Shortly after my fiance Ben and I decided to take a break from our engagement, a divorced co-worker of mine told me something that tied my stomach in a knot.
“In retrospect,” he said, “I should have seen it coming. I didn’t learn anything about my ex-wife during our marriage that I didn’t already know from the first time we went out.”
That was terrifying to hear. Even though I had initiated the engagement hiatus to allow myself time to find certain answers, I loved Ben and I knew we were both rooting for our relationship. And yet, nothing about our relationship seemed like it had come easily. Our first date had been awkward and subdued, and sometimes I felt that we were just too different to make things work.
I had always believed that, when “The One” came along, I’d have some unmistakable sign — or at least a good gut feeling — to clue me in that I’d found my soul mate. Faced with ambiguity and uncertainty, I felt cheated
Did the fact that I was still struggling with my doubts mean we weren’t meant to be? Shouldn’t love make the details just fall into place?
Fast-forward three-and-a-half years to the present, and Ben and I are blissfully married with an infant daughter we adore. Our marriage is still very young, and I know we will face seasons of strife and frustration. But on the whole we thoroughly enjoy one another, laugh together often, and love living side-by-side.
Since the day we stood at the altar, I haven’t once revisited the doubts that troubled me when we were dating. Unquestionably, this man is the one with whom I belong.
It’s important to say that we didn’t just roll the dice and decide to get married, hoping it would end up okay. We got counseling from people in our church who we trusted and advice from friends and family. We had lots of long conversations and forced ourselves to hash out disagreements and talk about future fears. We prayed about our relationship, and had others pray for us.
When I finally did walk down the aisle, I knew a few important things. I knew we were willing to make sacrifices for each other and to acknowledge our flaws and work on them. I knew that we could forgive each other and seek forgiveness without fear. I knew we were committed to getting help from those we trusted when our marriage was in trouble. I knew we were both in it for life, no reservations.
When my girlfriends seek advice about relationship uncertainty, I never tell them to ignore their gut feelings. I still think that can be an important indicator that something is wrong.
What I’ve learned, though, is that nobody is guaranteed a neon sign or a Disney montage that announces that they’ve found The One. Not all love stories begin with a meet-cute in New York City and unfold like a ‘90s romantic comedy. Many are much simpler and subtler than that.
In the end, I’m glad I wasn’t immediately sure my husband was The One. It gave him the chance — many chances — to prove that he was.
Flickr/ Kat Northern Lights Man