Q: “How did you know that he/she was The One?”
A: “You just know.”
A common answer to a common question. But is it that simple?
Honestly, it wasn’t for me. My mom always told me that marriage was a calculated risk. I spent a lot of time calculating, and it took me a while to allow myself to take the risk.
When I met Gary, I asked mutual friends – GUY friends – about his character. They all were thrilled with him. No one made funny faces when I mentioned his name or hesitated when they told me I should give him a chance. I also sent him to talk to my spiritual director so he could get approval to begin the courtship. Why in the world would I do that? Because Fr. Ed is an excellent judge of character, specializes in Ignatian discernment, and is one of the strictest priests I know. If anyone was going to catch inconsistencies in this new boyfriend of mine, it would be him.
In every conversation, email, and letter (yes, he wrote me letters!), Gary did make sure to give me as much information as he could about how he grew up, successes and failures he had experienced, and life lessons that changed who he was from the inside out. He was very open with his dreams, his faith, his struggles, and his faults. Gary wasn’t trying to paint a picture for me of a false reality. I could clearly see that he was constantly working to give me the best version of himself.
Did he tell me EVERYTHING? No.
After we got married, I was surprised by the fact that he liked to watch a lot of TV. Would that have been a game-changer during our engagement? Of course not. Within the last six years of marriage, I found out that he also liked boy bands more than I did, he has a fetish for hats, and will randomly burst into song in the middle of a conversation.
By July 8, 2006, I at least knew what kind of a man I was going to marry, and I wanted the whole package. Forever.
It helped that I got input from the people who were important to me. Not just from my friends, but from my mom, my siblings, and my priest (since my dad passed away when I was 18). If I had doubts, I would always bring them to Fr. Ed, and until this day, he will only have good things to say about my husband. This means a lot to me because as our confessor, he has always been well aware of the challenges we have faced individually and as a couple.
Do we have our conflicts? Sure, we do. They’re not frequent, but it definitely still takes work to keep our relationship strong, as it would for anything you want to be good at. Have I ever regretted marrying him? Not for a second. There are too many signs that confirm how perfect he is for me. I’m a better person because of him. My trust in God has grown with him. I’m even healthier now than I was without him. And we have become a team in more ways than one – as parents, as mentors to other young couples, in ministry and in service to God’s people.
All that being said, I cannot stress enough how important it is to allow God to work in your life as a single person first because it prepares you to not only receive the gift of your future spouse someday, but also to give the gift of yourself to him or her. I remember making a list of all the qualities I wanted in a husband. Then I wrote a note to myself in my journal, saying that I needed to be all those things first. So many people are rushing into relationships for all the wrong reasons. They haven’t yet healed from the brokenness suffered from previous breakups and tend to bring their open wounds into their new relationship hoping for that person to just make the pain disappear. They are looking for someone to complete them, often not paying attention to the red flags that signal future heartache and frustration.
It’s a journey that we can only take with Jesus by our side, for the simple reason that He is the one who heals us. He transforms. He encourages. He empowers. He teaches us to love with a selfless, sacrificial heart.
So if you ever ask that question, “How do you know when you’ve found The One?”, you need to pose yet two other questions.
“Does he or she love you the way Jesus loves His Church?”
“Can you love him or her with the same self-giving love of Christ?”