Is he “the one?” Is he not “the one?” Around this time, 21 years ago, I was asking myself that very question. My sister had asked me during Christmas if I thought Brian was “the one.” I had told her, “I think so but I’m not sure yet.” I also wondered, “How will I know for sure? How will I decide?” This is a legitimate question. I knew he was someone I was growing to love, for more reasons than just his cute dimples when he smiled, the way he made me laugh, his thoughtfulness, his intellect, the way he looked at me and seemed to admire me. Of course, those things were all nice.
Let’s go back in time to high school and to my plan — you know, the plan for marriage that girls often form in their head or on paper. It of course includes ideal qualities for a future husband, but also possibly the ideal timeline for things to happen in an ideal world (notice the use of “ideal” several times!). In high school, I planned I would graduate from college, go to graduate school, work for two years, establish my career, get married and then have a couple of children sometime. I would have also dated the man for about two years, followed by a year of engagement before we were married.
Things were working out very differently than my plan. I had changed quite a bit since I formed the plan for my life; and even the things I was looking for in a husband had altered. By this point in February, I had dated Brian for about four months and really only knew “of him” before that time. I had not known him for two years and I felt like he could ask me to marry him soon! Yikes!
What is the question?
Really, I was asking myself two different questions. The first question had to do with, “What kind of person do I want to marry?” The second question was, “Is he the one?” Discovering whether Brian was the type of person I wanted to marry helped answer the question, “Is he the one I want to marry?” Let me share with you a few things I think are significant for making this decision, and also what I noticed about Brian. Some of these things may matter to you, but maybe not. I discovered I cared about these things deeply.
What is he living for?
I quickly discovered the answer to this question. Let me describe what I mean by that with some observations I made. I discovered this person I was dating was open to God’s plan for his life, even for his future career. To me it was pretty amazing that someone who was graduating with honors in mechanical engineering, and had worked three semesters for a well-known company with a job offer with that company, would consider other possibilities. That seemed a little crazy, and I liked it. We know an ambassador is someone that represents someone else, goes where sent with a message of the one sending them. I saw this kind of life in Brian as he followed God. He saw his life belonging to God and that was attractive to me. At the time I started dating him, he was seriously considering serving overseas for a year and was learning the language of that country.
Question to think about:
Is this person open for change and to God’s ways and plan?
What does he love?
I do love coffee, chocolate, or a good book. Brian loves football, reading, and learning. As we dated, I found out about all sorts of things he loved, but I could clearly observe he loved things of significance –things that really mattered, and mattered to me as well. God’s Word was a shaping force in his life. It wasn’t just something he said he valued, but I saw him treasure it and follow it. He was a student and lover of God and His word. While dating, he was studying the Gospel of John. It is funny how much I love this book now. (We even gave our third son the middle name John). I discovered what we love touches all areas of our life
Question to ask:
Can I see tangibly that he loves things that matter?
What ingredients of his character make for a lasting relationship?
Everyone says that character matters, but what kind of character matters to you? Even though I may not have been able to put it fully into words at that time, I observed faithfulness in Brian. I felt like I could trust him because of the self-discipline and self-control I observed in his life, demonstrated in school and his treatment of me. Taking on engineering and doing it well is no easy task! He also treated me with kindness and respect. Because I was not his wife yet, he would not treat me as if I was — respecting physical boundaries and avoiding things that we would regret later was important to him. Self-discipline in one area of life often overflows into other areas, an important ingredient in a recipe for faithfulness. Early in our marriage, we took a personality test, which described our personalities as one of four kinds of animals. Brian was the golden-retriever — faithful and loyal. (I on the other hand was the beaver.) I was getting a glimpse of faithfulness when we dated, and I still benefit from it today. As my parents recently celebrated their 50th anniversary, I was reminded that lasting character matters.
Question to ponder:
What character quality stands out to you that will make a difference in the years to come?
How does he add to my life or make me a better person?
Of course the guy makes you feel loved, important and special, but I am talking about, where does he add to you? Where is he different than you, and helps make the two of you more complete? I quickly saw there was simplicity to Brian. I specifically enjoyed his simplicity when we dated. We went on fun and creative dates: biking along Town Lake in Austin, walking on the golf course, playing Frisbee golf or games, picnicking, and watching old classic movies on campus. I loved it when we dressed up and saw Handel’s Messiah on campus or sat by the fountain and talked. He dated me and took time to think about our date. He didn’t necessarily spend a lot of money (which of course I wasn’t opposed to!) but I appreciate that he took the time to get to know me and that we would actually do something on our dates. I think I was finding out that significance, success and value came from something much greater.
Later I would find out he was not going to go into debt for my ring or for our honeymoon, even though it was his responsibility alone to take care of these things. He wasn’t caught up in being impressive or in having the latest trendy, cool things. As I look back, I can see that this simplicity is part of who he is. He kept what really mattered, what had eternal significance, before him. From how we spend our money, to where we live and what we do, he helps me to live in light of what is important. For this, I have been thankful for over the years.
Question for thought:
How do you improve each other?
What is the answer?
Now back to the question. I quickly found Brian to be the kind of person I wanted to marry. If I said yes, I was saying yes every day to him for, hopefully, the next 50 years or more! I have already alluded that I was attracted to him and was growing more in love with him. Of course, I also saw that he had flaws, and he could easily see my flaws. However, I sensed God was in this and had brought us together. I prayed and I prayed. I asked God over Christmas that he would give me certainty. I wanted to be certain when Brian asked me. I tried not to focus on figuring it out, but instead I tried to keep my focus on God, spend time in His word and enjoy the relationship with Brian. I began to see that Brian was a part of my life and I couldn’t see my life without him. It was strange how it happened and it just kind of happened…. somewhere in February I just knew he was the one. For me, it really did seem like an answer to prayer, because of the amount of certainty I had. Then on March 14, during a mission trip in Monterrey, Mexico I said, “Yes!”
Other things to think about:
- What qualities do you observe that make for a lasting relationship?
- Is this the type of man I can see being married to for the next 50 years?
- Do I see him as having qualities to be a good father?
- What do others say about him?
- How does he treat others?
- What is his focus on? Is he overly focused on stuff, his career, or on things that have lasting significance?
- Is he available and open to God’s plan?
Sometimes as we think about these things, we realize that we also are still growing in these areas. That is ok. Being on a path of growth is a good thing!
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