I’ve taught high school for almost 18 years. The daily drama of #relationshipgoals ebb and flow with declarations of love only to be mirrored by strong statements of “Let’s just be friends.”
I smile every time I see another student grappling with “feelings” – and I’ve cried with plenty of kids whose hearts have been broken. High School and college are the practice fields for the championship game. That’s when everyone is figuring out who and what they want in a lifelong mate. And goodness knows, you don’t HAVE to have a boyfriend or girlfriend in high school (I wrote about that here).
I’m a storyteller, and I regale my captive classroom audience with dating and marriage stories, hoping some of it will be “caught”. My relationship with Brady is nowhere near perfect, but it is healthy – and he is perfect for me. Of course, I am often asked how I “knew” Brady was the one.
The bottom line answer is lots of prayer (and the fact that he loves Jesus more than anything else – Jesus ALWAYS trumps me). But there are other practical “no exceptions” reasons I knew Brady was my forever partner. They are by no means the only things to look for, but they are super important to look for before diving into the lifelong commitment of marriage.
- He/she seeks you out. You shouldn’t be the only one making the effort to grow or nurture the relationship. If you’re the only one calling, texting, or reaching out, that’s a red flag. It should be a mutual effort to know one another. On more than one date, Brady had lists of questions to ask me about my heart. Early on, I knew he cared about me and wanted to know more about me.
- He/she has friends other than you. Relationships often become “exclusive”, and all other friends drop off the radar. Even though you will be one another’s best friend, you always need other people in your life. It’s unhealthy to be just the two of you on your own planet of “love”. Brady and I often made intentional time with our friends – apart from one another. We still do.
- “Cleaving and leaving” happens. If you are seriously considering marrying someone, it should be apparent that the husband/wife relationship will be more important than the existing bond with parents. It’s biblical (Genesis 2:24). Don’t expect everything to happen all at once – it can be a process – but you need to see that your future mate will value you and your new position in his/her heart. The family relationship will tell you a lot about how YOUR relationship will be valued.
- He/she has an opinion other than yours. Brady was one of the first guys I dated who didn’t always agree with me. That was important. I once had a friend who told me that she and her husband never had a fight. I looked at her, shocked, and said, “Well, then, someone isn’t telling the truth.”
- But make sure you agree on the big stuff. I am a strong proponent for marrying someone with similar morals and values. This is a lifetime commitment, and your faith, your thoughts on moral and ethical issues, need to match up. Not only were Brady and I raised similarly, we had pre-marital counseling that helped us recognize those values and talk them out even before we got married.
- We can work it out. When you do disagree, you’re both willing to compromise and come to the table. You can have conversations about difficult things. The closer you get to the possibility of “the one”, the more you should go deep and breach the “real stuff.” I don’t keep secrets from Brady, and he doesn’t keep secrets from me.
- You can totally let it all out. Does your boyfriend/girlfriend love you when you’re sweaty, dirty, gross, smelly, puking…the list could go on. Because marriage is like cracking open Pandora’s box. You can’t close the door of the bathroom and spray some air freshener to hide the smell. You’ll be in that same space. The first time Brady told me I looked “hot” in my sweatpants, well, I knew he was a contender. Can you be yourself at your worst?
- He/she tells the TRUTH, the WHOLE TRUTH, and NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH. Lying about small things can mean lying about big things. Are you honest with one another? I always take Brady clothes shopping with me. He wants me to look my best, so he tells me the truth – in love. But he has always had full disclosure with me about his struggles, his heart, and his past. We are protecting our marriage by being honest about it – and we did that before we got married.
- Talk about expectations. “Roles” and “responsibilities” often end up being the source of hurt and harm in a new marriage. If you’re considering marrying someone, it’s important to chat about what roles (who pays the bills, who cleans the house, etc.) each person could possibly have – and how both parties feel about those roles. This can honestly be a #5 issue – because if you want to be a stay-at-home mom and your possible husband disagrees entirely and wants you to work, that’s something you need to address. Early on, Brady and I discussed roles – and were on the same page before we were even engaged.
- Don’t marry someone you can live with, marry someone you can’t live without. When I was in high school, my mom found this quote and gave it to me. I put it on my bulletin board and never forgot it. I don’t know who said it, but it has stuck with me all these year. I watch too many people settle because they think time is running out or they don’t deserve better. NOT TRUE. This is a life decision that shouldn’t be made just because time is ticking.
There are so many things to consider when choosing someone for life, but these ten were a big part of my decision to marry Brady. We’ve had hiccups, but ultimately we made the CHOICE to love one another. To stay no matter what (check out the “Choose to Stay” chapter in my book). It’s a big decision not to be taken lightly.
And I’m so glad I chose Brady.
SUPER IMPORTANT NEWS! My book, Choose: An Invitation to the Best Day Ever Adventure launched on October 10, 2017! Based on the John 10:10 idea that Jesus came so we can have life to the FULL, each of the 21 chapters has a challenge, a choice, and a change for YOU to live the Best Day Ever Adventure Jesus has for YOU! I hope you’ll grab it on Amazon!
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