How did you know your spouse was “the one”?

iStock 000006036102XSmall1 How did you know your spouse was the one?I frequently get emails from young Christians asking for advice about choosing a spouse. They have questions like:

  • “Was there one specific moment when you knew you were ready to get married? If so, what was the final factor in feeling sure?”
  • “Did you ever wonder if you were making a mistake?”
  • “Did you feel 100% certain that he was ‘the one’?”

Unfortunately I don’t think I’m the best person to give advice on this subject, since prayer, God and faith didn’t factor into my decision at all. I have a great marriage, but my prayer-less discernment process isn’t one I’d recommend to others. For what it’s worth, I’d say that I “just knew.” Though, for those looking for something more concrete, I’d say that the following three factors were important in that decision-making process:

  1. Our relationship got better over time, not worse.
  2. We handled disagreements well. Though we didn’t argue often, when we did see things differently, we could work it out without things getting nasty.
  3. I couldn’t imagine life without him. To paraphrase something I once heard a priest say at a friend’s wedding, it wasn’t just that I could imagine spending the rest of my life with my then-boyfriend, but that I couldn’t imagine not spending the rest of my life with him.

I think that all of those factors are good for anyone to consider, but I’d like to offer my young readers some practical advice from a faith-based perspective as well. So I’m going to turn this one over to you:

I’d love for those of you who are married to share your wisdom: What practical tips do you have for prayerful discernment for choosing a spouse? How did you know your spouse was “the one”?

P.S. Today is our seventh wedding anniversary! Click here to read a post about how our marriage has changed since our conversions.

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Enter the Conversation...

104 Responses to “How did you know your spouse was “the one”?”
  1. Ciska says:

    Best wishes on your anniversary!
    I love your short list, they make a lot of sense. I would love to read some input from you readers on this topic.

  2. Erin says:

    Hi Jennifer,

    My story for what its worth.
    Prayerful discernment, from the age of 13 I prayed three Hail Marys every night for my purity and for my future spouse’s purity. I well remember a period around the age of 16 when I was ‘plagued’ by very strong feelings to pray very constantly for him. Even in the playground. Later I discovered these were times when he really needed those prayers (he is 4 years older than me) I also graduated to praying for his family.

    So how did I know ‘he was the one’? Well I confess to being rather a tunnel vision person at the time, I had a list! Blushing now, still the list was good;) didn’t bother even dating anyone unless he made the list. Only ever did find one guy to fit ‘the list';)
    1. Must be practising Catholic
    2. Must have ‘open to life’ mentality
    3. Must be open to homeschooling (I told you I had tunnel vision;)

    But how did I know he was ‘the one’ besides the list, because well lists are all very good, but there are other guys out there who could have fit the list, so why him?

    Truthfully the other ingredient, ‘passion’, yep good old passion.
    Spent alot of time in the Confessional asking for Graces to get through that time period, but without passion you are missing an essential ingredient.

    Yes there were lots of other factors that played a part; he respected women, he came from a large family and loved children, he could communicate(very important one that!) was a thinker, lots of factors that were important to me.

    I prayed alot, we both did, for discernment, we just knew, had a very strong reassurance from God. Couldn’t imagine life without one another.

    Well don’t know if you wanted all this detail.

    Wishing you a very Happy Anniversary, 7 years, awesome!

    • Bill says:

      Wow. Such wisdom/faith at such an early age!

    • I think a list (yours was short) is a great idea- it helps us stay on track with our priorities. There are plenty of nice non-Catholics, but you decided (as I did) not even to go to coffee with a non-Catholic- I didn’t want to be distracted from my goal. I just was surprised with how God fulfilled my list- Great Catholic was at the top of my list- God presented a Byzantine Catholic man from a different continent than I who was going to be a priest- it will be 13 years of marriage in May :)
      priest’s wife recently posted..Being Byzantine Catholic 7 Quick Takes

    • Lacey says:

      Hey Erin,
      Just had to comment on your post as my journey was very similar to yours (I had the ‘Big 3′ things on the list too, passion and your ‘other factors’ paragraph perfectly describes my husband to a T!)

    • Diana says:

      I also have the same list… it has gone down over the years (from about 20 bullets when i was 16) to exactly those 3! At one point I though I was called to religious ife then I’ve become more convicted that my vocation is marriage oh over the past year or so, and I pray daily for my spouse and I’ve recenly started a 54 rosary novena for his life and protection.
      Diana recently posted..Sr Sturmia has gone home…

  3. I was engaged to an atheist/agnostic, and after that fell apart I created an “ideal man” list, which included Catholic (b/c I knew I wanted to share faith) and “man” (because “guy” no longer cut it). I met Christian soon after, but both of us were coming off very committed relationships, and we both proceeded to freak out. Back and forth, one or the other, for four years. For me, at least. He got over his in a couple of years, but I was terrified of screwing up God’s plan for me, and I kept letting doubt in. In fact, I was still freaking out on my wedding day. So in that case, I guess you could say I never actually “knew,” if by “know” you mean absolute certainty that banishes all doubt. For me, getting married was a leap of faith. But eleven years later, I thank God for helping me take the plunge.
    Kathleen@so much to say, so little time recently posted..Weekend Carnivals

  4. Susan says:

    Jen,

    I was pondering yesterday at how amazed I still am that I am so happily married, even after 18 years, infertility, a failed double adoption, a successful triple adoption and all the normal other troubles. The one thing I would say that made me know he was the one was that he was, and is, the most fascinating person I had ever met. He was also open to a big family, and homeschooling. When I knew he was getting ready to propose, I was praying fervently for confirmation and found the verse in Deuteronomy that talks about life and death, blessings and curses, and concludes with “choose life.” And that’s what we did then and continue to do now.

  5. Mandy says:

    Although I am not Catholic, but in fact Baptist, I thoroughly enjoy your insights. :-)

    I had a similar process as Erin’s. I had a list, but everyone (sometimes even I) doubted that I would ever find someone with standards set so high. I called it more of a “wish list” than an actual “requirement list,” because it seemed that to expect so much of someone was unrealistic. Still, I asked God to provide someone like this for me (in no particular order):

    *One who had never had another girlfriend (crushes were okay).
    *One who loved God and came from a Christian home (preferably Baptist so that we’d be on the same page, spiritually).
    *One who shared similar interests and my desire to serve God.
    *One who shared my passion for purity before marriage.
    *One who had never been kissed.
    *One who would be “the one” – I wanted my first boyfriend to be my last and only, and he would know that if he “officially became my boyfriend” it would be because we were very serious about being together.

    I prayed for him before I knew him and asked God to help us both to stay pure. Not that I didn’t believe that God could provide someone like this for me, but I wondered if there were any guys out there who could possibly fit this criteria. Even I wondered if I was asking for too much. But since I felt the items on my “wish list” were things that God would approve of and even perhaps want for me, I always desired them even if I despaired of ever finding someone like that. It was like I was saying “God, this is what I really want, but I’ll understand if there’s no one like this available for me.”

    Long story short, I met my husband (our 4th anniversary is this Thursday!!!) through mutual friends and common Christian interests and we began getting to know each other as friends via the internet. He lived 800 miles away, but met all my wish list items. At this point I wondered how anything could come of us because I value family closeness very strongly and could not imagine leaving my family and my home of 20 years. He, on the other hand, had lived in several different cities and multiple states. He valued family as well, but his family was not very involved with extended family, and he fell in love with my state when he came to visit. He also (apparently) fell in love with me and voluntarily moved to be closer to me. I can’t tell you how much that meant to me, because no one had ever done anything like that for me. He has been exactly what I needed in life, and I could not ask for a better husband. :-)

    One last thing I will say – as a teen, I always heard adults saying “you’re only ___ years old, you don’t understand love.” That would always make me so mad because I’d think “how do they know what I feel. Each person’s experiences and feelings are different.” I never realized exactly what people meant when they said “you don’t know what love is” until I got married. There are things about love that only marriage can teach you. My mother called me one day, about 2 years ago, and near the end of our conversation she asked me something about my husband and if I loved him. The way I replied (in the affirmative, of course!) made her say “I’m glad you finally fell in love with him.” It took me a moment to understand exactly what she meant, but I really do now. People think that love is something instantaneous, but in reality, it’s something that has to develop over time. It happens at different speeds for different people, but it still doesn’t happen overnight. You have to experience a LOT of different situations and see every side to a person. What I felt for my husband on the day we met, first said “I love you,” became engaged, or even the day of our wedding, is only a shadow compared to how I love him now, 4 years later. I can’t imagine how much greater it will be in our future. :-)

  6. Margo says:

    Happy Anniversary! I can’t speak with any “authority” on this subject, as I am in my 40s and still single. But my parents are still together after over 40 years and I know from what my mother has always said that she just knew when my father came along that he was “the one.” I thought I had found “the one” 5 years ago but things took a different direction for me. I will enjoy reading the comments (and enjoyed reading your post) and maybe I’ll pick up some tips along the way. Thank you!
    Margo recently posted..False Devotion to Mary – 2

  7. Theresa in Alberta says:

    I just read you 5th anniversary story, very very nice!!! When I saw the pictures of your wedding, I thought first what a party eh? Then I wanted to ask you, do they or did they think you two were “crazy” that you a) had more than 1.2 children B) you are stay at home mom and not a career woman with a nanny 3) your husbands choice of job?
    May God continue to bless you and yours!!!!!!!!

