Many years ago, I met a beautiful woman. A dinner date set up the same day I received a message from her on OkCupid turned into dinner, then a 3-hour walk in the park talking. Three months later, we were married. It has been one of the best decisions of my life, and I love her more every day.
At the time, many of our friends and family thought we were crazy. A few even tried to talk us out of going through with the wedding. On the other hand, I knew that we were making the right decision, no matter how crazy it sounded. So was it chance? Or science?
In retrospect, it was a bit crazy for us to get married after only three months. But I had spent the year prior to meeting Pamela reading every book I could find on healthy relationships, so maybe there was a bit more to it than just crazy good luck. Let me take a few minutes to explain how I was so sure I had met “The One” and what you should look for if you think you might have met “The One” as well.
How Do You Know If You've Met “The One”?
If you're 15 or even 20, while this article may help some, I hate to break it to you, but you are unlikely to be able to tell if you have met “The One” quite yet. I'm not saying you haven't, I'm just saying it's going to be a lot more difficult for you to be sure.
Statistically speaking, according to the CDC those who get married before age 20 in the US have only a 40% chance of the relationship surviving long term. Those who wait until they are at least 25 have more than a 70% chance of long-term survival. Add in a college degree and attending a religious service once a week, and survival rates jump up to over 90%! So it's not all doom and gloom like you hear in the media…if you don't jump in too young.
Personally, I believe that the reason age matters so much is that by your mid 20's you are more likely to know what you want and don't want in a partner because of experience and maturity. You have usually lived on your own for a while, and have started being able to manage your own household. This leads me to my next point…
2. We Knew What We Wanted From a Partner
We had both created written lists of what we wanted and didn't want from our life experiences. I believe knowing what you want from a partner is critical. If you don't know what you are looking for, how will you know when you find it?
So what was on my list? Here's what I was looking for, and found, in a mate. My wife's list was a little different, and yours will be as well. If you know what you're looking for, you'll have a lot better chance of knowing when you've found it.
- Integrity – I must know my partner will always try to do the right thing, even if that is not the popular thing.
- Caring – my partner must genuinely care for others. I must be proud to have her in my life.
- Availability – my partner must truly enjoy my company and I must enjoy hers…in many scenarios. We should be able to be together once married on a daily basis.
- Health – my partner should be very active and interested in participating with me in activities. I should be very attracted to her.
- Cleanliness – my partner should require minimal maintenance from me. I do not want to have to pick up after her on a regular basis, and she should desire a clean house as well.
- No Excuses – my partner should take responsibility for her own actions, and not try to pawn off responsibility for her situation on others.
- Finances – my partner should be responsible with her finances.
- Friends – we must be friends and able to communicate well about a wide variety of subjects.
- No Addictions – my partner must not abuse any substances (drugs/alcohol)
If you are not sure what you want out of a relationship, you are NOT ready for marriage!!!
Was I heads over heels in love with this woman? Yes, I was, and still am. The love is a little different now, though. The crazy love that you may feel upfront when things are still new is called Limerence. It comes and goes over time, some days that feeling comes rushing back, some days it is just a comfortable love where you know the other person always has your back, and you always have theirs. Just because those initial butterflies have died down doesn't mean you've fallen out of love, it just means things are no longer new.
People have spent their entire lives chasing those butterflies, never fully realizing that they are just experiencing those feelings as a result of something being new. It's like a new toy to a child, you get excited at first, and then over time, the excitement dies down. Without a little more to base the relationship on than those feelings, it's not likely to survive long term.
3. We Were Heading in The Same Direction
According to a study done at Cornell University involving over 500 people married 40+ years, relationships that survive for the long haul have similar life values and goals. Find someone heading in the same direction you are, and you've found someone who might just be the person you could walk next to for a lifetime.
4. We Worked Through A Premarital Workbook
I know this sounds really romantic, but trust me here. Before you get married, you should go through some sort of premarital workbook with your partner to make sure that your values are really in line. Many people get so focused on the wedding that they forget to take the time to prepare for the marriage.
Don't let that be you!
Here is a premarital workbook that my wife and I used – Getting Ready for Marriage Workbook: How to Really Get to Know the Person You're Going to Marry. Working through this grew us closer than ever and reinforced the fact that we were making the right decision.
I also highly recommend reading ScreamFree Marriage: Calming Down, Growing Up, and Getting Closer. You might not have ever actually screamed at anyone in your life, but we've all had conflicts, and you will have conflict in a lifelong relationship at some point. Going silent is another form of screaming, if you shut down on people when you are angry, you are screaming! This book will show you how to resolve conflict and grow in your relationships, both romantic and otherwise.
5. It Felt Right
Have you ever just known that something is right, or that something is a little off? Listen to that little voice. Someone could check everything off your list, and still be wrong for you. You can never fully boil love down to a formula which I found out, although I sure tried. For me, anytime I have ignored it in the past, I've been sorry. I trusted my gut this time, and it paid off.
USE YOUR HEAD TO REDUCE THE RISK, THEN LISTEN TO YOUR GUT!!!
TL;DR: Considering marriage and want to know if you've met the one? Ask yourself these five questions.
- Are we at least close to our mid-20s in age?
- Do they match what I am looking for in a partner? Do I even know what I want?
- Are we heading in the same direction with similar values and dreams?
- Have we worked through a premarital course?
- Do I feel good about this decision? Listen to your gut!
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