If you’re anything like me, the idea of finding THE ONE is a lot of pressure. After all, there’s millions of other guys in the world. How can we ever know for certain that we’ve found our person?
Not too long ago, Carl and I hosted a Q&A with some of our awesome podcast listeners (you can listen to the whole thing here if you want), and one of the ladies asked about this very thing. We had such a great conversation about it, so I want to share what we talked about with all of you too.
But first, here’s what our sweet listener asked. She said, “I'm dating a great guy. I know he's wonderful. And I know that I love him. I just don't know if he's ‘the one’. He really could be. But the thing is, I don't know what ‘the one’ means. People say you just know, and I don't know anything. So do you guys have any advice about how to make a decision this big and life-changing?”
Friends, I had the hardest time with this one when I was considering marrying Carl (spoiler alert: I DID marry him!), so I’d love to share a few of the most helpful things we did to help us decide whether to get married or not.
Taking Your Time
One of the things I’m so glad we did during this season was to give ourselves time. Choosing to get married is not like choosing to take a job or move somewhere new. Those are big decisions, but they’re reversible. If you don’t end up liking the job, you can always get a different one. But marriage is not reversible. It’s permanent, so you’re allowed to give yourself plenty of time to make that decision.
When Carl and I first started dating, we began talking about marriage fairly quickly. We had both done a lot of work on ourselves and grown as individuals before meeting. And we had both dated a lot, so we knew what we were looking for. So when we started dating, we both thought, “Oh, there’s something here. I might have just found my person.” And pretty quickly, we started talking about marriage. At first, I was so excited. But then, all of a sudden, I freaked out.
I wouldn’t have said I was afraid of marriage or had commitment issues at all. But I was asking myself the same question our listener asked. I knew I really loved Carl. But I also knew my heart had led me in all kinds of wrong directions before, so I didn't feel like I could trust it. I started making these mental pro/con lists, trying to figure out how I could prove to myself that he was the right person for me to marry. I kept asking God to tell me what to do, but He just wouldn’t give me a straight answer.
The pressure was affecting me so much that, after a year of this, we decided to stop talking about marriage for a while. Instead, we decided to just date and enjoy being together. And I’m so glad we did that. Because by sprinting toward the “finish line” of marriage, we all of a sudden stepped out of the dating season. And we had started to miss it. When we stopped talking about the future so much, we were able to just be a normal dating couple. If you think about it, that’s something you only get to experience once with the person you’re going to marry, and it would have been so sad if we had missed out on that sweet season of our relationship.
So we took marriage off the table for a while. And I was able to do some more work on myself that I really needed to do. I spent a lot of time with God that I needed, I was able to go to counseling, and Carl and I had tons of really great conversations. All of those things helped me make my decision later down the road, but the biggest thing that really gave me my answer was watching Carl during this whole experience. I got to see who he was when things got hard. I got to see how he would show up for me when I wasn’t ok. By taking this extra time, I was able to really see these things and recognize that he was exactly the kind of person I wanted to spend the rest of my life with.
By the time he did ask me to marry him, I got to say the most enthusiastic YES ever. I was so sure, because we had taken plenty of time, and I had gotten to see his true character through it.
Realizing There May Not Be a Right or Wrong Choice
The first time Carl told any of his close friends he was going to ask me to marry him, one of his friends asked, “How do you know she’s the one for you? Aren’t you curious if there’s someone even better for you out of all the rest of the women in the world?”
I love Carl’s answer. He said, “No, I’m really not. Sure, there may be someone better for me out in the world somewhere, but I don’t care about them anymore. I don’t want to pursue that possibility any longer. I want to pursue this possibility. I’m choosing Stephanie.”
That’s the thing. When it comes down to it, this is really your choice. It’s not about finding the one and only person who’s right for you, because I believe there are many possibilities for you, and you simply get to pick one. The marriage we create with the person we choose is always going to be better than the marriage that could have been with the person we may never find.
If this guy is absolutely wrong for you, God will show you that as you pursue your relationship with Him first. If this guy is the wrong choice, you’re going to know. And please don’t ignore that! Like we’ve been saying, there are millions of other guys in the world, and one of them is going to be someone God would love for you to marry.
But if you don’t see a clear red flag, the choice is yours. And there’s freedom in that. You get to use the mind and heart God gave you to choose who you want to do life with.
When you take that wedding vow to forsake all others, that’s the very moment you are choosing the one for you. You are saying that this is your person, that you’re abandoning the pursuit of any other possibilities, and you’re going to put all you have into making this marriage work.
Because no matter who you marry or how perfect they are for you, it will take work. So the question to ask yourself is, “Is this someone I want to put in the work with? The one I want to live for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health with?”
Now, you may be wondering, “But Steph, how do I make that choice? I’m still not sure how I’m supposed to know for certain that he is the one I want to do life with.”
Don’t worry, we’re going to talk about that next!
Deciding What You Want
There’s something very abstract and mysterious (and alluring!) about the idea that “you’ll just know if he’s the one.” Maybe there are people out there who somehow just know, but I was not one of them.
If you’re not either, maybe something you need to ask yourself is, “What do I need to know in order to know he is the guy for me?” In other words, what are your deal breakers, your non-negotiables, when it comes to who you marry? What is currently standing in your way of knowing that this guy is someone you could marry? Think about character qualities, communication skills, his walk with God, and anything else that’s really important to you.
After you figure that out, the next question is, “What do I simply get to decide?” Maybe this guy has met all of your non-negotiables, and you know this is someone you could marry. At this point, it could go either way. You can either choose to marry him, or you can choose not to. And that’s really tough to wrestle with. You may be like me, knowing he is a really great guy for you but wishing you had a concrete answer. A clear “Yes, this is the one for you,” or a “No, end this relationship now.” Sometimes we get a clear no, like we talked about earlier. But other times we don’t get a concrete answer. Sometimes it comes down to us and who we want to marry. It comes down to, “Is this someone I want to spend every day with? Put in the work with? Face hard things with?”
There’s one thing I have to remind you about while you make this decision. While looking for someone with a strong character is super important, don’t expect perfection. You’re not looking for someone who has his entire life perfectly in order and has all the answers. You’re not looking for someone to have a golden fairy tale life with either. You’re looking for someone who will solve problems with you, celebrate with you, walk through grief and hardship and frustration with you, resolve conflict with you, and someone who you can be vulnerable with.
No one will make everything in life be ok. But someone could make the journey a little better, a little more manageable. And a lot more fun. Is the person you’re dating someone who could do that for you? And you for him?
Whenever you do find the guy that you choose to be the one for you, you’ll get to say your most enthusiastic YES ever, just like I did. And then it’s time to make something good. To build your marriage into whatever you want it to be.
Friends, I hope this post took some of the pressure off you about this big question. It’s a scary question for sure but one that you have so much say over and freedom in. Just don’t let it steal the joy from your relationship!
P.S. If you’re wanting more encouragement and advice on this subject, listen to this podcast episode where a friend and I talk about it in even more depth!