  8. Monica says:

    This is a very timely topic for me! I appreciate your calling on your broad base of readers to get their input, because as a single in my mid-20’s, it’s been on my mind lately. I look forward to reading the answers you get.

    Happy Anniversary!! God bless! :-)

  9. Sarah says:

    If I were doing it again now as a convert I would not consider any man who didn’t have a devotion to the Blessed Mother. In my opinion this is the best indicator that a man will know how to treat a woman with respect. After that, it would take a lot of prayer and adoration for discernment.

  10. Camille says:

    As far as how I “knew” – I would say that it was similar to your last point, I couldn’t picture my life without him. I knew that he was a better person than I was – attended Church, read scripture, was generally more likely to do the right thing rather than the convenient thing – and that challenged me to become better. I’m a girl who likes a challenge I suppose :) Now, six years later, we both find it important to attend Church and we are raising two little ones to be the best people they can be.

  11. I spent several years focused on career, occasionally dating, and more occasionally dating men I liked. I finally got fed up with the dating scene, and said to God, “Look. I’m going to spend a year doing exactly what I think you want me doing. If you want me to get married, you’re going to have to put him *right in front of me* and make it obvious.”

    That year was fabulous. I did a lot of volunteer work, both at church and at a mental health clinic. I worked hard. I read good books on weekends. I was at peace — having decided not to date took off a surprisingly large amount of pressure.

    I got to the end of that year, and decided to re-up on the promise to God. Shortly after Easter I realized that a man I knew from church (someone I’d known for years) liked me. It turned out he’d been fascinated by me (and intimidated, too) for a long time. We began to do things together, and it quickly became clear that this was a serious thing. We were married in less than a year.

    As I walked down the aisle, with pews filled with faith-filled witnesses around me, I was intensely aware of Jesus in the tabernacle, right behind where my husband-to-be was standing. “Lord, I am walking closer to you, with and through Andrew,” I said. That visual image of walking toward God, knowing that the ups and downs of marriage are part of how I draw nearer, has stayed with me for 17 years.

    For that’s what marriage is about, no? Helping each other get to heaven.
    Julia at LotsaLaundry recently posted..A visit to Eldest

    • Bill says:

      Helping each other get to heaven. Cool. And your children/grandchildren too.

    • Diana says:

      This was totally apt- helping eahc other get to hevaen! Leading each other to holiness :) Thanks Jen for posting at such a time in life when I’m reeaallly wondering on how I’ll know the one :)
      Diana recently posted..Sr Sturmia has gone home…

    • Elizabeth says:

      Wow Julia, your story and the “visual image of walking toward God” “with and through” your soon-to-be husband made me cry. Thank you for your post!

  12. Terri says:

    Tomorrow will be our 36th Anniversary. YEAH GOD!!!
    I knew he was the one when he alway insisted on opening my car door for me even at the grocery store!
    My parents taught me that love is not only a feeling, it is a decision. I choose to love him and he chooses to love me. If both are willing to make marriage the number one priority then anything is possible. We developed our deep shared faith in God and family along the way.
    My dear hubby was (and is) very patient with my immaturity early in our marriage. I was smart enough to listen to him.

  13. Hermit Mama says:

    I have a special devotion to St. Joseph (I was born on his feast day) so I would pray a novena each year for my future husband. We both prayed about our vocation, but I wouldn’t say there was “one moment” when we both knew. Just as you described, it was a realization over time that we were right for each other. I knew I could be myself with him and he would love me for who I was. I also admired that he was a person his friends looked up to and asked for advice.

    At one point in our relationship he realized that he might have a vocation to the priesthood, which, as you can imagine caused a little “crisis” in our relationship. At that point we took a little break and he sought the advice of his parents and two different priests. Talking through it, we became more sure than ever that we were supposed to be together.
    Hermit Mama recently posted..Quick Takes Friday

  14. Maria says:

    I like your list – short, but full of essentials.

    I never had a serious “list” because I thought I was called to religious life most of my adolescence and young adult life. I met my husband in college and refused to go out with him because I was planning to be a nun. We stayed friends and both got in to politics after college. I was just working a year or two to pay off school debt before I entered the convent. However, I loved my work and began to have doubts about my vocation discernment. I decided to date my future husband for awhile to test my vocation. We had an friendly break-up after four months, and I assumed that I really was meant to go to the convent. Fast forward six months – my future husband calls me one night to tell me one of his younger brothers has cancer. I knew at that moment I was made by God to be his wife. I wanted to jump on a plane that second to go comfort him, to be his help mate. I never felt a general call to marriage, only a call to marry Andrew. I never had any doubts about what I was meant to do with my life after that moment, even though we weren’t even dating. About two years later, we were married.

    I’m so thankful God bludgeoned me over the head with my vocation. It was a relief after years and years of painful discernment. I guess my lesson was to always trust God and His ever-abiding Love. If you need a very clear answer to get you on the right path, He’ll give it to you somehow.

  15. Grace says:

    When my (now) husband and I began our relationship, we were both serious–adults, not interested in casual dating, entered the relationship with the goal of learning whether or not we were meant for each other. We were introduced by mutual friends whom we trusted and who saw potential for possible marriage. It wasn’t matchmaking, but we did respect our friends’ confidence, since they knew both of us well.

    We asked hundreds of questions about things important to us. We were on the same page about almost everything. The things we varied on a bit weren’t show-stoppers. I, too, had a list of qualifications. Looking back, some of them were silly, but God knew where I was in my spiritual life and my husband met the qualifications anyway. Although we come from very different backgrounds, we shared common beliefs about faith and family, and had similar goals for our future.

    We kept our relationship covered in prayer and held it with a loose grasp, in the event that God revealed we weren’t supposed to be together. Before he proposed, my husband went on a 14-day fast to seek God’s will, which gave me a lot of confidence that he took the decision very seriously.

    We’ve been happily married for 10 years. Oh, and we aren’t Catholic either.

  16. Katie says:

    I didn’t know my husband was “the one” when I met him, but I did pray a silent prayer as I walked away from the first conversation “God, that’s the kind of guy I’d like to meet.” I like to imagine Him chuckling up in heaven right then :) By that time, I knew I wanted to marry a Catholic guy and that I didn’t care if I had to be single fore years and years as long as I met the one he had for me (I was 19 at this time – so old ;) For us, prayer was part of the process of beginning to date and eventually to get engaged. We were passionate about our faith at the time, but probably not as well-formed. God knew our intents, though, because as we look back later, time in adoration has marked every big event in our life. It was at a holy hour in college where we each felt called to begin a dating relationship, my husband was praying in front of the tabernacle when he knew it was time to propose (he was dragging those feet….) and we made a weekly holy hour during our first 6 months or so of marriage when we were discerning whether to stop avoiding pregnancy with NFP, and magically got pregnant without trying (and kind of avoiding). Chastity played a big piece too, and I feel that it got us both out of potentially damaging relationships in the past and helped us to be open to God’s plan while we were dating. AS we’ve gone deeper in our faith now, there are probably more things I’d want to teach our daughters as they reach that age: don’t pray every day together when you first start dating (too intimate), be careful of the length of your relationship, etc. but I am thankful to God for what He has done for us. While we grew up in practicing Catholic families, our parents never formed us in how to look for a spouse, what a dating relationship should look like, expectations for chastity, etc. I guess we were receiving graces from the sacraments to help us along! What a great story you and your husband have!

