I was panicking. The man I had been dating was sure that he wanted to marry me. But I was nowhere near that certainty, and I knew if the final result was that we went our separate ways, I shouldn’t put my decision off (at least as a favor to him).
I loved him, I did. I wanted him to be happy and I wanted the same for my own future. But I didn’t know if it was right for us. I was happy with him and I pictured happiness with him for the future, but I also had a vivid imagination of what could happen. I knew his weaknesses and flaws. The question was, Could I look past them for eternity? Or worse, would looking past mine for that long be possible for him?
I had a hard time making big decisions and this was no different. That emotions were involved at all gave me a harder time trusting both myself and Logan. I had been engaged before, had felt all the lovey dovey feelings and, quite frankly, had let those feelings blind me to things I knew deep down I couldn’t live with—just to have both his and my own time wasted and our hearts broken in the end.
Once, while thinking about marriage that first time, I heard one of my family members say that you have to date a large enough variety of people to know yourself and what kind of person you like best. “Date at least 31 people so you will know your favorite,” he had said. It was the Baskin-Robbins approach to dating, and I was convinced of the idea’s wisdom. (Looking back, the funny thing is, whenever I went to a place like Baskin-Robbins I took forever to decide on a flavor and I was always in a different mood, anyway.)
With Logan, I was happy where we were dating, I was comfortable. Staying that way would have been easy: I wouldn’t have had to dig into the chasms of my biggest fears and deepest desires and make the biggest decision of my life. If I didn’t face the question of marriage with Logan, I would not have had to confront the shadowy stigmas and baggage that my past had cast in front of me. I would have just kept sailing along. But because of his sure feelings, and because I really loved him, I felt a huge amount of self-inflicted pressure to decide ASAP if I wanted to spend eternity with him or not. This brought the heat—and the panic accelerated.
“You need to date other people,” I told him
“Not happening,” he’d tell me.
“I found a girl that is perfect for you.”
“No, she’s not .”
“Just give her a shot. You need to know for sure you like me, and you can’t possibly know with how little dating experience you have.”
It sounds crazy, but those words really came out of my mouth. I was convinced that with the conflicting feelings I had-—despite having dated a ton-—he couldn’t possibly be sure about marriage having had so little dating experience. I wanted to speed things along to have us figure it out.
Thankfully, his answers remained unchanged. He continued to have patience even as I voiced similar crazy ideas. He even continued to have patience when I insisted on going on dates with other guys, trying to break up with him. (I didn’t want to mislead the people I was dating.) But he was constant, filled with faith in me and in a future together, throughout all of the back and forth I gave him.
And frankly, his steadfastness anchored me. I had gone my whole life moving and changing my mind like a tumbleweed and he helped me see a need for roots. His steady response to my insanity gave me comfort. He loved me even as I put him and our relationship through torture. He never once suggested or hinted that we should give up; he just watched and waited.
Now, we look back at that time and laugh. I actually love recalling that season of our dating: Because it is the first time I recognized his ability to help me calm down, the first time he provided that firm pillar to me. I still smile at the patience he demonstrated. He was my constant then, and still is today. That is what I really needed in a marriage, and I believe it is largely what marriage and families are for. It is only when we are rooted that we grow.