I clearly remember standing in front of everyone at the church on my wedding day, listening to the words of the minister: Have you come here freely, ready to give your lives to each other? Will you promise to remain faithful for as long as you live?
The questions excited me, but also made me nervous. I answered “yes” both times, but did I really know what I was doing? I was making some pretty lofty promises at the young age of 24. I truly believed Adam was the right man for me. But how could I really know that when he was the only man I had ever dated, kissed, or said “I love you” to?
A couple years ago someone asked me if I thought I’d ever regret not being in more romantic relationships. The question took me aback. In my eyes, more boyfriends would have meant more heartbreak, more wounds, more regrets. While I know that dating others is usually part of the process of finding the right one, I was able to give my husband and marriage the gift of zero baggage.
But did my lack of experience mean I wasn’t prepared or that I didn’t understand what I was committing to? How could I know what I was getting myself into?
First, I truly believe that it’s impossible to fully understand everything you’re committing to in marriage. I understand my commitment a lot more now than I did on my wedding day, and I’m sure I’ll understand it even more ten years from now.
It was not because no one was ever interested in me or because I never went out on a Friday evening that I didn’t have other boyfriends. No, I didn’t have other boyfriends because I knew what I was looking for in a potential husband, and I knew I was worthy of such a man. I believed that dating wasn’t just for fun, but to figure out if I wanted to spend the rest of my life with this man. I didn’t want a fleeting infatuation or lust. I wanted someone who believed that loving me meant wanting and working for what’s best for me.
So I waited. And waited. And waited some more. Really, I didn’t have to wait all that long, but to a young girl who watched peers date numerous guys, it felt like a long time. By the time Adam came along, I had also witnessed some very healthy and loving romantic relationships of close friends who eventually got married. Through talking with them and observing how they loved each other, I saw what commitment looks like.
You can’t practice the lifelong commitment of marriage, but you can prepare for it. For me, preparation meant only dating guys who were also looking for commitment and surrounding myself with couples who viewed commitment the same way I did. I’d argue that my lack of “experience” made me more ready for marriage once I met my husband.