  17. Bill says:

    When I was 20, I had my most powerful “double-take” of my life when I first saw my wife. I know there is no such thing as love at first sight, but still even 41 years later that remains one of the most powerful moments I’ve ever experienced. My recommendation for it to be the “one” is that you become great friends before you get married, and of course remain sexually abstinent.

  18. Amanda says:

    Sometimes we don’t recognize God’s grace in our lives until much later. When I met my now husband I was not crazy about him and only thought it was slightly coincidental that we were both raised Catholic. He was persistent and I eventually gave in. We got married in the Church only because it was a beauty by the sea, located in the perfect spot only a few miles from the beach house that I had reserved as the location for our family and the reception. Neither one of us were practicing Catholics until we found ourselves on rocky ground. Now I look at him and see how God brought us together without my even realizing it…and I thank Him every day! I have the perfect man for me and I don’t even know WHY such grace has been bestowed upon us. But I am even more grateful to recognize it now.

    So, I guess you could say that I am not a great person to ask, either. If there is one thing I would say…it might be to look around you for signs of God’s grace in your life. Chances are that you won’t have to look very long before you find some.

    • Jennifer says:

      My story is similar to yours, thank you. I was beginning to feel bad that I wasn’t saying “Hail Marys” since I was a teenager for my future spouse. Who knew that one should do that? All I knew was that my future husband was a good and honorable man. He was also very persistent.

  19. Di says:

    This is a discussion I had with one of my own 20 somethings when discerning this area. I suggested she look through the eyes of her future toddlers. If you were them would you want this person to be your Dad? This changed everything. She became her own future kids defenders. Momma’s boys, guys with money issues and guys without faith went by the wayside. The inertia of having grown comfortable with, having a good time with and chemistry were not enough. These fellows were applying for the position of Dad and now eyes were wide open.

    • YES! I wish everyone discerned this way!
      priest’s wife recently posted..Being Byzantine Catholic 7 Quick Takes

    • Marcy K. says:

      Wow! That is just profound. If only more women would actually do that – how many more successful marriages and happy children there would be.

      I’m just astounded at how wonderful so many of you people are. I wish I was taught to pray for my future spouse and make a “wish list”. My Catholic mother only told me “Just don’t get married in the Church because you’ll never be able to get a divorce.” She said it to be kind really. She was not well catechized.

      I actually didn’t really date much. I was a shy girl who loved her books. I was not at all religious but probably would have been with encouragement. I was poorly catechized. I met my husband at work and we became friends. He helped me out a lot when I broke my ankle and our relationship grew. He was a non-practicing Presbyterian and I a non-practicing Catholic. I knew he was the one from some of the same reasons you mentioned Jen. Our relationship just seemed to be a fit and got better with time. I loved being with him and felt at home with him. He was gentle and protective and loving. We married after 4 1/2 years of dating and we have had a wonderful 17 year marriage.

      My one sadness is that he has very little interest in religion. I was astounded at the one person who mentioned that they did not recommend that their daughters pray with their boyfriend everyday because it was too intimate. I have never prayed with my husband. Maybe someday God will grace us with that privilege. One thing I would recommend to those dating is to marry someone who shares your faith. In many ways it is easier that my husband does not have faith because we have no disagreements about it, as many mixed marriages do, but really it is not easy loving God and having to keep that to yourself. If I could ask any who would, please pray for him, and for us. God bless.

      • Mary says:

        Marcy, my situation is so similar to yours it’s spooky! I did a double take when you said you’d dated for 4 1/2 years and married for 17…so are we!

        My husband is a wonderful man; kind, caring, generous, etc., and we started off as friends before dating. After awhile he just seemed like family and I couldn’t imagine spending the rest of my life without him. However, he has no interest in organized religion (neither did I when we married) and i am feeling strongly called back to Catholicism. He doesn’t mind that I go to church and he even has gone with me a few times, but like you said, it’s not easy loving God and having to keep it to yourself!

        Thanks, Jenn, for your wonderful blog! I really enjoy it and have been so inspiried by your journey from atheist to Catholic. God Bless!

        • Mary says:

          P.S. Marcy! Just discovered your site too and have bookmarked it! It looks wonderful. I love the internet, lol.

  20. Happy anniversary!

    Though I’ve never officially left the Church, I was anything but a good Catholic when my husband and I were dating. But we started – well, *I* started – as best friends. I was always myself with him because I was not looking for anything more than a good friend to hang around with. We thought about things in similar ways (though I prayed hard for his conversion; he had lost his faith and said he didn’t believe in God – this continued until after our engagement). Once we started dating, we knew right away it was forever. We started discussing strange things like corporal punishment (some is okay), bank accounts (separate is not okay), how many children we’d like to have (that number changed, then was completely altered by my hyperemesis), and what we’d do if one of us was offered a job elsewhere in the country. We even talked about homeschooling pretty early on in our marriage – even before we were starting our family.

    For him, it was love at first sight, but for me, it was discovering that I wanted to spend my life with my very best friend: him!

    God bless you all on your anniversary!
    Christine the Soccer Mom recently posted..Homeschooling History

  21. Oh, on the religion thing … there was NO WAY I wouldn’t raise my kids Catholic. Even though I was not a very good Catholic, I knew that. So when we were dating, Nathan told me that when our kids were born, he’d be sitting in the pew next to us every single Sunday. Then, when we were first married, and he’d rediscovered his faith (actually while we were engaged), he offered to convert to Catholicism to please me. I told him no, started to regret it, and then rejoiced when he entered the Church the same year as our older daughter’s First Holy Communion. Now he’s Grand Knight and involved in the parish in a number of ways.

    But we tell our girls that it’s not good to take a chance like I did. That they need to date good Catholic men who are serious about their faith. We’re also going to try more of a courting setup, where they do things with suitors in groups, with our families, etc. rather than the fraught-with-danger go somewhere alone with a car model that we followed. That can lead to some seriously immoral stuff. Sadly, we know about that. Hopefully, they’ll know better.
    Christine the Soccer Mom recently posted..Homeschooling History

  22. Leila says:

    Happy Anniversary!! Oh, I love this post, and it reminds me that I have a post “in my head” about the whole concept of “the one” from a theological point of view (i.e., does God have “the one” in mind for you all along that we somehow must find? Or, can any number of men be “the one” and God confirms our specific choice when we marry?

    As for me, I don’t know when I knew…. I just think I enjoyed his company and thought he was a decent man who loved me. And he was cute. :) He wasn’t even Christian at the time, and I was a lapsed Catholic, so my criteria were a bit lax (as were his!). Thankfully, we are now both devout Catholics. God is so good!

    Have a great day with dh!! :)

  23. Christina says:

    +JMJ+

    Jen,

    I could write a book about marriage discernment, since I seriously considered becoming a religious sister and my husband spent nine months of our relationship discerning the priesthood (both of which I think are very important to discerning the call to marriage!), but I’ll share one of my anecdotes about being sure that he was ‘the one.’

    We were both attending Eucharistic Adoration one night, kneeling next to each other and in my conversation with Jesus I said, “Lord, this is the one I’ve been telling you about. I’d like you to meet Andy– if it is Your will, I’d like to marry him.” Almost immediately I felt this wave of peace flow over me and within my heart I heard His reply: “Yes, yes that would be very good.”

  24. nicole says:

    I know others have said this. At a minimum a shared faith in Christ was a must, and I was definitely focusing on a shared Catholic faith if at all possible. Common interests really are important and a willingness to learn about each other’s interests. Willingness to laugh at life. RESPECT! Respect for family, friends, everyone.

  25. Sarah says:

    I guess I wish I had some amazing story haha. I am getting married next month, and I will turn 30 soon. I had a rough ride as a single Catholic. I was engaged once before to a man who met all my “criteria” and who I thought I couldn’t live without. It crashed and burned. His family had tons of issues as did mine (both of our parents are divorced).

    I learned then that a man can be a good Catholic man but not good to marry necessarily. I searched long and hard for God’s will, and sometimes I still wonder how God has brought me to this place! My fiance and I have dated for 3 years with a few break-ups. I finally knew he was “the one” when he went to a priest for spiritual direction and we overcame some of our fears through the guidance of this priest. I’ve never been in a relationship that has grown so much or has been so clearly reliant on God and His grace. He is a man open and willing to growth and who knows how to love sacrificially. He has a deep, quiet devotion to God and the faith that often is underestimated by onlookers (me included). He is also the man who was willing to fight for me in a way no other man has fought for me before! These factors helped me realize wow, he is the one.

