our 3 year-old son was up and ready to go at 5:30 this morning.  We barely had time to wish each other a “Happy Anniversary” as we rushed around trying to brush teeth, change diapers, and Brian headed out the door.  Hopefully we’ll have a little date tonight thanks to my folks and a Christmas gift certificate we’re finally redeeming.  Maybe I’ll even be romantic and try to write him a letter.  Or just read him my blog.

Someday, my children will grow up and hopefully fall in love.  I hope at least one is a dreamer like their mother, because dreams are great things. But I also hope they don’t forsake a beautiful reality for those dreams.

Marrying Brian was one of the best decisions I ever made.  These 8 years have been the best of my life.   I wouldn’t trade them for anything. I am thankful he gave up the comb-over.  

I’m also thankful God gave me Brian Wood and not Cary Grant.

Brian Wood.jpg

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