In xoNecole's Our First Year series, we take an in-depth look at love and relationships between couples with an emphasis on what their first year of marriage was like.
If you were to ask Sopha Rush, 26, and Anthony Rush, 26, how they met, they'd recall a story that gives you Love & Basketball vibes.
The newly married college sweethearts met each other back in 2011 when Anthony transferred to her school to play basketball. Mutual friends introduced them and Sopha's interest was piqued by his mysteriousness. Anthony was reeled into Sopha by her aura and her vibe. From there, they became friends themselves, then best friends, and in 2013, made things official.
In her, Anthony saw her love for other people and God, connecting to her on a spiritual level in a way that he had never done in any other relationship before her. In him, she saw a man pursuing God wholeheartedly and God radiate through him. A quick peek at Sopha's Instagram filled with photos of her and her husband Anthony will have just about anyone labeling the couple as #relationshipgoals, but one conversation with them shows how deep their love goes and just how much being deeply rooted in Christ serves their union. The couple celebrated their first year wedding anniversary this past June.
This is their journey.
Anthony Rush: I knew Sopha was the one the night she shared her testimony with me. It was that night, I wanted to just hold her as she broke down, and wrap my arms around her. It was then. For the first time, I saw her as more than just a friend, as someone that I can see myself spending my life with. I knew that I wanted my next relationship to be intentional leading eventually to marriage. I was at an age where I wasn't just going to be dating just to date. I just knew that I was ready to make this commitment.
For me, it wasn't a hard decision because I knew I wanted to grow old with her.
Sopha Rush: I knew my husband was the one after a few encounters. I don't think there was specifically one time where a lightbulb went off, but just watching my husband over the years in college. The way he loved God, his teammates, his family. It was his character that attracted me to him. The way God just radiated through him. The way he was wholeheartedly chasing after God. I always knew I wanted to get married and when we started dating, I knew we were going to get married. Just wasn't sure when. I was madly in love with this man and I just wanted to serve in ministry with him and have all his babies. So, I knew from the beginning of our relationship.
True Love Waits
Anthony: [Abstinence] wasn't challenging for me because I wanted to respect my wife's decision to wait until our wedding day.
I wasn't celibate, but practiced abstinence while waiting until we got married.
We had to set boundaries and follow through because it was temptations left and right but we had to make sure we didn't hang out past a certain time by ourselves and constantly remind ourselves of the end goal, because some days were harder than others.
Sopha: Well, I knew since 7th grade, I wanted to make a vow to God that I was going to save myself for marriage. I wanted the first time to be special and with the person I wanted to spend forever with. To me, being celibate was a gift and I wanted to honor God in waiting. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't easy, but it sure was worth it. Anthony was beyond respectful when it came to me wanting to wait. He understood what that meant to me and honored my decision.
I knew it was hard for him because he was practicing abstinence, but for me he waited 3 ½ years for me, and that to me spoke volumes. I've been celibate until I was 24 and married. I think being long distance for two years, helped us stay obedient because if y'all ever seen my husband, he's fine and so it was so tempting, but my husband did a great job with reminding me of the end goal when I wanted to give in and use the excuse well, we are going to get married anyways, why do we need to wait. Yeah, it wasn't easy, but because my husband was strong, we made it.
Anthony: [My biggest fear was] not being fully prepared or not really knowing what to expect when it came to living together and no longer having to do long distance. I understood it wasn't going to be easy, but I went in it thinking positively knowing we would have to go through it together as a team.
Sopha: My biggest fear walking into marriage. Not sure I had any until after we got married. I had so many expectations that were unrealistic that I began to doubt we were even going to make it past the first year. I guess when I learned that my husband isn't perfect and I can't ever change him, was when I was able to allow him to grow and become the husband I desired him to be.
Anthony: [Our biggest challenge living together was] learning to communicate effectively. We both grew up communicating differently so it was challenging at first. We both had to learn how to respect one another and give each other space when needed. We are still learning all of these things. It doesn't just disappear overnight.
We had to learn what's hers is mine and what's mine is hers. That together we are a team.
Sopha: For us, I think the most challenging things for us was communication, and boundaries. I wasn't the best communicator because I was the type to shut down, but with time, and patience, comes growth in learning how to communicate effectively. Also respecting each other boundaries and space. I needed to learn how to let my husband have his time with his video games as much as I hated them, and learn to be let him do what helped him unwind after work. Just like I would get lost in a book, he needs the same respect when it came to his time on the game.
Anthony: I've learned the thing I like the most about us is getting to plan a future with someone. It's exciting. The thing I noticed I liked the least was how she would always shut down during conversations in the beginning of our marriage. I just had to be patient and learn how to better understand her feelings.
Sopha: We both grew up communicating differently so it was challenging at first. We both had to learn how to respect one another and give each other space when needed.
Anthony: In loving her, I've learned never give up. There will be hard times, unexpected things that happen, but it's no time for us to give up on each other. We lean on God for our strength and we keep fighting together, not against one another. Not always easy but it's worth it.
Sopha: I learned how selfish I really am and how I sometimes don't put my husband first. Some days I didn't want to love him like I should because I'm in a bad mood, so I might take it out on him. So many things I've learned early in marriage that I'm so thankful I've learned. Not saying I don't ever have those days now, just not as much. Growth is a beautiful thing.
Anthony: I go to my dad for marriage advice. We are best friends and I can talk to him about everything. He's my go-to and I look up to him because seeing my parents have a God-centered marriage has shown me the man I am striving to be for my family.
Sopha: My mother-in-law is who I go to. She has been such an amazing help. She is full of so much wisdom, plus she's been in the game for almost 20 years, so she understands the struggles and the joys in marriage. She doesn't just tell me things I want to hear, but what I need to hear. And she isn't biased when it comes to her son. She listens well.
The Best Part
Anthony: I love my wife's beautiful smile. Her selflessness and how she always looks for the best interest of others, and her love for God. She has such a gentle spirit and is always trying to help others heal and become the best person they can be. I love that she doesn't know a stranger. She loves everyone she meets.
Sopha: I love how my husband is constantly serving and mentoring young men through the sport of Basketball. Anthony has an enormous heart, making him love hard and do anything for anyone because that's just the kind of man he is. Supportive, caring and ready to help when ever needed. Super passionate about God, basketball, and family.
Follow along with the Rushs on their journey. They seek to inspire, empower, and point others closer to Jesus. Feel free to follow them on Instagram @rushanthony and @livedeeplyrooted and on Twitter @sopharush and @rushanthony.
In xoNecole's Our First Year series, we take a more in-depth look at love and relationships between couples with an emphasis on what their first year of marriage was like. If you and your partner would like to be featured in the series, email us your story at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject “Our First Year"!