    I do feel like love is both a feeling and a choice. And this decision to marry is both exciting and also very much a leap of faith.

  26. Jackie says:

    My husband and I will celebrate our 2 month anniversary in…two weeks. So, let’s just say the discernment period is still fresh in my mind!

    I don’t believe in love at first sight, but I think we both had a strong feeling that we would end marrying each other with in the first few weeks of our relationship. We didn’t tell each other that, of course, but we were both doing the Jesuit Volunteer Corps together and learned a lot about each other’s values very quickly.

    My two pieces of advice:

    1. Don’t date people you wouldn’t marry. No exceptions. If you know you wouldn’t marry them, you are pretty much just scheduling a break up and heartache into your future.

    2. Get premarital counseling before you’re engaged. I know it seems unromantic because engagements are supposed to be big surprises, right? No! They should be discerned together. And so I think it helps to seek outside advice from parents/friends/priests before you’ve mailed out invitations and set a date. Its much easier to “break up” than “call off an engagement.” We went to a priest before we were engaged and it gave us a lot of comfort to know our union was blessed and approved.

  27. Jeff Miller says:

    Well to start with I would look at the view of the culture in regards to “the one.” I really hate the term soul mate as if there is one person out there who is your perfect soul mate. This idealized view can lead to disappointment and maybe even destroying a marriage to go on to find that soul mate.

    How do you know the person you are attracted to is the one to marry? Largely a prudential question, but one that should involve the discernment of prayer. Obviously enjoying being with the other is very important and to have some shared interests provide a good base to build on. But don’t expect all interests to overlap or even interest the other. Similar religious beliefs is pretty important. I know my atheism in the first 20 years of marriage with a cradle Catholic caused a lot of tensions and mistakes on my part.

    Having been married for 30 years I would concur with G.K. Chesterton’s quote “Marriage is a duel to the death which no man of honour should decline.” Two people with original sin are bound to run into problems and it is only grace and commitment that makes this possible. Being able to forgive and not to demand your way is very important. Slights and perceived wrongs must be left in the past and not saved for a volley in the next fight. There are going to be tensions and difficulties no matter how compatible two people are. A true commitment to your vows of seeing marriage as permanent is very important. Any view of trying to see if it works is acid to a marriage. As St. Thomas Aquinas teaches love is an act of the intellect in willing the good to another. We can only fall out of love if we stop willing this good. Love is much more that a feeling, but an act of the intellect. The feeling of love will vary throughout a marriage, the act of the will must be constant.
    Jeff Miller recently posted..Catholic Tea Party

  28. Sister Lynn says:

    I have to share this advice from my dad. Even though I didn’t use it for marriage – it was helpful when choosing a religious community too.

    He said there are three events that completely change everything about your world – birth, death and marriage. He said you don’t have any choice about the first two. For marriage – he said -See everything – make this decision with as much information as possibly. He said it is important to keep both eyes opened. Then he added… after you get married… keep one eye shut.
    Sister Lynn recently posted..How I became a nun – part 1

    • Sister- while your spouse is Jesus, you certainly don’t need to keep “one eye shut” after marriage to Him- But I’m sure there are days in your community where another sister might be a little…..hmmmm….human….so your dad’s advice still holds- keep one eye shut to your fellow sisters! :)
      priest’s wife recently posted..Being Byzantine Catholic 7 Quick Takes

  29. Sarah says:

    Yes, just like many of the previous comments, I too had a list. It was a good starting point…but I’d have to say that main issues that were important to me were:

    – share values (ie. faith, ideas on children/finances/family)
    – good communicators (you’re both able to listen, talk and actually understand one another on many levels)
    – love being together more than being apart (which is similar to not being able to imagine life without the other)
    – finding the other attractive all round…and that means physically (I mean, you have to look at him for the rest of your life, don’t you??)

    I’m a generally nervous person, so when my hubby and I started to get more serious about one another, and would come across some big issue between us – I can only say that God guided us through. My hubby and I had 2 major issues to work through – but I never ever got even close to breaking up, the Lord cleared up any doubt I had very quickly. I couldn’t wait to get to the church on our wedding day…I was so excited to marry my man! And 6 years later it’s only gotten better and better, even though we struggle with infertility, failed adoption, job loss, and many other hardships. At the end of the day, we just LOVE being together…even if we’re not in the same room. I’d say, if God leads you to someone like that, you’ve hit the jackpot! ;)

  30. Gina says:

    Happy anniversary!!

    I’m looking for “the one” (and it’s a pretty discouraging search, let me tell you). Posts like this are very helpful, so thank you!

  31. I don’t know if I believe in “the one.” (Unless we’re speaking in The Matrix context. Then, yes, I believe Neo is the one.)

    But I will tell you what I always told my youth group girls: When it all comes down, the only thing that matters is that you believe this is the man God is bringing to you. That conviction can get you through just about anything.

    I believed that about my husband when we got engaged 18 years ago next week. And then we got married and it was horrible. But even on the bad days, when I entertained the idea of divorce, I knew it wasn’t an option for me because this was the relationship where God wanted me. Many of my prayers the first 10 years sounded like, “I don’t know why you want me to be this lonely and this sad and this miserable, God. But if this is what you ask of me, I’ll stay and I’ll keep laying my life down and looking for you in the darkness.”

    And you know what? Eventually, God redeemed our marriage. Today, I am so glad I stuck it out. I see God’s fingerprints all over our relationship.

    Without that gut conviction that this man was God’s plan for me, I doubt I would have made it.
    Kelly @ Love Well recently posted..Thin

  32. Happy Anniversary!

    I’m also in the camp of “just knowing”. There was a certain and specific kind of peace that filled me when I thought about our future together. It’s a peace that only God can give and only the right man can cause you to experience.

    A second big factor was that I KNEW he could help me get to heaven. (and wondered if I even had a shot at it without him.) This is less specific than a list of qualities or characteristics. I knew he was holy. I knew he would always strive be holier. And I knew that he would do everything he could to make me holier too.

    I would tell any reader: If that peace isn’t there-he’s probably not the one. If he doesn’t give you a better shot at heaven, he’s probably not the one.
    Kaitlin @ More Like Mary recently posted..Why I Love My Husband An Explanation

    • Marie says:

      Kaitlin – beautifully said! I agree…there is/was just this sense of peace about my boyfriend / fiance’ / now husband that I can’t describe in tangible words. When it seems liked the world was crashing down (okay, not really, but I think you get my point)…he was the only peaceful thing in my life. Also, his efforts at striving for holiness are such an inspiration.
      Marie recently posted..Why I Love My Husband 1

    • Lacey says:

      Wonderfully said. Thank you!

    • Lauren says:

      AMEN to knowing that he can help you get into Heaven! If you don’t have a better chance of going to Heaven with him than without him (and vice versa), then GET OUT!!

      Well said, Kaitlin!

  33. Betsy says:

    With kids climbing all over me, I don’t have time to read through the other comments, so I apologize if this is repetitive. First of all of course was vocation discernment which I began in college after my conversion to Catholicism (from Lutheran). The phrase “God is sufficient” was key for me, as I tried not to lean one way or other for purposes other than God’s call on my life (easier said that done!).

