Let me start by saying that being married and being single can both be deeply meaningful, rewarding and satisfying. Not everyone has the desire to be married and the desire to stay single is just as valid as wanting to spend the rest of your life with someone else.
So if you are looking for a person to spend the rest of your life with, what should you be looking for? I’m not a marriage expert but I’ve been happily married for 22 years and I get this question a lot from the creatives we work with — how do I know if I’ve found “The One”? Well, here are a few things to keep an eye out for. Before you say “I do,” ask yourself these questions:
1. Do you play well together?
The best couples love being together. No matter how attracted you are to each other, attraction alone won’t carry a marriage over the long haul. You have to play well together. Just like kids enjoy being with other kids who “get them,” the same thing is true for married couples. After two decades of marriage, Sarah and I still love to be together. If you have a hard time finding things to do together that you both enjoy, take a step back and think again.
2. Do you laugh well together?
Nothing keeps a friendship ablaze or a marriage intact quite like laughter. I can’t imagine being married to someone I couldn’t laugh with. The person you’re closest with should be the one you can be real with, someone you can cry with, get mad at and definitely laugh with. If you don’t laugh often or laughter seems forced or awkward, that might be a yellow light. Laughter is one of the greatest remedies when life gets tough, which is inevitable. Being married to someone who doesn’t take themselves too seriously will make the journey so much more of a joy.
3. Do you ever sense a coverup?
If laughter helps to bring people together quickly, deceit will rip people apart even faster. Marriage is built on the foundation of trust—emotionally and physically. Does the person you’re dating keep secrets from you? Do you find yourself rationalizing why he/she hasn’t told you something that you discover on your own? Are there chapters of the past that he/she won’t talk about? No doubt, trust and vulnerability take time, but if you sense any bit of a coverup, that’s a big red flag.
4. Do you share values?
It’s true that opposites attract and that’s certainly the case with me and Sarah. She’s an extrovert and I’m a closet introvert. She’s bold and not afraid to say it like it is. I’m a peacemaker and bit of a people-pleaser. I’m artsy and she’s pragmatic. In some ways, we couldn’t be more different. But we’re on the same page on things that matter—faith, family and cultural worldview. Take an inventory of how close you and your significant other are on things that matter to you. It could make a big difference.
5. Are you attracted to each other?
It might seem obvious but I’ve got to say it. I think it’s important that you’re attracted to each other. In this age of hyper-spirituality and Christian-bubble “arranged” marriages, sometimes the value of attraction is shunned in place of a spooky sense of “God’s leading.” This is even more magnified when a friend, parent or spiritual mentor thinks God is bringing two people together. Don’t get me wrong. I do think that God has an opinion, but we can’t get so weird about it that we ignore the sense of attraction that God also gave us.
6. Does he/she make you a better you?
Simply put, does that other person make you a better version of yourself or do you find yourself compromising areas of your life just to keep them on the hook? You shouldn’t have to be anyone other than the person that God has made you and the right person for you should bring out your best, not the other way around. You know what I mean. When you’ve spent time with that person, are you happier, more confident, more centered, etc?
There are so many other things to look for, but these are just a few that I was thinking about today. How abut you? What do you look for, or avoid, when considering someone to marry? Let me know in the comments below.