Before I got married, my mind would spin when I thought about how on earth I would know who to marry. When I spoke about my dating life and that I didn’t know if I had met “the one” people would always tell me “you just know when you know.”
I’m here to tell you first-hand, that for me, it was a BIG FAT LIE. You don’t always just “know when you know.”
I’m not necessarily proud of the fact that I dated a lot, but I’m not ashamed of it either. It taught me SO much about boys, myself, my values, and people in general. I feel like I have the credibility to speak about dating and also the topic of choosing who to marry based on experiences in my own life.
Let’s back it up a few years to when I got to college and had my first serious college boyfriend. Let’s call him Tim for the sake of the story. This was different than any other relationship I had in the past. I was living 100 miles away from home, had no rules, no parental supervision, and no limits. The best part was our “open relationship” so I had the ability to date boys I met in college.
Approximately one and a half years passed and Tim was still part of my life. I had gone on dates with countless boys in-between, but none lasting more than a few dates. If it ever escalated far enough, I would kindly let the boys know I was also dating someone else. That usually led to an ultimatum and I would always choose Tim. I would spend hours praying and pondering if Tim was the one.. because after all, we had dated for almost two years. We were comfortable. We became companions. We would do homework and eat dinner together. Go grocery shopping and run errands. We did everything a married couple would do together so I wondered if that meant we should get married. He would spoil me and spend money on me, he would cook for me and take care of me. He always made me his priority and told me how much he loved me. He told me he had a confirmation from God that I was the one.
I continued to be open with him and tell him I was praying about it too. I felt pressure because he already had his confirmation. He would tell me that as soon as I was ready, he would marry me. I felt like I was holding his fate in my hands.. and if I didn’t marry him, I would have wasted so much of his time, especially because he was nearing his late twenties.
Even more time passed and I continued to pray. I didn’t have a definitive “no” but I also didn’t have peace. I had so many things sueding my decision in different directions– like my parents and my friends– but I didn’t feel right about either of them. There were things about Tim that I wasn’t sure I could live with in the future but there were also things I loved about him that I feared I would never find again.
I would cut things off and let a few months pass… but somehow Tim and I ended up together again. I thought it was a “sign” like maybe I couldn’t live without him. But now I realize it was my fear of getting out of my comfort zone and not having that safety net getting in the way of me fully moving on.
As I started to pursue my dating life, I started to put Tim more and more in the background. I started to realize that the Spirit and my heart weren’t pulling me toward marrying him. I started to feel calm and at peace with my decision. It wasn’t all at once, or even over the course of a few weeks or months that this happened. To be honest, the Spirit may have been pulling me away the whole time but I wanted to believe otherwise.
It’s been years since all of that happened with Tim, and I know with all of my heart that I made the right decision. He has since been married and is no longer practicing the religion I thought he was a strong part of. I’m sure he is happy and I wish the best for him.
Now, I’m not sharing this story to rant on and on about how I didn’t marry someone I spent years invested in. I am sharing this novel.. as it seems.. to tell how I did decide to get married.
Ironically enough, as I let the door to Tim close, millions of doors opened. I started dating and having the time of my life, meeting boys and new friends around every corner. I was thriving in school getting 4.0s and starting to gain an even stronger testimony in my church. I had new job opportunities and I finished my degree in college. I started to pray that I would be spiritually prepared and ready for when I met my husband– not wanting to rush anything of course.
Between all of that, I met Braden. We started to casually date and after a few months it turned into a serious relationship. “Okay,” I thought to myself, “I’ve dated plenty of men and I’m sure this one will be fun while it lasts.” Time went on and I started to wonder if it was a coincidence or if timing was really that perfect. I wondered if I should pray about marrying him or if that was just plain “weird.” I figured he’s not getting any younger, as he was already 27 and I didn’t want to waste his time if it wasn’t right. So I prayed, and prayed and asked God if I should marry him.
I didn’t get an answer.
I didn’t feel much of anything. I mean, I knew I loved Braden and he had so many qualities I wanted in a future husband. He is a hard worker, extremely adventurous, so much fun, always happy, an amazing caretaker, spiritual, and so sweet. Amidst it all over the course of the next few months, I remembered an old church lesson about prayer. When generally praying, God puts it in our hands to make a decision. He will support your decision with a feeling of peace and comfort, or he will warn you with a stupor of thought or a wary feeling.
I was nervous, but I decided to make a decision and give my prayer a shot. I had doubts, I had worries, I was scared. But, I had a feeling of peace. I felt like Heavenly Father was trusting me and comforting me in my decision. I kept waiting for the feelings that I had when I prayed about Tim, but they never came. I prayed about it every night for a few weeks and I had the same comfort each time. I wondered if what I was feeling was my desires or God’s will. I decided to talk to authorities in my church and people I trusted, I told them how I was feeling and they gave me advice that just solidified my feelings from Heavenly Father.
I was going to marry Braden.
But, it wasn’t a “you know when you know” type thing. I didn’t know, I had to continuously pray and ponder. I love Braden with all my heart and I wouldn’t have it any other way, but I’m confident that I could have had the same feelings if I chose another righteous man. Even after I had a feeling of peace, I had doubts. I was worried about every. little. thing.
I will be the first to admit that up until I was married, and even after, I would wonder.. “Did I make the right decision?” But when I pray and when I reflect upon why I chose Braden, it’s confirmed once again, that Heavenly Father supported my decision.
I wrote this partly for me to get my thoughts on paper (figuratively) and also for those who are contemplating marriage. It is one, if not THE biggest life decision you will ever make and I wanted to share that it’s not as easy as some may say. You may not “know when you know” or you just might. For me, and many other women, it took a lot of time and a lot of prayer to figure out if we were on the right path. If any of you find yourself feeling the same way I felt with Tim, you’re not alone. You will get through it and you will find someone you love more than you ever could have imagined.