    After discerning marriage (which I think isn’t “set in stone” until the altar), I dated quite a number of “candidates” (men). I say “dated” b/c I wasn’t looking just for a realtionship or boyfriend, but for a spouse. Dating lasted from 1-3 dates to 5 months and (ideally though not always) I tried to remember that this was essentially an interview for a life-partner, not just a nice bunch of butterfly feelings (I am a firm believer that “chemistry” is a red-herring at best) – sometimes I wished I could turn “off” the emotion button b/c it did tend to make things complicated. :)

    I met my now-husband in passing and our first date was a near-blind date prompted by a mutual friend (after my request that she put a bug in his ear and she gave him my #). :) We had both discerned our vocations and were very much “on the prowl” for our spouse. This made for a relatively easy beginning as the weekly dating was followed by him asking my dad’s permission to court me. Through a 6 month period, we sorted through all our goals, desires, etc. We certainly had fun and enjoyed each others’ company, but recognized that we would potentially have a lifetime of that and didn’t want to waste time merely having fun only to find out that I/he was not “the one” and have to start again from scratch. (We were already both solid Catholics, so that was taken care of, or else I would not have dated him in the first place). 6 months after meeting, he proposed and 8 months after that, we were married. I tell people that ours was more of an intellectual discovery of “the one” than emotional, but that laid a fabulous foundation for us, and the emotion has since only grown and grown and grown! Nearly 5 years of marriage down the road, I’m more madly in love with him than I was on my wedding day. Our “honeymoon” is our life together, growing in unity, wisdom, selflessness, holiness and family size :) (#3 is on the way!)
    Betsy recently posted..It all fell into place

  34. One of these days, I’ll write my ‘love story’ on my blog- one thing has come to mind while reading through these comments

    OFF TOPIC

    PLEASE be merciful when it comes to the family size of our fellow “good’ Catholics- I read here that there are some women who have had fertility problems- and as ‘good’ Catholics they only do so much to medically correct this. My beautiful sister in law waited 11 years for their son- and was accused during those years of infertility that she was contracepting- and now- it looks like they might not have another (they were also able to adopt a girl)- so people are at it again.

    Unless you are CLOSE friends or the woman is shouting from the roof tops how great contraception/abortion is- let it go- be accepting.

    We women are in a tough spot- I have 4 kids (3 or 4 too many for ‘pagans’ and 3 or 4 too little for super Catholics)- every woman has a story that she should only have to share with close friends.
    priest’s wife recently posted..Being Byzantine Catholic 7 Quick Takes

    • Barb says:

      I had that problem with infertility also. I also received some “looks” from some people when they found out I only had three children (all adopted). I even had people tell me that I must have been praying “wrongly” or didn’t have enough faith and that’s why I didn’t get pregnant again (I lost my one and only pregnancy in my fifth month)…very hurtful indeed.

    • Great reminder. I live in the middle of a very faithful Catholic community. And to say that people have said sometimes cruel and many times idiotic things about my lack of children would be an understatement. I’ve contemplated writing a blog post about it, but my sense of humor tends to be a bit sarcastic and I think I would botch it. :)
      Nichole@40daysof recently posted..Here’s a riddle for ya!

  35. Sarah says:

    How did I know he was the one?

    (1) Even though we had been dating for nearly a year, and I was certain I loved him well before this point, I think I really *knew* that I wanted to marry my husband when we spent our first Christmas as a couple with our respective families (his in IN, mine in PA) and were not together. For the first time in my life, Christmas did not feel like Christmas, because I felt that “something was missing” because he wasn’t there. That was huge for me. It basically made me realize that I already considered Eric part of my family, even though he wasn’t yet.

    (2) Before I met him, and after a particularly difficult to break off relationship, I promised myself that I would never, ever date anyone who made me feel as though I had to choose between the relationship and God. He never once made me feel that way.

    (3) Also, I’d recommend to any woman who is trying to discern marriage, that a man who has true devotion to Mary will undoubtedly know how to be a good husband.
    Sarah recently posted..7 Quick Takes Friday

  36. Keith B says:

    Way back in college, I had railed at God over my being single, and my loneliness and frustration over it. After several false starts with various girls, I eventually had a long rant at God over how nothing ever seems to work, &c&c.

    Somewhere in my ranting-for-being-single mode, I laid out a laundry list of things that had to happen for me to believe it was the girl of my dreams. In retrospect, some of them were rather ridiculous, and definitely indicative of my spiritual walk at the time.

    So yes, I fleeced my future wife :)

    And soon after I met her, she started tripping all my fleeces (many of which I have never shared with anyone), and I just knew.

    A little over a year after we got married, things are still going well.

    Maybe she’s just “one” out of the “many” fish in the sea. Sometimes I ponder such things. But then I go home and hold her in my arms, and realize I wouldn’t have anyone else.

    Happy Anniversary!

  37. Happy Anniversary!

    It’s odd that you ask this question today, because I had “marriage advice” on my list of possible blog posts. I’ve been married twice and divorced once, so I can give lots of advice on what NOT to do when choosing a spouse, LOL. Instead of clogging up your comment box, though, I’ll just leave a link to the blog post you helped inspire:

    http://www.smoochagator.com/2010/10/love-and-marriage-part-one/

  38. Veronica says:

    I knew he was the one. I told my mom, “if i start dating him, that’s it, we’re getting married.” so she started saving money for our wedding. =)

    *we were always friends
    *we listened to each other and even if we disagreed, we were interested in the other view point
    *he didn’t let me boss him around
    *he was the only person I ever fought with, in fact, he taught me how to fight, talk about things that were bothering me, and resolve conflict (I didn’t learn that from my passive/nonagressive birth family, but have been teaching them that we can still love each other and disagree)
    *we couldn’t stop talking, 8 years of friendship+dating+marriage later, we still have to say, “can I please go to sleep… shhhh”
    *we would rather be together and do nothing than be apart doing something.
    *our faith is both very real
    *he was open to the idea of NFP, and that openess has rocked our world
    *he has always believed in me
    MOST IMPORTANTLY: he saw me the way I hoped that someone who loved me would, he thinks I’m beautiful when I’m just waking up with a cold, makeup less, makeup smeared all over my face, incredibly messy frizzy hair, snarly – he thinks I’m beautiful. he thinks I’m good, he thinks I’m holy. and I want to be. he makes me want to be better.

  39. Toni says:

    I may be alone here in saying I do not think there is a “one” person for you. I feel you need to know yourself well and know what traits you want in a spouse that are important to you. One of the traits of both people should be willingness to work at the marriage. I think if you are mature and both goals are common, you will have a great marriage. Every marriage will have good and bad days – but if you prioritize and pray, you will be blessed with many great days!

    We’re going on 9 years.

  40. Lacey says:

    Happy Anniversary Jennifer! Thank you for this post. I am in the “I just knew” camp as well….I couldn’t imagine life without my husband and our love has only gotten stronger since we’ve been together. It has not been easy, but it has been so worth it. Love is a decision. My husband encourages me to strive to be a better Catholic and to educate myself and trust in God’s Will and Grace. We are more in love today than we were on our wedding day. We don’t take each other for granted, we accept each other as we are, but we challenge each other to be better people, better spouses, better Catholics, to respect each other. We are the biggest goofballs ever….we share a sense of humour that quite often only we ‘get’, we laugh with each other and at ourselves, we try not to take ourselves too seriously…..I find us hilarious at times! LOL We tell each other “I Love You” limitless times a day….I never tire of hearing it and I never tire of saying it.

  41. Jennifer says:

    Not a very prayerful response – but my advice is that if you’re not marrying your best friend, you’re marrying the wrong person. I knew my husband was “the one” when he became my best friend and my best girlfriend became just that – my best girlfriend.

  42. Jane says:

    Look how he treats his mother. Look at her relationship with her father. Pray together. Make sure you find each other humorous. :)

  43. Tara Meghan says:

    Just knew! We met at work in March of 2005 and started dating three months later. A week or two before he asked me out, he told his sister he was going to marry me. I would have thought that was crazy, but a few weeks after we got together I felt like it didn’t matter what troubles came up, it was worth sticking around for. That was also weird, because I’m the independent, bolting type.

    I think you “know” when you honestly don’t care if there is something better out there. You stop thinking in those terms.

  44. Elizabeth in CA says:

    I love all these stories and bits of advice! However – what do you do when you “know” he’s the one and have done from the get-go, you’ve prayed about it more than you care to think, and you’ve received very clear signs that he’s the one, but at this point you’ve dated and broken up twice and currently aren’t even talking? Getting back together doesn’t look like a possibility at this point, but nothing else makes sense. Prayer life isn’t doing so great either as a result, what with feeling more than a little bit let down by God…

    • Josephene Kealey says:

      Elizabeth, if this is personal experience, I am very sorry and shall pray for you. Perhaps counselling from a Christian counselor is something to look into.

    • Lisa says:

      If he is the one, it’ll happen in God’s timing.

      And remember, God never gives us just one shot at happiness- He gives us many. Sometimes, by letting a desire go, you find a path you never could have imagined. I think a common theme among these comments is that life didn’t go as planned but turned out better than could have been imagined.

      If you would have told me years ago, this Southern Cslifornian girl would be living in Maine, given up her career, and hoping for more children, well, I would have laughed hysterically. But now I find myself awash in grace and gratitude. Thank goodness I didn’t marry the first guy I thought could be the one!

