“When you know, you know.”
This is perhaps the most frustrating thing to hear when you’re dating someone and wondering if it could be headed toward marriage. Yet, nobody seems to have an answer for knowing when you’ve found “the one,” and Google is no help when articles just tell us to look for signs like being so obsessed with someone that you can’t sleep or eat.
And to complicate things, where did we ever get the idea that there’s only one person in the universe you’re destined to marry? It’s a nice romantic ideal, but could get us into trouble if we buy into it too deeply and then use it as an excuse when things aren’t working out: i.e., we’re experiencing conflict and challenges, so I must not have found “the one.”
Better instead to think of finding “the one” as a prayerful and thoughtful mutual process by which we commit to a life-long relationship with one, single person. We find “the one” when that process leads a couple to mutually vow faithfulness to one another “until death do us part.”
Of course, no couple is the same and there is no magic formula for suddenly figuring out if your S.O. is the one you should marry, but it might shed some light to hear about the experiences of others who have found the one they committed to for life. I spoke with a group of men about the moment when they realized they had found the woman they knew they’d marry, and this is what they told me.
We were long-distance friends who had met at a wedding and were getting to know each other over the phone. One afternoon we talked for four hours, and when I hung up I thought, “We have so much in common, I could totally see myself marrying this girl.” We started dating and a few months later, I was realizing that more and more we were on the same page in all the important ways. We had a lot of ups and downs, but I kept coming back to this realization that we “fit” well together and that we called each other on to be better. She brought me real joy, but more than that, she called me to be a better man and it made me want to grow in holiness so that I could bring her to a deeper holiness.
For me, I would say there were many little moments along the way that culminated. I remember before we started dating thinking, “If there ever was a ‘one’ it would be her.” One time, I was stressed about writing a paper, and she surprised me with this perfectly made quesadilla. I guess there’s some truth to that saying “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach” because that quesadilla made me want to marry her. But my biggest question was, “Is this what God wants me to do?” Before I asked her dad’s permission, I went to pray and experienced a deep and immediate peace upon receiving the Eucharist that really confirmed and sealed the deal for me.
No matter what, life is going to be hard. With that in mind, the moment I realized that my wife was “the one” was when I realized that no matter what, life was the best with her, and it just wasn’t the same without her. Every bad day I had, I wanted to talk to her about it. Every trip I went on without her, I wished she was there. Every fun time we shared together, I didn’t want to share it with anyone but her. And yes, even every disagreement we had, I was glad that it was with her and not someone else. So when you find that girl, marry her.
I first realized I was going to marry my then-girlfriend after we had to go through long-distance. When we first started dating, I had trouble with the idea of anyone being “the one,” and honestly was pretty skeptical of anyone’s ability to reach that level of certainty. However, being physically apart with nothing but a phone line between us forced me to listen, engage, forgive, and communicate on a whole new level. For so many reasons, it would have been easier to call our relationship off, but something kept us fighting to stay together despite the struggle. Every argument, every resolution, and every day of renewed commitment to holiness brought us closer to each other in a more mature way than if we had been physically together. After that separation, as much as I hated to admit it, I knew she was “the one.”
I met my wife when she transferred to my university. I saw her walk out of her parents’ van after a 20-hour road trip and I looked at my friend and said: “I’m going to marry this girl.” Fast forward a month later and we were dating. The moment I knew I wanted to marry her was actually when we were broken up for a month. The thing that I wanted the most was for her to be happy and that she was following God’s will. During that month apart I told God that if it was his will to take her away from me, I had to completely let go. It was the hardest thing I ever had to do, yet it had the greatest reward because after I let go of her, God gave her back to me. I knew at that moment that God was calling us to marriage.