The old saying about finding your spouse goes, “When you know, you know.” As a single person that can certainly be frustrating to hear! But as often as I rolled my eyes at that statement in the past, I am here to tell you: When you know . . . you know.
But ‘knowing’ can look different in different relationships, and it can take many different forms. One person may know instantly, while another may realize it a few months in. There is nothing more or less ‘right’ about instantaneous confidence in a relationship versus slowly growing in certainty.
It all comes down to allowing yourself to be exactly the person that brings you joy. Whether sports, cooking, theater, faith, or friends bring you joy—make time for those things. When you are openly living a life you love, someone is more likely to come into that life who will embrace your joy and embrace your self-reflective choices.
One very serious and arduous self-reflective choice that I made was with regards to my relationship with my mother. We always had a rocky relationship, but cut ties about five years ago. Various abusive outbursts from my mother over the years finally led me to call in authorities and file a domestic violence case against her. The night she was released from jail and unceremoniously returned home, led to me packing whatever I could fit into a backpack in the middle of the night, supervised by three police officers, and leaving for a hotel with my father and siblings.
Over the next couple of days, I collected some belongings that a neighbor had helped my mother throw out into the driveway and moved out of state. I moved away from my home of 14 years forever. In the following months, I struggled with nightmares, custody battles ensued, grief found my siblings, and the list goes on. But I knew that this was a truthful and protective step that I had to take for my own sake, and the sake of my family.
I had to break away and take time to build myself back up again. Cutting ties began a two or three year journey of personal reflection, therapy, and healing in order to move forward from a disordered past into a more joyful way of life.
During that journey, I remember three instances with three distinct guys who asked me, “When are you planning to rectify things with your mom?” Not do you plan to. Not are you thinking about. But When. A bit stunned, I would stutter, “Well, perhaps never, I have made positive changes on my end, but I would need to see significant improvement on her part as well.” And the conversation would trail off.
None of these men accepted the choices I was making to be my true and joyful self. I knew they were not who I was looking for.
A little over a year later I began talking to another man. I shared my story to which he responded, “That takes a lot of bravery and strength on your part. I’m sorry that ever happened to you.” A few months into what became a budding relationship, he added, “If you ever want to make a visit to your family, I’m happy to come with and support you.” He blew me away. He did not then and has never questioned my decision. He has trusted all along that I made a decision not only in my best interest but in the interest of my future spouse and family.
That man is now that future spouse and trusts me to thoughtfully consider his heart and sees strength in me despite my past. He embraced all of me, including the choice that I made. I know he can truly love me completely and forever. And that is how I “knew.” Two months from now, we will act on that certainty and will vow to give the rest of our lives to each other.