  45. Erin says:

    I also “just knew,” but I did pray that the Lord would reveal His will to me on whether this was the man for me or not. The answer was very obvious to me, as I knew myself well and didn’t bother dating as soon as I knew he was not the one (usually knew this after one date).

    I was not the greatest practicing Catholic at the time I met my husband (this year will be nine years and three kids for us), so I didn’t really have a great list or anything like that. But God was merciful anyway and gave me a lapsed Catholic who is slowly returning home, and who, even before that, was open to NFP and many of the “rules” of Catholicism! He made me want to be a better person. I wanted to be a better person just to be worthy of him — but the trick is that he feels the same way about me. It’s not one-sided, which would obviously be a terrible relationship. Despite my husband’s not-yet-fully-in-communion-with-the-Church status, I can see God at work within his soul. So while it can be difficult dealing with his at-times lack of faith, I know God brought us together so we could get each other to heaven. (Just learning how to back off and simply pray for him is infinitely humbling within itself!)

    And yes, I have had doubts, but I also know love is a choice, and I continue to choose it every day. But if I were giving advice, I would say unless you know you are being given clear guidance by God to the contrary, I would hesitate before marrying someone outside the faith, or someone without faith. God bless!

  46. Jessica says:

    The best piece of advise that I can give is to trust in the Lord and to believe that he knows what he is doing. It may sound trite but I am convinced that the only way my husband and I could have met, fallen in love, and made it work so well so far is through divine intervention. I don’t know exactly how I knew that he was the one but I knew that it felt right to be with him and, like Jen, I couldn’t imagine a life without him. I think it helped that we had both already graduated from college and had some life experience behind us.

    Also, I understand the desire that many people have to find someone who is a good Catholic to date and marry. However, if my husband had taken that path we would never have started dating…and I most likely would never have converted to Catholicism. That’s not to say that inter-faith marriages are easy or are for everyone but a good marriage (and a good Catholic marriage) doesn’t necessarily have to start with two Catholics.

    Which brings me to my second piece of advice: Once you get engaged, definitely take advantage of any pre-marital/pre-Cana programs offered by your parish or diocese. Our parish’s program paired us with a couple that had been married for over 10 years. The husband was a cradle Catholic and the wife was raised Baptist but converted to Catholicism after they had been married for a while. Hearing their experiences and advise was a great help for us.

  47. Shannon says:

    I tend to think it’s a red flag when people date for years and years and still aren’t sure. If you’re older than about 21 and have a decent bit of common sense about you, it shouldn’t take 2 or 3 years of dating to determine if he’s the one.

  48. Josephene Kealey says:

    I just knew this post would generate many comments — so lovely to read! I want to thank everyone for sharing such great stories, and advice.

    I didn’t have any practical considerations about finding my future husband. When my father had advised I start to pray for a good husband, when I was a young teenager, I thought it silly advice. I wondered, in perhaps my youthful arrogance, why I should pray when obviously He was already preparing a future husband for me, if I were going to get married?

    The summer before I met my future husband, I had decided God wanted me to be single. I never dated before meeting my future husband, and felt perfectly content in my decision for God to remain single (I was 21).

    When I met Michael, everything with him seemed natural, if I can use such an unhelpful word. I never felt more myself, more womanly, and more deeply human. I realized that my life was shallow (I have always been a practising Catholic) until I met him. He was brought up in an anti-Catholic household, but I had learnt so much goodness from him from the start.
    At the same time, I was scared stiff of the whole thing and was in a whirl of emotional, sexual, and spiritual confusion. And my family was NOT happy with my dating him.

    But, I just threw myself in God’s arms, and let Him take care of everything. I just abandoned the whole thing to Him, come what may.

    We’ve been married 5 years, and have two children, one due in December. His faith in Christ Jesus astounds me. I have trouble keeping up with him. : )

    Trust in the Lord — there’s nothing better than that, I believe, for helping anyone through discernment regarding marriage. Even when it looks like a complete mess, He’ll find your through if you let Him.

    • Emily says:

      In the year before I met my husband I had spent time ‘discerning my vocation’.

      In other words I spent a few months a bit lonely with no one I knew well and a job which gave me a lot of time for thought, so I spent time praying and considering my future. By the end of this I knew that I should marry.

      I was in the middle of my first year of University (it was a four months studying, four months working type of thing) and I had already decided No Dating During My First Year.

      I met my husband as I was finishing my final exams for that year :-)

      He wasn’t Catholic, but he was honorable and I knew quite quickly that he would be more careful to avoid doing anything that might lead me to violate my conscience then I was. [blush]

      I prayed, I listened to my mom’s advice, I talked to him being quite straightforward about what was required of me by my Faith, we dated and had fun. And as others stated I couldn’t imagine life without him.

      (on my husband’s side he eventually realized that unless he broke up with me, this was going to lead to marriage, and he didn’t want to break up with me- so he proposed :-))

      I can’t remember ever having doubts. I was marrying a good honorable man, a man who loved me (and who was sexy and fun!) with the support of my family and his. This was the right vocation for me and he was the right man. I thank God for meeting him at the right point of my life and his.

      He’s helped me become a better person simply by seeing me as better then I am and I’ve had the honor and privilege to introduce him to the Faith and watch him enter the Catholic Church.

  49. Susan says:

    I really appreciate your blogs, thank you!

    We are going on 20 years married, and before I met him I asked God to let me marry someone who loved God more than himself. I figured if that priority is right, I wouldn’t have to worry about the rest. And it turned out to be true and God answered my prayer!

    • Christina says:

      A friend recently gave me a 10-12 point list of things she wanted in a man. I joked that I had ONLY TWO things, he must love God with all his heart, soul and strength, and be willing to lay down his life for my salvation. However, it seemed she’d meet all her qualifications before I met mine ;)

      You post gives me a little hope that my small list might be fulfilled ;-)

  50. Jess G. says:

    Bob and I started out like two rabid dogs trying to take each other out. We fought constantly and because of that we broke up.

    But…

    he’s like a magnet to me and I to him. So we didn’t stay apart for very long once we had met, fought and broken up. It is bad advice to tell young people to allow sexual attraction and “chemistry” to dictate a good spouse, because frankly, I am lucky as could be that it all has worked out.

    For us though, without that magnetic attraction I doubt we would be happily married. No, it isn’t just about sex, but that helps! There is something about Bob that interests me, like no other man has. And that is the key to our success. I think he feels the same way about me, which is a good thing since two more different people haven’t walked the planet and gotten hitched. He likes to say he always knew I had a good heart and would be a good mother, but that is just total nonsense, I know at age 21 he wasn’t thinking about my motherly ways. ;-)

  51. Rebecca says:

    Happy Anniversary!

    While on one hand I just knew, on the other hand I didn’t have a clue. I just knew because things felt comfortable with him. We could discuss anything. We could spend an evening watching tv together on the couch and it was a fun time. But, my parents divorced when I was young and I was terrified of making a wrong decision and being stuck with that person for the rest of my life. I think that fear paralyzed me a little bit and make things less clear when God and our Mother were truly leading me all along. On top of that, there were some issues along the way that had complicated things. Still, I couldn’t imagine my life without him and I didn’t want to. In the end, when I was at the altar on my wedding day and the priest asked if we were there without any hesitation, I could truthfully answer yes. Any lingering doubts that I had had were gone and my prayers of wanting to know for sure were gone. And, that hour or so was the absolute best of my life. Never had I felt the outpouring of the Holy Spirit so much.

    A couple of things:
    -after our rehearsal and before the rehearsal dinner, we had Adoration where we invited all to pray for us. We also offered confession. While My husband, me and one other person were the only ones who took advantage of it, I really do feel that confessing and being pure on our wedding day is one of the things that helped us to feel the HOly Spirit so strongly.
    -Fr. Morrow wrote a book called “Christian Courtship in an Oversexed World.” It’s written from a Catholic perspective and is wonderful because it doesn’t focus so much on what NOT to do (no sex before marriage!) but tells you what you SHOULD be doing to build a relationship that may lead to marriage. I highly recommend it.

