Most of you know by now that I’m a little commitment-phobic. Not because I think I would be a bad wife or because I think marriage is dead. I actually believe there is incredible power in committing to a lifetime of growth with one person. No, my problem is that there are 6 billion people on the planet. What if I choose the wrong ONE to be with forever? As a child of divorce, I have strong feelings against putting my children through a divorce. So the assumption that I have to find The One is intense. So how can I tell if the one I am with is THE ONE? Here are a few signs that are at least helping me narrow it down:
1) We have a spiritual connection. I’m not a religious person. But I’ve spent a lifetime cultivating a spiritual center that supports me in my daily life. Now, my life partner doesn’t need to believe everything I do. But he does have to understand where I’m coming from, and be open to understanding how my spirituality affects my life. Better yet, he needs to have his own spiritual center that helps guide him throughout his life. And the more we share this passion with each other, the stronger that connection will be.
2) He is honest with me about what he sees in me. To me, marriage is a vehicle for individual change. Both partners are there to provoke soul growth in the other. I want a life partner who understands this underlying purpose of marriage, and is committed to using marital challenges to spurn personal development. I want someone who will reflect back to me exactly what he sees in me – the good, the bad and the ugly. He doesn’t hold back and he doesn’t sugar-coat anything. And he is capable of doing this over the long haul (even when I refuse to believe what he’s telling me).
3) He is honest with me, period. I’ve been in dishonest, deceitful relationships in my day. They aren’t fun. And they aren’t productive. They create unnecessary insecurity and drama, and they don’t promote healthy growth in either partner. The One for me understands that honesty is critical to building trust in a relationship. He is committed to being honest at all times, then he lets the chips fall where they may.
4) He CHOOSES me rather than NEEDS me. I’ve also been in co-dependent, needy relationships. Those aren’t fun either. Having (or being) a co-dependent partner immediately creates a sense of anxiety in the relationship. When you depend on your partner for happiness or stability or excitement in your life, you’re always afraid of losing them. Being afraid of losing your partner immediately inhibits honesty, and you all know how I feel about honesty (see sign no. 3). To me, being happy on my own (and being with someone who is happy on his own) is a key ingredient to the long-term success of the relationship.
5) We make each other laugh. If you ask someone on the street what they think the most important trait is to have in a partner, most people will say “sense of humor” above all else. Why? Because the ability to laugh with your partner is going to carry you through the most stressful of times. Relationships challenge us to move out of our comfort zone. It’s easy to get bogged down in the seriousness of life’s little issues. But if you have someone in your corner who can make you laugh when life is at its most serious, you’ll sail through those challenges much more easily.
As I list these relationship “requirements”, it occurs to me that finding The One may not be my ultimate goal. After all, these are qualities I appreciate about the most important people in my life (my sister, my mother, my best friend, etc.). It occurs to me that if I focus on making sure ALL of my relationships have these qualities, finding The One won’t be such a difficult job after all.