I met my husband in late August, 2009. We were married in mid-February, 2010. That’s right – I had known Eddy for just under 6 months when we tied the knot. A little quick, don’t you think? Many friends asked if I was sure, if I knew I was making the right decision, if I thought I should wait longer.
Even though it had been fast, I was sure. Now, over three years and two children later, I am still sure, and am the happiest woman in the world because I have Eddy at my side.
I am not writing this to encourage fast dating and marriages. They sometimes work and sometimes don’t. I’m writing this to encourage intentional dating – knowing why you’re dating and what you’re looking for.
I’m one of those people who believe there is one person out there truly meant for you to marry. It wouldn’t be impossible to live a happy life if you marry someone else – the two of you could make it work through commitment and dedication… But it’s much easier, and more fulfilling, if you really do find Mr. Right, your true soul mate.
Many people want to wait until they find the right match. The question is: how do you know you’ve found Mr. Right? Unfortunately, he won’t be wearing a sign on his sleeve. He might be the first man you date, but he might be number 3 or 4, or more.
There IS a little voice in your heart that will tell you with absolute confidence that “this is the one.” If this feeling is real, it won’t just be something you feel; it will be something you KNOW. You will know why you want to be united to this particular person for the rest of your lives.
Intentional dating is focused on helping you truly get to know the other person so you can determine whether you are meant for each other or not. The danger of any other type of dating (social, incidental, etc.) is the risk that your heart gets attached to a relationship that, from the beginning, cannot work out in the long run.
These are some questions that can help you determine whether a person might be your soul mate. If the answer to all of these questions is “yes”, and you feel a voice telling you “this is the one”, you’re probably right. If the answer to some of these questions is “no”, proceed very carefully with your affections, and even consider getting out of the relationship as soon as possible. If there’s an obstacle to having a successful marriage in the long run, continuing the relationship only gets your heart more attached and makes it harder to get out of later.
- What are your beliefs? His beliefs? Do you agree on the basics? If your faith means a lot to you, then agreeing on matters of faith can be very important. Differences in belief can be a great challenge when children come along – the spouses have to have agreed in advance which faith the children will be raised in; the spouse of the different faith has to respect that decision and support teaching something they disagree with to their children. Although it is possible to have a successful relationship even if your spouse differs in matters of belief, I personally believe it is ideal to have a spouse that shares your faith and beliefs in other key matters, due to the added challenges that arise when you differ.
- Is there anything essential standing between the two of you that could prevent your relationship from working out? Discuss important issues with your potential spouse from the beginning. These issues are closely related to beliefs, but deal more with practices and actions. For example: What you do both think about kids? Are you both open to life? What do you call “open” to life? What does your date call “open to life”? Do you mean the same thing? What do you both think about marriage? Do you both see it as a “no-turning-back”, lifetime commitment? What about marital relations? What are your beliefs and expectations and what are those of your potential spouse? Are you in harmony over your expectations? Do you have any other “non-negotiable” expectations or beliefs? What about your date? Have you discussed these, and are you in agreement about them?
- What are your ambitions? Your date’s ambitions? Do you share many of the same ambitions, and can you support each other in the ones you don’t share? It’s impossible for spouses to share all the same ambitions – you’re two different people, with at least some different talents and interests… But it’s important to respect and support each other in the different ambitions you have, since you will both be directing time and energy in that direction. If you don’t support each other’s ambitions, it’s too easy to get jealous or resentful of the time your spouse spends working toward ambitions you don’t support.
- What are your expectations of him and his expectations of you? Can you fulfill a good number of each other’s expectations and continue being comfortable with both yourself and him over the expectations you/he don’t conform to? A successful marriage must be based on mutual respect – you have to be able to love and appreciate each other as you are, without expecting each other to change. This means you have to be largely compatible in terms of your expectations so you aren’t constantly dissatisfied with the other. At the same time, to respect the other’s individuality, you have to be able to accept a number of traits that don’t conform to your expectations…
- Can you talk freely with this person? Can you trust him completely with your thoughts and emotions? Do you want him to be the one holding your heart? These aren’t romantic questions; they are very real. When you get married, you entrust a very real part of yourself to your spouse that you don’t give to anyone else, not only physically, but spiritually and mentally as well. If you feel like there’s anything you need to hold back because you don’t trust him enough, it isn’t a good sign (I’m not talking about the first time you meet him, but as you get to know him well and are seriously considering a lifelong relationship…).
- Do you want your children to be like this man? Would you be proud having this man standing next to you in any circumstances throughout life? These are good, all-round question to ask yourself when dating. They aren’t too specific, but examine your overall opinion of your prospective spouse. If you have any reservations about seeing his traits in your children, or having him with you at certain times, you need to give serious thought to your relationship to see if you should really continue forward or not…
Honest, open dialogue plays a key role in getting to know each other, but talking isn’t enough. You also need to experience who your date is by seeing him in different areas of his life. Watch him in his relationship with others, especially the women in his life. How does he treat his mother and sisters? Would you like to be treated that way? How seriously does he take his commitments, like work or study? This gives you insight into how seriously he will take other commitments like marriage. Is he a hard worker? Is he reliable? How does he react to the unexpected? You need to be with your prospective spouse in a wide variety of circumstances who he is in real life. You need to talk to him to know what he thinks of himself and who he wants to be.
Finally, a note about timing. A solid relationship is not a matter defined by time, but by true knowledge, understanding and love. It could take 6 months, 2 years or more, depending on the couple and how long it takes them to get to know each other in the things that matter. A lot is affected by how much time you spend with each other during the dating period, and how long it takes you to experience each other in different dimensions of life. Don’t rush it; the point is to make the right choice, not get married as soon as possible. Wait until you’re sure you know your potential spouse well enough to make the decision you want to make, even if that takes longer than you want. At the same time, don’t prolong it for no reason. Once you are sure, make a commitment and stick to it. Whether you’ve known someone for 6 months or 5 years, the same level of commitment is required.
- No matter how long you date, and how well you think you know your prospective spouse, both of you are going to grow and change after marriage. You will always need to keep getting to know each other and continue falling in love with each other over and over again.
- No matter how long you date, there are things you won’t discover about your spouse until after you’re married. Living with a person and sharing all aspects of your life with them will bring forward ideas, behaviors and emotions that didn’t come up during the dating period. This is normal. It’s impossible to get to know everything about a person until you fully share their life, and that doesn’t happen until you marry them. Marriage is the beginning, not the end. The dating period, whether short or long, is only important to the extent that it lets both of you get to know each other enough to know that you have really found your soul mate.
Yes, Eddy and I only knew each other for a short while before getting married, but when talking and thinking about our relationship, I don’t see the timing as the most important factor in our dating, but the fact that it was intentional dating; during that time, we got to know each other well enough to know what we were committing to and that we wanted to make the commitment. Several years later, I am even happier with our decision than I was then, and am very grateful to God for such a wonderful husband. I’m sharing our experience in hopes that it can help others know what to look for and how to find their soul mate as well.
A few years later…