Dan and I met on our worship team in Church. He played drums (he was the best drummer at Church…I’m obviously not biased), and I sang and played keys. We dated for 1 year and 4 months before he got down on one knee!
How did I know Dan was the one for me? I’ve never really believed in soulmates in the sense that I’ve never believed that there is one person in the whole planet that you are predestined to marry, who was created specifically for you. Call me unromantic, but I just don’t buy it. What if that person lived on the other side of the world? What if they died in childhood? What if they became a raging alcoholic in their teen years or murdered somebody? But you’re predestined right, so you have to be with them. Okay I’m being pretty hyperbolic, but I really believe that ‘The One’ is the one that you choose. As a Christian, I believe that God gives you peace, leads and confirms this decision. I also believe that God knows your steps before you’ve made them, so maybe in a sense I do believe it’s planned (by God)!
I am an ENTP, that means I’m extroverted, intuitive, a thinker and I’m spontaneous. The key thing there is that I’m a thinker. For background, the alternative to being a thinker is being a feeler. The difference between the two is that I tend to make decisions based on logic and reason, whereas a feeler would tend to make decisions based on emotions. That means, when it came to deciding whether I wanted to marry Dan or not, I had to have reasons for doing so. Yes, I was, and am, totally head-over-heels in love with him. He is just incredible, still is and always will be (I’m pretty obsessed lol). But I’m also very good at following my head and what I know is right, over what I feel.
When I listened to people talk about how they knew their significant other was the one, I got met with the response that they “just knew”. I struggle to think of anything as unhelpful as that response, it’s actually meaningless. I also think it shows a certain lack of understanding and emotional maturity (yep, I really don’t like it). Who you marry is probably the single most important decision you will make in your life, you have to have valid reasons for choosing your partner forever. Note that I have added some lessons from past relationships below. I think it’s so helpful to share these lessons so you don’t have to experience them first hand. Also, because I experienced some bad in the past, I was able to recognise when I had something amazing! So here are my reasons:
1. I had peace – I had a strong sense of peace throughout my relationship with Dan. I know what it’s like to have absolutely NO peace about a relationship, so I definitely knew the difference. I had a previous relationship where I just had a nagging feeling in my gut/spirit/heart, whatever you want to call it. I felt worried and anxious whenever I would think about spending my future with that ex, and that confirmed to me that the relationship wasn’t right. Trust your instincts, trust what your gut/spirit is telling you.
2. We had similar visions for our lives – this is a huge one, but funnily enough it is not something we specifically articulated during our relationship. Dan and I are both incredibly visionary, we dream big and we want big things from life. We want to take risks in life and build something great. So when Dan wanted to quit his job and start a UX agency in London, I encouraged him and supported him in that. When I wanted to quit my job, he supported me in that too. We both did not see marriage as settling down, but rather stepping up and being able to do more with an amazing partner by our sides, because two heads are better than one.
Now imagine if I wanted to live in a small town, have a few babies and then just live a comfortable and easy life? That would mean Dan would have had to set aside the dreams for his life and this, I believe, would lead to resentment and sadness. So do make sure that you both want similar things out of life.
Sidenote: if the guy that you’re dating is a dreamer, and wants big things in life, please make sure that he is also a hard worker and follows up on his dreams with execution. Otherwise his dreams are totally meaningless. Please also make sure you do the same!
3. He has great character and he makes me a better person – this sounds very cliché and pretty naff, but it’s true. Dan is very kind, understanding, compassionate and selfless, and he brings out those qualities in me. Looks fade and money may come and go, but character lasts a lifetime. Character can sustain a marriage, whilst money and looks cannot.
4. He is trying to be more like Jesus and leads me closer to Christ – if you’re not a Christian, this probably sounds so weird haha! But for me, as a Christian, this is really important. Dan is constantly learning from Jesus, and trying to be more like him. What does this mean? It means that Dan is always striving to be more loving, more compassionate, more patient, more kind, more peaceful, more joyful etc. Some people’s marriages fall apart because they “no longer recognise their spouse”, I believe I have an idea of what Dan will be like in 40 years time. Most likely, he will be a little bit more like Jesus.
5. He understands me and is always trying to understand me as I grow and develop – Dan is probably the most empathetic person I know. He wants to know exactly where I’m coming from so that he can act in a way that’s best for me and best for us. He sides with me, defends me and supports me. This is important when it comes to navigating everyday life with someone, and for me, it was key that he understands and is firmly on my side when it comes to my experiences of being a woman, and crucially, being a black woman.
Never dim your light to make somebody else feel comfortable.
6. He supports and encourages me, he doesn’t compete with me – I have spoken to some women who are nervous to buy a house on their own, or start a business on their own, because they are worried that it might put off guys from wanting to be with them. These amazing ladies are thinking of dulling their shine because they are worried that these guys might be intimidated by them or instinctively compete with them. This is absolutely not the kind of guy you want to be with. Look for a guy who recognises that you are an asset, and encourages you in all the incredible things that you want to do, not someone who sees it as a threat to his manhood or a competition. Please, never dim your light to make somebody else feel comfortable.
7. I would want my sons to be like him – yep, I don’t think I need to expand further on this one.
8. His friends are great guys – you might be thinking, what do your husband’s friends have to do with anything? I am a firm believer in the following saying: “show me your 5 closest friends and I will show you who you will be in 5 years’ time.” Your friends tend to be a reflection of who you are, and even more so a sign of who you are going to be. You cannot choose your family, but be very mindful of who your significant other surrounds himself with. If his closest friends are total idiots, then don’t be surprised if your man turns out to be a total idiot too 😅 (I say that, not to judge, but from experience. The same ex that I referred to before had very problematic friends. One would cheat on his girlfriend like it was a sport, and the others thought the epitome of manhood was going out, getting drunk and getting with girls. These were the ‘best friends’ that the ex would go to for advice. It was a recipe for disaster.)
9. He was/is not abusive and he does not have substance abuse problems – Even though some of you will be rolling your eyes at how obvious this is, I think it’s necessary to include it. Marriage does not solve any problems, in fact, it intensifies them. If your partner is abusive (physically, verbally, mentally or emotionally) or has substance abuse problems, you cannot change them. Let me repeat that, you cannot change them.
An ex of mine exhibited problematic behaviours and that was a big teachable moment for me. I quickly learnt that I could not change him, and that he would never change for me – he would have to change for himself. My advice is that you don’t continue with a relationship like that. What would marriage look like with a person like that? Would you want to bring children into such an unhealthy situation? Before marrying your boyfriend, you have to be okay with and willing to accept them as they are right now, because they might never ever change.
Remember, nobody is perfect. I am growing and learning, as is my husband. But there are some key traits, which I set out above, that will hugely help you in marriage.