Written by Alicia, our Your Marriage Matters Intern
When I was a little girl, I remember sitting in my room and making a list of the perfect guy I would want to marry. A very long list… with details of what kind of humor he should have, what he should look like, what his family should be like… And as I started actually dating in high school and college, I realized that this wasn’t even important anymore. More importantly, I’d never find him! Through the tragedies of my friends’ failed relationships, and those of my own, I’ve seen a pattern… Even though he didn’t cheat, or she didn’t stop loving him, relationships have failed. There was something missing, and it’s hard to say exactly what it was.
How do you know when it’s right? How does anyone ever REALLY know? Dating can be a lot more stressful than it needs to be. It should be a fun and exciting time, to discover someone else and share who you are with them as well. There comes a time, however, when you start to wonder if you should continue to stick around.
Here are three areas to discern when finding a suitable mate:
1. An Identity: They know who they are; separate from who they are with you. If you were to leave, yes they would be distraught. But eventually, they’d carry on with their life. You are not their sole source of emotional and/or physical wellbeing. They can depend on themselves and understand that you are two separate beings that complement each other, not complete each other. You’re not a void filler, and you both understand that from the beginning.
2. Ownership: They can admit when they are wrong. They can accept that they do make mistakes at times, and that you do as well. You aren’t perfect, and neither are they. The important thing is to take responsibility for your own actions, while also letting your partner take responsibility for their own as well. Not only actions, but emotions as well.
3. Passion: There is something in their life that they are passionate about, and it’s not just you. Whether it’s their job, a hobby, or their love for God, there is something that drives them to get out of bed in the morning, and they have clear goals for where they see themselves going in the future. There’s something that drives them to be a good person or to accomplish things in life. They have a passion in their life, which is a part of their self-identity.
Why are these three characteristics important? Because when you start to grow deeper into a relationship with someone, it’s easy to get blindsided by love and not be able to see clearly who the person is, or who you are for that matter. If you don’t have an identity that is your own, you can get lost in someone else. If you don’t own your mistakes, you can often be unaware of how you may be causing your love to slowly weaken. If you aren’t passionate about something in life, you may not have a life outside of your partner, which leads to a dependence that can cause a lot of problems in marriage… Disappointments and failed expectations.
If you know these things early, you’ll be less likely to get stuck in a relationship that you can’t get out of when things go awry. You want someone who can love you because they love themselves, and respect you as much as they respect themselves. Don’t be a nit picker… but know what you deserve. You won’t find the perfect guy or girl… but you’ll find the perfect guy or girl for YOU. Remember to enjoy yourself, and have fun!