It’s a question that I get asked a lot. . . how do I know that the person I am with is “the one?”
I wish there were an easy, fail-proof checklist I could give people who ask me this question; it would make both of our lives a lot simpler. The truth is that there are no hard and fast rules on how to determine if the person you are with is the right choice for marriage. At the same time, there are a few guidelines that you can keep in mind while drawing your final conclusion.
Your choice in a spouse is one of the most important decisions you will ever make. It’s also one of the few that so greatly impacts the rest of your life. It’s no wonder that people are concerned with knowing if they are with the right person.
Pray about it
While some people debate over whether there is really one person we are intended to be with, my theory is that God does have someone in mind for us. Marriage is a God thing, and I believe that He designed someone uniquely for us and us for him/her to fulfill His purpose for our lives here on earth. Is it possible to have a connection, attraction, compatibility, or the ability to make it work with more than one person during a lifetime? Sure. We see that in our dating lives. But, at the end of the day, I sincerely believe there is only one person God created for us to be with that is the “perfect” match for us to serve out our calling in this life.
That being said, no matter what you believe regarding the existence of there being what some call a “soul mate,” it is absolutely essential to pray over your relationship. God is your best resource for attaining the answers and wisdom you need and seek. Talk to Him about your hopes, dreams, desires, but earnestly seek after what His will is for your life. It’s easy to ask God to give us what we want, but make sure to ask and be willing to pursue what He wants for us. He knows us better than we know ourselves, so His plan and will is always the perfect one. Jeremiah 29:11 says, ” ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’ ’’
Seek His will, ask for His direction and wisdom, and be willing to accept whatever that is. That takes faith, a listening ear, and a true understanding of and belief in His promises and Word.
Seek Godly Counsel
God gives us our support system to help us navigate the journey of life. Everyone’s situation is different, but most of us have a family member, friend, spouse or significant other, or pastor that we can go to for some godly advice. It’s important to have people around us that are trustworthy, have a relationship with Christ, and honest.
When it comes to figuring out if the person you are with is the right fit for you, seek out the advice of the godly people in your life. Ask them what their thoughts, advice, and concerns are regarding your relationship. Outsiders often have a clearer, less obstructed view of how things really are. When we are the ones in the relationship, we can be clouded by our emotions making it difficult to objectively assess the situation for what it is. Proverbs 20:18 says to “make plans by seeking advice.” In Proverbs 15:22 it states that “plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” If you are planning your future with someone, it’s the perfect time to seek out the wisdom of trusted people in your life that love you and are looking out for your best interest.
One of the biggest problems that plague relationships is a lack of honesty. Both parties are often on best behavior, which is fine, but at times it is taken to the point of dishonesty. Instead of being an authentic version of themselves, they pretend to be who they think that special guy or gal wants them to be.
The problem is that the relationship is them built on false pretenses. At some point the best behavior goes out the window because it’s impossible to keep up a façade for a lifetime. What happens many times is that couples put on this false identity until after the wedding day, and both parties awaken to a very different relationship than they thought they would. It’s as if two strangers got married, and there is this sense of shock, disappointment, and anger toward one another because they didn’t really know who they were marrying.
It’s absolutely essential to be honest and the “real” you when dating. That is the only way to know if you are truly a good fit for one another. Otherwise you are just setting yourself and your relationship up for failure. Be honest with your significant other about who you are, what your interests, dreams, beliefs, preferences and aspirations are, and what you are looking for in a relationship. That also requires you to be honest with yourself about those very same things. Create the space and freedom for your significant other to be honest with you too, so that through that, you both can make an decision about your future based on reality and truthfulness.
While euphoric emotions that make us feel like we are floating through the world on a cloud of bliss is nice, it’s not a premise for marrying someone. Emotions come and go, which is why we have to push beyond them to get to the heart of the matter. Are you and the person you are dating a good match?
The best way to start answering that question is to start asking questions. Explore your interests, hopes, goals, beliefs, etc. Ask questions like:
Asking questions is the only way to get the much needed answers. Often times if you start having these types of conversations, it become clear if you and your significant other are on the same page. Of course there will be differences in your answers, but it’s making sure that those differences are still compatible and adaptable in a way that the two of you can build a future together. Plus, it makes you aware of some of the challenges you may face in your relationship or marriage by knowing areas you differ on. Having in-depth, honest conversations about an array or topics is one of the best ways to sort through the emotions and find yourself with the reality of your compatibility.
Preparation is such an important part of a successful marriage as well as the process of deciphering if the person you are with is the one you want to spend the rest of your life with. There are so many resources (like the one you are viewing now) that are available to help guide you through the various premarital stages of life.
Books are one of the cheapest and best ways to start educating yourself on the numerous aspects of relationships and marriage. One of my favorite books to recommend for couples who are dating is Things I Wish I’d Known Before We Got Married by Dr. Gary Chapman, but there are a ton of other books all out there waiting for you to pick them up and dive right in. Literature is a fantastic means of preparing yourself and your relationship for the future.
If you are in a serious relationship that is moving toward marriage, I would encourage you to premarital counseling or therapy. Professionals can sit down with you and help you objectively assess the health of your relationship, work on problematic areas, equip you with tools to manage the challenges you will encounter, and help make sure that you are prepared for marriage. I have yet to meet a couple that did premarital counseling or therapy that didn’t find it invaluable.
There are many, many resources out there that can help guide you in your quest for a fulfilling marriage, so it’s just a matter of taking the time and making the effort to utilize them.
As I started out saying, there is no magical checklist or equation that can definitively decide if the person you are with is the right choice for you. It’s a combination of prayer, wisdom, wise counsel, honesty, asking questions, and preparing yourself that can help lead you to finding that answer.
• Also see Marriage Preparation
Copyright © 2012 by Ashley McIlwain. Used with permission
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Ashley McIlwain, M.A., is a Marriage and Family Therapist, speaker, and writer. She is the founder and C.E.O. of the non-profit organization, Foundation Restoration, and blog LittleWifey.com, which are comprehensive resources committed to restoring the very foundation of society – marriage. She is committed to and passionate about helping relationships thrive. In the past Ashley acted as Managing Editor for StartMarriageRight.com where she helped launch and develop the website into a hub for premarital preparation. Ashley holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Palm Beach Atlantic University and a master’s degree in Clinical Psychology with a specialization in Marriage and Family Therapy from Azusa Pacific University. Currently she and her husband, Steve, reside in Southern California.