Today we’re changing things up to talk about personal things and not work...because I am t-minus 3 days from getting married!!! I’ve gotten a lot of questions on Instagram and LinkedIn about my story of meeting Brent, how I’ve gone from single as a pringle to about to get married, and how I’ve navigated singleness, dating, and engagement as a career woman. So I invited my sweetie Brent onto the podcast episode today so we can share our story together! Work and LinkedIn are a part of our dating and engagement story. We’re answering your questions and sharing some advice from our own lives of singleness and dating.
How did we Meet?
There’s some dispute as to whether it was divine intervention or dumb luck, but we definitely agree that we didn’t meet a minute too soon or a minute too late.
We met via a friend of ours. Brent had been in a Bible study with him and Jena was in a class with him. This friend was a great lookout for helping Brent be intentional about taking action to meet someone, setting himself up for success. He gave Brent a book called How to Get a Date Worth Keeping – which I read too, and Team Viviano are all big fans of. It gives some great advice on how to “get your numbers up” for dating, amongst other things.
“I always was so honored and felt like it was the most thoughtful thing in the world when one of my buddies or their wives would set me up with somebody. It’s the highest form of compliment. It’s so easy not to do that, and no one needs to do that. It always meant a lot to me over the years.” –Brent Dunay
Both of us had not great dates the night before this friend connected the dots to set us up. The night before!
I was in a faith and work class and shared at the end that I was “Now taking applications for Mr. Viviano”– and our mutual friend thought of Brent based on the pictures I shared. He told me some info about him (tall, loves Jesus, from Pittsburgh – maybe not the best recommendations t first!). And so the setup began...
Our Dating Story
After our first date, I had a bit of a meltdown because it took Brent a little while to get back to me. But then we went on a great second date...and then I started falling for him. And Brent knew he was very interested. We had activities to do and great conversation in the midst. Brent wanted to know a lot more and to share a lot more after that date...so he kept asking me out!
We were both showing up in our lives. I was in a faith and work class that I heard about from my old boss at the NYSE. God was working behind the scenes all the way back then!
“You’re Too Intimidating” – Truth or Not?
So many men over the years have said to me, “You’re too intimidating.” Even family members have said things like, “You’re too ambitious.” UGH. If I had a dollar for every time….!
When I asked Brent if he found me intimidating, he immediately said, “No!” When we first met, he didn’t know what I did for work for awhile and he didn’t care a ton. It was important to him in the sense that I cared about it, was driven, and stood on my own two feet. But not beyond that. Which was such an incredible change!
Brent has taught me to hold my career in its proper place. He excels and achieves at his work, but he keeps work in its proper place by thinking of it as a piece of the pie rather than the thing that comes first.
To a woman who’s been called intimidating, Brent’s advice is:
The right guy is not going to care. Anybody who is secure in themself isn’t going to be intimidated by what someone else does for work.
Don’t change yourself to appease other people.
Why would you change who you are to get more dates or find someone else? It isn’t going to end well.
Don’t overcomplicate it and don’t try to change yourself or make yourself less, friends! Be your ambitious, all-out gal self!
After Being Single So Long, What’s Surprised You?
It was fast for us, knowing we wanted to marry each other within the first few months. A year and a half in, the love is deeper and we’re both still works in progress. We were in the appropriate places spiritually, mentally, professionally, etc. to meet our person. But we’re not done or perfect – we have a lot of growth to go. And after time, the initial shine wore off and we’ve seen more of where we love each other and where we have to grow.
How We Got Engaged
Brent wanted to propose months before he actually did! There were a lot of reasons for it, and he bided his time well.
My ring is from Walton’s and it was kind of a miracle of how we got it. Brent shares the full story on that – it was a lot of fun. If you’re looking for jewelry in Franklin, we LOVE Walton’s!!
Brent also shares the story of asking my dad for his blessing – and it’s pretty hilarious! The timing and the nerves and the whole thing is great.
Then entered LinkedIn. My sister and Brent colluded on engagement plans, and Moriah convinced me to go to lunch and help work on her LinkedIn profile. Which proved a great distraction! Although I definitely was suspicious. And Brent got it all decked out and played a really special song that means a ton to me, a note, flowers, candles, the whole thing! And a surprise party to boot!
What Are We Most Excited For About Marriage?
Living in the same place! And getting through the constant “to do” list of combining our lives. We’re both excited about quality time together during my sabbatical and getting our life together started! We’ll have a home together, all our things in one place, a routine of life together. So exciting! And I am super pumped for doing life together – good and bad, for better or worse, team building together!
What Do We Want Our Marriage to Be Known For?
This is a question we were asked in premarital counseling and I think it’s such great question. I don’t want us to be known for all the things – that would set us up for failure. I (Jena) want us to be known for our communication. That we’re good communicators with one another and with ourselves. And I want us to be known for our hospitality. That our doors will be open and our home open for our people.
Brent wants our marriage to be known for communication and the willingness to be open-handed and open-minded. That we would be open, willing to change our minds, humble, and flexible.
What is The Craziest Thing About Getting Married in the Middle of a Pandemic?
Here we are in month...who knows?! The first couple months were tough – everything kept changing, everything got flipped on its head, and we couldn’t make any decisions. When we finally made the decision to postpone our wedding, there was so much freedom!
But also...we just figured out in the last few weeks where we’re having our ceremony and dinner. And for all we know, the dinner location could change too! I feel like in the grand scheme of things, we’ve handled it well. But it has been a lot.
Encouragement for the Singles
Brent says it was super healthy for him to find a place of being okay being single, to be content in the season he was in, present and content. That set him up for a healthy place when he met Jena.
He also said it’s good to work your dating muscle. Go on lots of dates – going on first dates and second dates with lots of people helps you feel way more comfortable in general. Practice meeting new people, get over the shine and nerves of a first date, and be more comfortable with the whole process of dating. I second this as well. It helps normalize going on dates – and it normalizes rejection too! It helped me be able to show up as who I am, truly and fully and comfortably.
Ladies, I’d encourage you to let a man pursue you! Men, pursue the women you’re interested in. It was really important to me and I’m so thankful Brent did that! Brent’s encouragement is to look at previous situations to see what’s worked and hasn’t in past relationships.
Remember: there ARE good guys out there! Keep living your life, rocking your career, and holding onto hope.
Brent & Jena: How Work and LinkedIn Was a Part of Our Love Story
August 5, 2020