How do you know it’s “the one?”

337030_305259672839136_315002065_oImage by Kristen McGaughey

Is this “the one?”

“Who will I marry?” is one of the big questions in life. People all over the world want to know: “Is this the one?” Many are waiting for that mystical moment when they will know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the person standing before them will be their one true love ’till the end of time.

I once heard someone say, “You don’t marry someone you can live with. You marry someone you can’t live without.”

I’m gonna tell you – I hate this phrase.

In my life, this mentality about love and marriage led to LOTS of confusion and hurt. There was a time when I was paralyzed by the fear that I would miss “the one” and consequently be miserable for all time. I didn’t date around, didn’t have many boyfriends, but there were many times when I asked myself, “Is this the one – that one perfect fit, my other half, the one God set aside for me?”

Talk about pressure!

Husband Material – Not What You Might Expect

It was a long road to get here, but this week, Josh and I are celebrating our six-year anniversary. I can honestly say that my husband is exactly what I needed and not at all what I expected.

I’m super strong-willed, and I always knew I needed a strong man in marriage. I was looking for someone charismatic, one of those obvious leaders in any crowd. And I was waiting to meet someone I just couldn’t live without.

When Josh and I dated, I never had an “a-ha” moment when I instantly knew he was “the one.” Over the course of two years, a subtle realization grew inside me: this was a man I wanted to live with for the rest of my life.

The first time I actually thought, “This guy might be husband material” was not a romantic, heart pounding moment. We were disagreeing about something. I was prepping myself for a fight, certain that this conversation would end in hurt feelings and anger on both sides. Ever so hesitantly, I spoke up. He sat in silence. And then, to my utter shock, he simply said, “ok,” and moved the conversation on.

This moment began the road to marriage for me. I saw a man who would welcome my opinion, not be threatened if it differed from his, and be willing to agree to disagree. At the same time, here was a guy who was not swayed from his own opinion, simply because mine differed.

I saw in that moment that he could lead in a marriage. He wouldn’t strong arm me, bully me, or insist on his way, but he also wasn’t a pushover. He was calm, confident, strong in his principles, but a gracious listener and humble enough to consider my opinion when I didn’t agree.

This relationship felt like freedom. Freedom to be who we are, have and voice our own thoughts, but be secure that disagreement doesn’t have to end in a fight.

And this was the moment when I began to love Josh.

Choosing to Love “The One”

You’ll notice I did not say “fell in love with Josh.” I didn’t claim that I looked in his eyes and knew he was “the one.” I saw how he handled our relationship, how he responded to conflict, how he related to me. I imagined what marriage to him would be like, and I recognized it would be peaceable and free.

I began to love him. I chose to invest in him, in our relationship. I chose to begin that walk, emotionally-speaking, toward marriage.

And the feelings grew. Those giddy, romantic moments came – those moments you’re “supposed” to have when you’re with “the one.”

I Gave up “The One” Mentality

This idea of finding “the one” or someone you “can’t live without” is not a principle I believe in anymore.

Clearly, my personal experience is one basis for me to give up “the one” mentality. I thought for a long time that because I never met someone I “couldn’t live without” that I shouldn’t get married.

Now, I realize that some people are more natural “romantics” than I am – they love to be giddy and what I would call cheesy. Those people very well may feel that they can’t live without their significant other. Sometimes I envy them.

I’m a realist – practical, rationale, analytical to a fault. To me, the concept of not being able to live without someone makes no sense. When Josh and I dated, I knew I could live without him. I had done so for 28 years. I wouldn’t drop down and die if we weren’t together.

But as my love and respect for him grew, as we got to know each other more, I knew I didn’t want to live without him. My life was better when we were together. We challenged each other, strengthened each other, brought joy into each other’s lives.

The more important basis for me giving up “the one” mentality is that I don’t see it as a Biblical concept. We are taught that in Christ, we “live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). Jesus said that He came so we might “have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). I struggled for years over the idea of being able to have abundant life in Christ but also not being able to live without a man. How does that work?

Scripture says it wasn’t good for Adam to be alone (Genesis 2:18) and that he who finds a wife finds a good thing (Proverbs 18:22). But it also teaches freedom of choice. In Numbers 36, God commanded that a certain group of Israelite women could marry anyone they thought best, within their tribe. It doesn’t say “anyone they couldn’t live without.” No, anyone they thought best.

Yes, the Bible does give some principles on whom we should marry. The most important of these is that a follower of Christ should marry another follower of Christ. But, aside from some general principles, God allows us freedom to choose.

Josh and I got married because we believed it was best. We had prayed. We’d sought counsel. We’d spent enough time together that we knew it was a good fit and a healthy relationship. We had chosen to love each other. Yes, we felt the romance and the giddy emotions. But that was the byproduct of a relationship based on Biblical principles, and not the basis of the relationship itself.

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Image by Kristen McGaughey

Parting Wishes for You

Why do I share all of this today? Because “the one” mentality caused great hurt and confusion in my own life as a single person. I’ve seen so many others wrestle with the same question I did for years: “Is this the one? Is this someone I can’t live without?”

I share this today because I hope that my experiences might help someone else. I pray that you might be encouraged in your singleness or your thoughts about marriage.

Next week I’ll write about “the one” mentality within marriage. It’s a journey that I’m on now, as a wife. I’m far from having all the answers, but I’ll share some of things God is teaching us in our marriage.

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