“How do you know you are in love?” “How do you know for certain that he’s the right one?” The first time I was asked by one of my daughters, I had to seriously think about these questions, because I could not remember how I knew for certain that my husband was the right guy for me, which at this moment in time, seems so long ago.
One needs to acknowledge that there is a difference between actually “being in love” and “loving someone”. And, when one is serious about developing a relationship beyond the normal temporary ones that one might have in high school, college or the adult dating world, there is much more to think about beyond the physical attraction and the early infatuation that causes you to go crazy over someone, yet eventually becoming short lived.
But the question is “How does one really know they are in love?” To answer my daughters, and others who would ask, I share with them some very basic questions: How do you feel when you are with him, as well as when you are alone? Do you think of him during every waking moment? Does your relationship bring you joy and confidence or does it bring you down with a need to be strong? Is the relationship one-sided, where the passion you share overshadows their lack of passion? When you’ve been apart and rejoin together at the end of the day, does the embrace reflect your heart?
The next question is “How do I know he is right for me?” This question needs one to also think about how one wants to be treated, beyond the emotional, romantic stage. One needs to think about how they are currently being treated and whether it is how they would want to continue to be treated. Does he call you? Does he make you smile and feel good about who you are as a person? Does he value your morals? Does he respect you, your time and feelings? Do you consider him to be your very best friend that you can confide in and trust? Is the relationship one sided, where you are responsible for all the decisions and making all the adult choices, causing the relationship to be unbalanced? Is he able to be honest and open with his feelings so that you are able to honestly communicate with one another? Do you like how he treats his mother? Seriously think about this. If a guy has no respect for his mother, the one female who has been a major focus in his life, do you think he will have respect for you as time passes?
And although this list of questions might seem long, one last question I would ask is “Does he only spend time with you to have sex?” If that is the case, it’s time to take the drivers seat, open the passenger door, and let him walk. Okay, let me voice my real feelings on this…as you open the door, speed up a little and kick him out fast!! I’m not saying that physical attraction and physical needs are not important or not necessary, but they should not be the priority of ones relationship of spending time together. When you are in the position of making a decision as to whether you want to spend the rest of your life together, the soul reason should be based on more than the physical needs.
When deciding if someone is right for you, consider any emotional baggage that they might be carrying around. We all have baggage, but are they willing to talk things through, share what causes pain, willing to be transparent with you so that your relationship can continue to grow? Dishonesty and secrets are a breeding ground, that later grooms itself into another dysfunctional relationship. A dysfunctional childhood brought baggage to our relationship, but a commitment to stand by me while I worked my way through the healing process of forgiveness, made our relationship that much stronger. Not all baggage holders are able to rid themselves of the heavy load, which will carry itself into your future together.
In today’s society, where promiscuity is the norm (or so it seems), one is bound to ask, why is all this important? Some might even think that if I share this with my daughters, might I also be an over-protective mother who would never want her children to be married and enjoy the pleasures of life. But, to know me, you would find that I have a great deal of respect and trust for my daughters. I might not want to hear about some of the choices they might or have made, I also do not live in a cave. You would also discover that I adore my daughters with a desire that when they decide to settle down to be with the love of their life, that it is the one that they can grow old with, and with someone who provides the completeness we all need and desire. It is not only because of my values of marriage, but also as a result of what I have experienced in a relationship that has grown over the last 36 years. Yes, I will be married to the love of my life this May, for 33 years. It’s awesome!
But please don’t sit back and say, “Well, you were lucky”. A successful marriage is not about luck. It is about a relationship built on trust, companionship, devotion, dedication, respect and love, and a willingness to grow together. It is about going through the struggles in life together, and not being alone while the other watches. It is giving and taking in a manor that treats the other with respect. It is about commitment and honesty, with the ability to communicate openly about one’s feelings.
Thirty-three years of marriage has many wonderful memories, yet also memories I wish I never experienced, or been a part of. You see, despite my absolute love for my husband, we went through some trials. Should I say “some” or “many”? We had moments where we couldn’t stand being in the same room, had loud discussions of disagreement, proud moments of not wanting to give up on our own selfish needs in order to compromise for the need of the other. Only a few times (less than a handful) did we go to bed mad at each other, because the few times that we did, we were miserable the next day. Our tough times are overshadowed by all the great memories we have created together.
The temptations of the world are great! There are plenty of greener pastures with delightful eye candy for viewing. But love is not about the visual perception, but rather the inner core of what is within our heart. The majority of this world has baggage from childhood and adult relationships that have soured. It has dampened the ability for people to trust one another. But, even with baggage, a solid foundation of a life long true love can be found.
May love and respect be the breeding ground to a lasting marriage.