  52. So many great comments- we could publish a book :)
    priest’s wife recently posted..Being Byzantine Catholic 7 Quick Takes

  53. Lizzie says:

    I always read your blog but rarely comment but wanted to say a huge thank you to all of you who have posted. There are some common and important themes here which are really helpful to me as someone who feels called to marriage and family life but has a pretty damaged past. I am a single mum to my wonderful 6 year old and have been praying for a godly husband for the last 7 years! All of these posts have helped to confirm in my heart and mind the qualities that really matter in a husband and will help keep me on track with my, hopefully, Holy Spirit inspired desires for the future. Happy Anniversary Jen!

  54. I was at peace with the decision when I was in prayer, and only worried about it when I wasn’t. It seemed to me that I would have felt the opposite if it was the wrong decision.
    Veronica Mitchell recently posted..Think of this post as me searching for the one sheep lost from the ninety-nine

  55. Young Mom says:

    I knew he was the one after 1 week of dating, and I said yes when he asked me to marry him after 2 weeks of dating! Looking back now, I can hardly believe I was so confidant after such a short amount of time, I love him so much more now! I think these are the things that made me so sure.

    I took it very seriously, on our first date I brought a huge list of stuff that I felt was important to me. Like faith, children, education of children, birth control (or lack of), nutrition…. you name it. After I got that out of the way, and I felt we were compatible I decided to wait and see if it “felt right”.

    And…. He treated me as his equal.
    He listened to what I had to say and never made me feel “small”.
    We never ran out of stuff to talk about.
    He liked children and interacted with them well.
    He was honest.
    I couldn’t imagine my life without him.
    Young Mom recently posted..Saturday Evening Post 8

    • Christina says:

      I did this once with a guy — came with a huge list of stuff I wanted to get out of the way. He didn’t call me back and three months later said I was so intense that he went home and had a couple drinks…or more.

      Although, as far as I’m concerned it’s a good thing, I’m not sure I want to marry someone who couldn’t handle a friendly interrogation about his adherence to Catholic sexual ethics. :-P

  56. Maria Louise says:

    I am currently in a great relationship and discerning God’s will for our future, so this post is very timely. Thanks to everyone for all the great comments.

  57. Ed says:

    This website is like a breath of fresh air (articles and comments) – thanks. Just reading, sorry for not adding comments (single – so what do i know about marriage!).
    God Bless.

  58. Megan says:

    Happy Anniversary! My criteria in choosing a spouse was that he had to be strongly convicted in his Catholic faith and on board with the difficult teachings like contraception etc. He had to make me laugh. He had to have ambition and goals. :) It isn’t a very long list, but it worked for us! We have been married 3 years, and I would do it all over again in a heartbeat!

  59. Anonymous says:

    A few comments:

    1. St. Ignatius might describe the “just knowing” as a spirit of consolation for me when I met my husband and thought about a life together. It made sense and brought me deep peace when I thought about our future together.

    2. Part of being able to recognize “the one” is knowing who you are and what you need out of a relationship. It’s a matter of being the right person, not just finding the right person. Meeting my husband made me thank God I hadn’t married previous men I had dated. I could see where my husband made sense as a partner for me and where I made sense as a partner for him. Previous boyfriends had been close, but nothing like the fit I am with my husband.

    3. Other people commented on how good we were for each other, how we made each other better people, friends, family members. I could see this, as well, but the outside confirmation was a real wake up.

    4. I really liked dating him and enjoyed that time as its own season. I couldn’t imagine my life without him is what more and more convinced me that we should marry after dating for a few years.

    5. He’s good, smart, funny, spiritual and hte very best person I know. Yeah me for marrying him! We both feel like we’ve gotten the better deal out of being married. That’s the best part.

  60. Lianna says:

    Thanks for this post! As a single person waiting for the day I get to work through these questions with someone, these answers are very helpful! Thanks everyone! :-)

  61. Liesl says:

    So many comments, but I’m enjoying reading them!!

    I am single, 24, but I have been praying the past year to kind of figure out if marriage is what I am being called to – and I think that it is – so I also have been praying for my future spouse – to keep him strong in the faith, pure, and to let him know that I love him already. I also pray that when we meet (if we haven’t already), that he and/or I feel something from God to let us know that we’ve met “the one”. Hopefully it all works out – I am placing my complete trust in God on this one!

    Congrats on your anniversary – isn’t it amazing how God called you to a marriage that completely changed your life in a way you never expected!?
    Liesl recently posted..Five Fundamentals of a Firm Faith

  62. whimsy says:

    There are lots of good advice books out there for young people. However, don’t dismiss picture books for an “image” of good, healthy relationships.

    Sometimes an image is more powerful and deeper than a list.

    I immediately think of George and Martha (James Marshall). They are not perfect, and they sometimes have misunderstandings, but they are faithful, generous, kind and forgiving of one another.

    THAT’S what I want to see in my children’s spouses. God willing, that’s what they see in their father and mother (me), too.

    • whimsy says:

      I found an example of just what I was trying to say:

      source: http://www.catholicity.com/commentary/longenecker/03657.html

      The difference between Narnia and Middle Earth points to the underlying difference between the imagination of Lewis the Protestant and Tolkien the Catholic. For the Protestant, truth is essentially dialectical. It consists of abstract propositions to be stated, argued, and affirmed or denied.

      For the Catholic, Truth, while it may be argued dialectically, is essentially something not to be argued but experienced. The Truth is always linked with the mystery of the incarnation, and is therefore something to be encountered.

      Many Protestants will argue, for instance, that God’s primary revelation is Sacred Scripture, while Catholics maintain that God’s primary revelation is Jesus Christ. That Lewis produced works that were profound, worthy, and beautiful, but less than fully incarnational, while Tolkien produced a masterpiece that incarnated the same truths in a complete, subtle, and mysterious way reflects the deeper theological differences that remained between the two men.

  63. Sarah says:

    Ok – I was just thinking about the amount of faith I’m seeing in these posts…I mean so many folks who’ve written in are praying for their spouse, and they have no idea who that person is. They are already connected to their spouse, they are living in the Promise of God, and preparing themselves for a life that they believe He is calling them to – and that is fantastic!! I have to remember this in my life because that kind of faith and hope is exactly what the Lord speaks about all the time – the mustard seed, the many many healings and raising of Lazarus and on and on. This applies to any life situation where we are called to wait on the Lord – and waiting is not a fun or popular place to be. But we’re in good company…almost every figure in the beginning of the New Testament was waiting upon the Lord in some way (Anna, Simeon, Mary, Elizabeth, Zechariah) and a few had been waiting for their whole lives. Just take a look at Simeon. He is definitely one to remember in the seasons of life where you’re waiting on the Lord. He’s an old man, so he’s waited his WHOLE LIFE for the Messiah, and God fulfills His promise to Simeon. Imagine that joy and gratitude.

    God IS fulfilling His promises to every one of us out there waiting for a spouse, for a baby, for a job, for a home, etc. Just keep praying, petitioning and listening.

  64. Cornelius says:

    I once heard a secular author give the following advice, which I thought was wise, for determining whether you should marry someone, to cut through all of the wrong reasons people get married:

    1) would you be happy with this person if he/she remains the same as he/she is now?
    2) would you want this person to be the father/mother of your children?
    3) would you want your children to be like this person?

  65. Aubrey says:

    It sounds a little cliche, but how did I know my husband of nearly 10 years was the one? It never occurred to me that he wasn’t. I never wondered. I couldn’t imagine ever letting him go.
    Aubrey recently posted..Clarification

  66. honeybee says:

    How did I know my husband of 22 years was the one?

    He made me laugh (and he still does)!

  67. We knew that we were right for eachother because we wanted the same things out of life and no one else would put up with either of us. ;-) We are very evenly matched, and spar constantly but love eachother even more for it. For the first several years of our friendship, we mainly fought and I didn’t even like him. But once I got over myself and started dating him, we were engaged a month later, married a year after that (full disclosure: we were 20 weeks pregnant at our wedding, and 17 and 18 years old) and seem to be doing fairly well 8 1/2 years and 5 kids down the line. :-)

    We knew that this was “it” because we knew that both of us would go to hell and back for the other one. We were more alive and better for loving each other. We knew exactly what we were promising when we married, and it’s been on heck of a ride that I wouldn’t change for the world.

    I don’t think that you have to have everything “right” or be a perfect person make a good marriage. I think fundamentally you have to be willing to go with what God is calling you to, know when to hold on for dear life and when to roll with the punches. God writes straight with crooked lines, and as long as you remain “open,” I think He will take care of the rest.

