When I talk to friends looking for dating advice, I often talk about the need make it clear where you think the relationship is and where you want it to go. If I’m honest though, I could have used that advice when I first started dating the woman who would become my wife.
I still remember the night we became “official.” It was a warm Thursday night, and we had just finished meeting with our local youth group. Jenn and I decided to go on a short walk together downtown. Our hands happened to intertwine as we made our way down the street. Several moments passed until Jenn broke the silence:
Jenn: “The people from group are going to be wondering if we are dating when they drive by…”
Jenn: “So…what are you thinking?”
Me: “Well, I guess we should make it official”
Very romantic, I know. Looking back on that moment, I am extremely grateful to my wife for the gentle nudge.
I shared her desire to move things forward, but I was not very good about getting the relationship started in the beginning. As I’ve written previously, I knew the importance of defining the relationship. I wanted to make sure I was certain before making clear commitments to her. Proceeding with caution was my way of treating her with care and compassion.
We would regularly check with each other on where we thought the relationship stood. The concept of checking in is particularly hard for men, I think. It forced me to talk about my feelings, which I rarely like doing. These check-ins were important as well because with each talk, we gave each other permission to be a little more open with each other.
These conversations culminating in a talk we had in a Chipotle parking lot (again, super romantic). As we sat there in the dark, bloated from our burritos, we both agreed that we wanted this relationship to be “it.” That moment opened a spot in our hearts that I don’t think we had really given to anyone else.
I talk about defining the relationship as if it’s a moment. But it’s something you do throughout the lifetime of a relationship. I hope that even as Jenn and I grow old together, we continue defining who we are and where we stand in relation to each other.