“How did you know he was ‘the one’?” This question was posed by a friend of mine from high school. She and I sat at a table with four other girls from our high school class, three of whom were also recently married. I was the veteran of the group, having been married over two years at the time. We tried our best to answer her question, and though we all came from different backgrounds, some Christian, some not, we found we had a lot in common when it came to choosing our mates.
Defending your reasoning for knowing about “the one” isn’t so easy anymore. It seems like the typical answer of “you just do” just doesn’t cut it. With divorce rates as high as they are, people need some sort of security or assurance before they make such a big decision. I am sure that’s what my friend was searching for. She had been with her boyfriend on and off since seventh grade. If any of us from that group were to able say why we chose one person over another, it should have been her. Yet, most of us had taken the plunge, and she trusted our advice. The following is what we came up with:
1. We suddenly arrived at a place where we couldn’t imagine our lives without this person. This is a common response and an important one. Instead of constantly wondering if there is something better out there, you finally wake up and realize the best thing you’ll ever have is right in front of you. You see a future with this person. All your life, you’ve dreamed of having children and growing older, and at last you’ve found a person that fits into your dreams. You stop questioning if he or she is “the one” because it doesn’t make sense any other way.
2. This person is our best friend. Dating is fun. We become so enamored with someone that he or she is all we can think about. Before deciding if he or she is “the one,” however, you must assess what you really mean to one another. My high school friends and I all agreed that we spend more time with our husbands than anyone else. Regardless of how many friends you have, something happens when you get married that suddenly outcasts you from other friends. When all other things in life fail you, this person will be the one you can run to and who will always be supportive of you. This person is the one you can share everything with.
3. This person completes us. Oh, how I hate clichés and empty one-liners, but I have found completeness in marriage that I never knew before. I adore C.S. Lewis’ chapter on marriage in Mere Christianity. He says, “The inventor of the human machine was telling us that its two halves, the male and the female, were made to be combined together in pairs, not simply on the sexual level, but totally combined.” I love this because it is so true. When I am apart from my husband I feel incomplete. My jokes, laughter, tears and thoughts are all less meaningful without him to share them with. People who try to base relationships solely on a sexual connection or any other spark they may have will soon find that it takes many more connections to make a marriage work.
4. We have struggled and prevailed with this person. No marriage is perfect, and there will be times when we disagree. In those times, “being in love” is hardly enough to keep us together. Loving a person, as Christ loves them, as you love yourself, is the only way to make marriage work. Choosing to marry someone because you feel “in love” is fine, but it must go deeper than that. Lewis says, “… the promise, made when I am in love and because I am in love, to be true to the beloved as long as I live, commits one to being true even if I cease to be in love. A promise must be about things that I can do, about actions: No one can promise to go on feeling in a certain way.”
That’s why I was more captivated with the vows to honor and cherish, in sickness and health, rich or poor, in good times and in bad, rather than the promise to love forever. Love is a feeling and feelings are bound to lose their intensity over time. That doesn’t mean that love isn’t there after five, 25 or 50 years, but rather it has changed. Lewis says that if we all lived as “in love” as we were the day before our wedding, we would go crazy. He calls love in another sense more than a feeling. “It is a deep unity, maintained by the will and deliberately strengthened by habit; reinforced by the grace which both [people] ask, and receive, from God.”
I think we answered our friend’s question that day at lunch. Most of us are still boggled at how we made the decisions we have made. My husband said the first time he saw me God told him I would be his wife. That scared me for the longest time. It was so easy for him. Looking back now at the four years we dated before we were married, I see how God was working in me to show me why my husband was “the one” for me. He had become my best friend who completed, supported and encouraged me in every way. We passed “being in love” and though we’re daily still learning what Lewis meant when he talked about that secondary kind of love, we’re building upon a solid foundation.
I left out the most important thing: prayer. Pray for God’s guidance in your decisions. If you are single now, pray for your future husband or wife, that they would grow strong in the Lord. If you are dating, pray that God would strengthen your bond and give you wisdom to know His will. I believe it was God’s will for me to meet and marry my husband. I am two and a half years into this ride and I am still so ecstatic about my decision.