“If you live to be a hundred, I want
To live to be a hundred minus one day,
So I never have to live without you.”
Winnie the Pooh
From time to time, I have young men come to me to discuss the dilemma of their relationships with the girls they are dating. The specific question after dating someone for an extended time is, “how do I know that she is the one?”
I am not a professional marriage counselor but having been married over 28 years, I have learned a thing or two. Still, it is a question that does not come with an easy answer. I write this blog to mostly an LDS audience and others who generally accept the premise that the option of living together to “try things out” is not really a viable consideration.
Without taking a potential spouse out for a “test drive” then, how can you make such an important decision and be sure that you will be happy with the consequences of that decision. It can be easy to become paralyzed with the whole situation and be afraid to take another step. It is especially frustrated by the new found social media platforms that promise the possibility that something better is waiting just around the corner.
This is a question that needs to be resolved in your mind and heart but don’t think that because it is hard, it is okay to be indecisive. An investment of time is required to know what is right for you but eventually, you do need to take a step…either closer or further away. Staying on the fence for an extended amount of time is not good for you or your potential spouse. Picture the fence as a series of barbed wires or having glass shards sticking out instead of a nice cushy La-z-boy fence where hanging out is sometimes easier and more comfortable than making a move. Make a decision to move forward or get out of the way so everyone can find that special person that is waiting for them to come into their lives.
Allow me to make a few spiritual and practical suggestions with the hope that one of them or maybe parts of several of them may help you take the next step.
There is a spiritual element that needs to play a part in this decision. There are many stories out there that seem to rely on this as the main reason for making a decision. Who am I to argue with that? May I suggest however, that just as there are many different ways people gain their testimony of Christ and develop their faith, there are also many different ways for someone to be spiritually influenced in their decision on whom to marry.
It is not necessary to speak to the burning bush or to get a burning in your bosom in order to light a fire under your rear to get moving forward with your relationship. God speaks to your mind as well as your heart. As you ponder and pray with real intent, there are a variety of ways to get your answer and many of them will come in the simple forms of which you are most likely already familiar. Among other things, you may feel peace, you may just feel right about it, it may just make a lot of sense to your mind, you may just love being in his/her presence, or you may be touched by how your friend treats other people.
You have the right to individual inspiration and revelation and do not need to depend on the other person’s spiritual promptings to help you determine what is right for you.
There are also practical elements that should play a part in this decision. I understand why people over the ages have said that you can make any marriage work. There is some truth in that because if both parties practice Christ like attributes of forgiveness, love unfeigned, love your enemy and long suffering, you could get along with anyone. However, wouldn’t it be nice if the bedrock of your relationship was actually based on something that made you happy without testing your skills of loving your enemy every day?
Here are four of my favorite practical elements that can help a marriage not only last but be dynamic and awesome:
Respect: Perhaps the biggest one for me is respect. At the end of the day, do you respect your future companion? Do you look at him/her and have an element of dang, this is one special person. They are amazing to you in some regard because of just the way they are. It has nothing to do with looks…it has all to do with character. This will be one of the most sustaining elements in a marriage that survives. How much do you respect them?
Individuality: Are they comfortable with who they are and is that person unique and admirable? It has nothing to do if they are like you at all. It has been said that opposites attract and though sometimes it is like mixing oil and water, people who do not think alike in all things, often create a dynamic that spurs growth for both individuals. It is great to get a few big issues out of the way…to agree on the things that are most important to both of you, but that list can be very short. The other things in life upon which you will differ will provide the fuel in your engine, the butter on your toast, the icing on your cake, the glue in your marriage, the spice in your life and the umph in your triumph.
Hard Worker: The ability to work hard is an attribute that you want your partner to have. Life is hard and someone who can roll up their sleeves without complaining and complete the task at hand will serve your marriage well. How can you tell if they are a hard worker? Pay attention. Do enough things together that require effort so that you begin to get a sense of how they will respond when the real loads of life are placed on their shoulders.
Chemistry: Sure people can love anyone but there is nothing to be ashamed of if you are so attracted to the other person that you can’t think straight. In fact, I would suggest that if it is not there then you may need to move on. Physical attraction is part of the package. I am not sure how much society has impacted what is attractive to each of us…surely it has played a part…but when all is said and done, wanting to be with each other is important. There may be medical reasons that create unhealthy expectations or disinterest but for the most part, proximity, the desire to be close to your spouse, is important.
These spiritual and practical items do not make a very long list. How long is your checklist? Does it include things like: height, weight, teeth, hair color, athleticism, finances, ankle size, education, family situation, pedigree, past history, political persuasion, musical talents, skin tone, religious persuasion, and other things that are yet even more demanding than these?
Marriage is a great adventure and will require all that you are to make it work. It will also require all that you are yet to become and that is brought about by what you will learn from your spouse. Most of the things that you have on your checklist before you get married, will have little to do with the forces that will make you grow together as individuals and as a couple.
For some things that do not line up with what your dreams told you would constitute marriage, you may just have to be the one that carries the weight of that for your spouse just as he/she will have to carry the weight of your short comings. You will be each other’s guardian angel, carrying the weight of the other’s imperfections as you build a marriage that will last forever.
So, is she the one? Well…she is for somebody…whether for you or not, I can’t tell. Your next step however, is to not tarry. Stop trying to fit somebody into the perfect template that you designed several years ago. If you desire to get married, get serious and make some grown up evaluations and decisions regarding the person you are dating. Keep moving towards or away but keep moving.
Before you know it, you will have been married for 28 years and will represent the next generation of wise married folks whose scars and stripes have earned them the right to offer wisdom and council to those making the greatest decision of their lives. I won’t be there…I gotta keep moving too. Life and marriage are too awesome to tarry for too long…the journey is real…keep moving.
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