  68. lethargic says:

    When I met my now-DH, it didn’t feel like meeting someone new; it felt like running into an old friend I hadn’t seen for years. We immediately began having deep, substantive conversations. Although it took 7 months for us to so much as hold hands, I knew within 3 weeks that we would be spending our lives together. We’re heading for our 29th anniversary in a couple of months.

  69. Tiffany says:

    I met my husband 6.5 years ago on a retreat (TEC for TECers). During the retreat, we talked one night, and the conversation just flowed. As I was leaving the retreat, I heard a voice that I had just met my husband. I thought, are you kidding me?!?! :)

    Throughout the next 5 years, we hung out on occasion, talked every so often, and dropped in and out of contact.

    I had given up on him. I was happy being single, and I thought that was becoming my “calling.”

    And then, the day came…he FINALLY asked me out (and I was about to turn him down, if it had not been a friend prodding me to say yes). Thankfully, I did get that push. 6 months later we were engaged. 6 months after that we were married. My DH is my best friend — my ticket to heaven.

    God knew what He was doing all those years ago…

  70. I recall dating other girls while my future wife and I were broken up, and the thought kept coming to me that, yes, these are nice girls and all, but SHE is the real deal. I believe one’s vocation calls one in the same way: we recognize the beauty in all walks of life, but are persuaded that one walk is the one which will bring us the greatest joy in this life and in the next. I think that is what God was telling me while we were apart. We have now been married for more than 21 years, and my wife is the greatest gift to me, my best friend, and the love of my life. Every day is a blessing to belong to her.
    dadwithnoisykids recently posted..Look Who Is Expecting!

  71. Gillian says:

    For me it was a combination of ‘I couldn’t imagine life without him’ and that he was the one person I could completely be myself around, nothing fake, nothing I felt I had to hide.

    I wasn’t very involved in faith at the time and thinking back I don’t think ‘what God wanted’ played into it, but I also knew it just felt right. And looking back now the way everything fell into place over the 4 months of planning the wedding and finding a place to live for after, had God written all over it.

    Like it was almost too easy?

  72. Keith says:

    I haven’t read all of the comments, but my wife and I helped with marriage preparation at our parish. We instructed the engaged couples that “the one” is “the one” you vow to marry. There are about 6 billion people in this world. Before you are married, there isn’t one “the one.” If, through dating and engagement, you have prayerfully discerned that this person is the one you honestly want to give yourself to, and you trust that the other person feels the same, then on the day of your wedding, when you both vow yourselves before God and man to each other, the two of you become “the one.”

  73. Mary says:

    How to tell if he’s “the one”:
    Know what is the most important part of your life. For me, it’s my faith. I cannot – CANNOT – be with someone who doesn’t share the MOST important part of my life. If the most important part of your life is teaching children in Darfur, BE with someone who wants to teach children in Darfur. If you can’t find that person, don’t worry. You’re fulfilling the most important part of your life. Could there be more than one person who matches this requirement? Sure, there could be 20. But then individual tastes and personalities should be considered, and the list narrows to 2 or 3, from which, you may have to make a decision.

    Did I ever wonder if I was making a mistake?:
    See, the thing is, “wondering” is a completely normal human process. I wonder how life would be different if I chose a different college. I wonder if I made a mistake when I fed my daughter chocolate. I wonder if I made a mistake by not pursuing a music career. And yes, I wonder if I made a mistake marrying a man who pulled me away from my family and made me live 12 hours away. When did wondering become a horrifying experience? Give your imagination an outlet. But DON’T allow yourself to START thinking you actually made a mistake. I will not allow myself to think that the college I chose was the wrong one, or that my daughter is ruined by eating chocolate, or that I’d somehow be happier if I’d only had a music career. And especially, I will not allow myself to think that a ‘mistake’ in marrying my husband has left me worse off. I am infinitely better off.

    Do I know for certain that he is the one?:
    Honestly, I’m sure I could happily marry five or six people. But HE is the one I have chosen. And more importantly, he is the one GOD has chosen for me. Now this is where my anti-Christian friends tune out, because it’s very difficult to explain.

    This was my journey in a huge nutshell- “God, I want to be a single person consecrated to you.” *No answer* “God, I’m really thinking about joining a convent.” *No answer* “God, if you think I oughta get married, open my heart to the possibility that there’s someone out there for me.” *Hehehe* Literally within a week, I met the man who is now my husband. So it was pretty obvious what God was telling me.

    My number one piece of advice for discerning is this: How easily do your forgive one another? If your answer is “we have to forgive each other like, a million times a day for the stupid things we do and say” then you are GOLDEN. Love IS forgiveness. You CAN build a life on that.

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  75. monica says:

    My husband is from Barcelona, he came to Denver to attend the ordination of a friend of his from his church community in Barcelona. My husband had left the Church about 5 years before that and had sworn of all things Catholic (not, however, the opportunity to travel ;) He went to the ordination in the Cathedral that day thinking nothing out of the ordinary when he heard Christ tell him ¨I love you exactly as you are.¨He had for sometime been feeling like life had no purpose, why work for 40 years, get married, have children etc. He made the decision that he would return to his parish community and see what else God had to say.

    I had just spent the last five years trying to make a terrible relationship the right one. I had grown up in the Church but always kept one foot firmly planted in the world. Sex, drugs and rock´n´roll (and mass on Saturday nights). At about age 24 I attended a meeting in Chicago where they did a vocational call and against every fiber in my body I threw on my hood and ran down to the stage crying like a baby. Not at all happy with this new facet of my life I knew I needed to explore it (if nothing else than to make certain I didn´t have to become a nun) I went and spent a week at a cloistered convent in Spain and found that the women there lived a very beautiful life and that it was not something i had to fear, upon my return I met a man who I mistakenly believed I needed to save.

    However, God worked hard in those five years with that wrong person because he gave me the desire of my heart which was to find someone I could give my life for. God also provided me with a mission in the year before i met my husband, which was to renew a friendship with a girl from middle school whose husband was dying of brain cancer. So I was able to help them, and through that God helped me and made me serious about finding my vocation and quit screwing around with my life.

    The day we met I had already heard about my future husband (I had my sister do some detective work to see if any young eligibles had come from Spain for the ordination) and he had already heard of me (though his first reaction was pure disgust at the thought of getting involved with an ¨American¨ HA). We met in the chapel at the Redemptoris Mater Seminary and I thought my husband looked like icons of Jesus and his first thought when he saw me was ¨I could go as a family in mission to Africa with that woman¨ (the jury is still out on that one).

    We spoke for about 40 minutes at the reception and exchanged email addresses. We wrote to one another and soon started skyping. We met on May 15, 2010 he bought a ticket to come visit again for the 4th of July. He came for one week and it was the most hard-core marathon date you can imagine. He stayed at my dad´s and we would be busy from 7 am until 1 am each night and it was HORRIBLE, we both agree now. It was a miracle we kept talking after that trip. Pressure, stress and the devil made it nearly impossible to enjoy. We continued to talk and wade through a huge existential crisis that my husband had to go through.

    His dad had urged him to go and pray all night in an adoration chapel on the top of a mountain overlooking Barcelona. He did, and when it was over at 6 am he called me (11 pm denver time) He told me that one gospel by chance he had opened spoke of the talents and that he was certain that God was giving him a talent in me and in the life we might live together and he wanted to know if I would be his wife? Yes. i didn´t even need to give it a second thought. Our relationship was nothing like what I imagined my relationship with my future husband to be like, but all the better because either God knows what He is doing or He doesn´t, and I trusted that He did. I was at peace. Engaged six weeks after we met and married a little over year later.

    God grated us the the grace to be chaste in our engagement and that was huge for me because it had always been something that I wanted but I had NEVER been able to do on my own. Huge miracle. Though I must say the search to discover the beauty and depth of sex continues, and it is a difficult path for me at this time. We got pregnant on our wedding night and the baby´s due date was my mom´s birthday (who passed 17 years ago and whose prayers i am convinced led me to this man). She wasn´t born on her due date but we named our baby girl MaryEllen in memory of her grandma.

    So here I am feeling rather nauseated because baby number two is eight weeks on the way and I just wanted to share all the little miracles, the details and gifts that God had planned just for ME and my husband of course, and He does this with each one of us if we care to look just below the surface, to string together the events of our life to see that it is much much more than meets the eye. Please pray for us.