So you can imagine, living in Hawaii presents itself with lots of things to try between water sports, food, and adventures. But for some reason, I never could imagine myself surfing. So, I don’t surf.
However, I could imagine myself flying rescue helicopters over the deserts of Afghanistan, so I joined the Army and learned to fly.
I follow this principle in my relationships too, so when it came to marriage, I tried to imagine myself married. I would often ask myself, “What do I look like married?” My mind turned blank every time, and so following my rule, I decided that marriage probably wasn’t for me.
But I still thought if I was to get married, “the man of my dreams” would have a long list of requirements he would have to fill.
Now, looking back, I realize that I thought the list was going to keep me “safe” from dating–especially during high school and college because even though I had the occasional crush, “the list” always ended anything before it began.
Enter Eric, my now-husband. I was twenty-eight years old and had just started a career in the Army, and I came face-to-face with him during a combatives competition (the Army’s version of hand-to-hand combat). I had a pretty strong martial arts background, but these techniques were very different, and so after finding myself folded up like a pretzel multiple times by a guy three times my size, I wanted blood.
Eric was my next fight—not necessarily what you would call love at first sight. He walked up to the mat with a pleasant smile and a look in his eye that I interpreted as, “This should be easy.” The whistle blew, and I unleashed on Eric something like the fury of the Spartan 300 at the Battle of Thermopylae. I had held my own pretty well, but after a long equally grueling struggle, I lost the match.
After, Eric walked up to me and congratulated me on my tenacity! I had battered his ego in front of thirty other men, but there was not a single hint of wounded pride on his part. He was different.
Over the months that followed, Eric’s qualities continued to attract me. First, he met my list’s top three:
(1) His faith was in line with my faith.
(2) He was an excellent manager of money.
(3) He was unfailingly kind.
Additionally, he had healthy relationships with his parents and extended family. He got along with my family. He could cook and picked up after himself. He didn’t waste long hours in front of the TV, iPad, or video game console. He liked to read, cared about world events, and was a great conversationalist. He also treated everyone with equal attention and respect.
Not only did I fall in love with Eric, I fell in love with Eric’s character which produced in me an unshakable respect.
As our relationship grew, I began to imagine myself in marriage rather than just married. What did it look like to do life with a kind, compassionate, courageous, diligent, and, yes, flawed man? It looked pretty awesome. I began to prepare myself with some important questions: How will marriage grow my character? What issues need work on my end? Am I the right person for Eric? These questions changed me, and began to shape me in the type of woman who I could imagine married.
Finding a man whose character you whole-heartedly respect, a man you can trust to make life’s most important decisions—that is a man you don’t pass up. Eric and I will be married six years in just a few weeks. We love our life together, and as for my imagination, I can’t imagine life without him!