When I was in my early twenties, I asked a mentor of mine how I would know she’s “the one” when I met her.
He immediately answered, “Well that’s simple. Do you like her? Are you compatible? Is it the right time to get married? Then she’s THE ONE!”
I was a little annoyed that he took just four seconds to answer a question I had wrestled with for hours on end. It just seemed like he wasn’t taking it seriously.
And yet, the more I thought about his answer, the more free I felt. The answer to the question about “the one” was no longer an unanswerable riddle, a fantasy I had no idea how to make reality.
I didn’t meet my wife Kara until a couple years later, when we were introduced by a mutual friend. I didn’t just like her at the time, I fell in love. As we got to know each other I found out that we had more and more in common, from our shared values, to our desire to raise a family, to our love of travel.
Already we had the first two boxes checked, but what about the timing?
I knew that I wanted a future with Kara, and yet that was a pretty turbulent time in my life. I was just getting out of the Marine Corps, I didn’t have a career, or really know what I wanted my future to look like (I thought about trying to be a deep sea fisherman, probably because I was obsessed with The Deadliest Catch). Kara and I weren’t even living in the same city.
When marriage started to move from an idea to something we were really considering, I got a little nervous. We were talking about a life-long commitment here, a decision that would change my life forever.
For all those reasons, I was unsure about whether I was ready to take that plunge. It seemed to make sense to wait on any major relationship commitments. And yet, even though I didn’t know what my life was going to look like in a year, I knew that I wanted Kara to be a part of it.
I realized that I wanted to figure things out with her, not without her. I wanted and needed a companion who would be with me, through thick and thin, as we went through all of life’s adventures together. And I knew she was the one because I wanted to share all of that with her.
That’s when my mentor’s advice hit me with full force. I realized he wasn’t being dismissive of my question. Instead he was encouraging me to be bold, to be willing to take a risk. He encouraged me to be thoughtful for sure, and not rash, but he also encouraged me to trust myself, and to trust my ability to choose well—both for my sake and for hers. And it was the confidence he gave me that convinced me that Kara was “the one” and that I was ready for marriage.
Seven years later, I can confidently say that his advice was some of the best I’ve ever received. I certainly didn’t know all of what I was getting into (any married person would tell you the same), and yet I wouldn’t trade my marriage or my family for the world. Every day is an adventure into the unknown, and yet every day I experience a security that simply cannot be found outside of marriage.
I know that Kara and I are on this adventure together, no matter what. Ultimately, that is what convinced me that Kara is the one. Love doesn’t just happen to us, it’s something we do. I chose her, I asked her to be the one, and to my great joy she said yes!