When people ask me how I met my husband, I usually think about what version I will share with them. If I know them personally, then I might give them more details and if they’re people I’ve just met, then I will be a bit more brief. Granted I have written a book about our story and soon many will know more about us than ever before.

You see I married a dad when I was 20 years old and many assume I married a man who is my dad’s age. They’re wrong; for I married a man closer to my age, but when I met him, he was already a dad.

The longer version starts with 17-year-old girl (me) who went out dancing with her friends in Germany. It was a warm Friday night in July. Later in the evening as I was taking a break sitting at a picnic table and bench in the courtyard, a young man and his friends approached and asked if they could share the space.

I was nervous and excited at the same time, but gestured, “Yes, sure, sit down!” and so they did. After eavesdropping for a while, I mustered up the courage to ask where they were from and one young man answered, “America.” I followed up asking what they were doing in Germany and another guy told me they were soldiers going to war in Bosnia, but their plane needed maintenance, so they were stuck for a few days and decided to go out and explore.

The night and the conversation went on, but only one of the guys was genuinely kind. We didn’t talk much, but he told me that he left behind a pregnant wife and a young son. He wouldn’t stop talking about his son and the new baby and it was clear that this young man loved his children with his whole body, mind, and soul. He was a dad through and through and he had the kindest brown eyes.

Fast forward two years later, the two of us had become close friends and the young man had gone through a divorce that left him without his children. He was heartbroken and sad. He would’ve stayed for his children, but he was not willing to live in an unhappy marriage.

The first few weeks were tough for him, but he was resilient and made his new life the best he could. It was the first time in my life I had witnessed a separation and divorce, and I was doing the best I could to help my friend find happiness again.

Through all the time spent together, the two of us developed more than a friendship. It was obvious for all bystanders, but silly me denied that he was anything more than a good friend until my mother took me to the side and gave me a friendly nudge in the right direction.

Less than a year later we got married.

At a young age I learned, when a man becomes a dad he loves his children with all of his heart. To lose them is one of those things in life that will either make or break him. In my case he learned to hold on to what is good and let go of the bad (fast). He learned to say what he wants without being selfish. He learned to have patience and put others first. He learned to provide and be happy when others smile. He learned to open his heart despite getting hurt. He learned to trust in God and pray for an answer and when he received the answer, he asked me to marry him.

I married a family.

I never imagined what it would be like to have a husband and children from the start and it certainly wasn’t always easy to balance life, work, and children who have another parent in their life. However, I do not regret saying, “Yes” to their dad.

Blending a family takes time and patience. Despite the lack of handbook or guidelines, we navigated this path the best we could. We spent as much time together as possible, went on vacations when we could afford it, and always presented ourselves as a united parental front. I loved our kids as much as they would let me. Sometimes I had more love to give than what was wanted, and that was painful for me, but I’d rather love them too much than not at all.

Blending a family is much like making a smoothie, if one fruit is spoiled the whole shake tastes bad. We had our share of sour smoothies as well; hence we learned, it is very important that everyone is on the same page pulling in the same direction.

That is the (only) road to success in a blended family.

In hindsight, we have many ideas on what could’ve, would’ve, should’ve been done better, but the past is in the past and we can only change what is happening today.

Today I am certain when a man puts someone else’s life before his own, he is a keeper and if you’re lucky to meet a guy like that (and he is easy on the eyes on top of it) then don’t think twice.

I am a lucky woman and would certainly marry this dad again — for better or worse.

Nina Leicht-Crist

Nina Leicht-Crist was born and raised in Southern Germany. Midwifery has been a lifelong passion, though after a long agonizing battle with (in)fertility, she quit working in prenatal and maternity care to pursue a career in writing and translating from home, so she could stay at home and raise her miracle babies. In 2017 Nina self-published an autobiography titled "Love, Faith & Infertility - a story of hope and special forces" hoping it would give someone the strength to keep going on their path to parenthood. It is available on Amazon.