Short answer: You can’t. And it kinda doesn’t matter. (Wait, what??)
Long answer to follow.
During my courtship with my husband, we took things seriously. We were super intentional. And I asked myself a ton of questions.
Is he the one for me?
Am I the one for him?
Will this sweet season of affection and tender words last into marriage?
Sure, we get along now, but what if the other shoe drops? (The other shoe always seems to drop.)
Does God want us to be together?
Can we serve God better together than apart?
Can we help each other become closer to Christ?
Now, some of these questions are good and healthy. And some are admittedly a bit self-absorbed.
But I’m not quite sure any of them are really the right question.
I’ve heard it more than once that there isn’t just one person for every person, that there are probably hundreds of people that you could be paired up with to be married to and you’d get along just fine and you could have a good marriage. That what it comes down to is commitment, regardless of what comes.
If I gauged the decision on whether this man were the one for me based solely on those first sweet months of courtship, then of course I could marry him. In my humanness and selfishness, I could’ve easily committed to being the wife of a man who loved me that well and told me I was adorable and bought me presents and prayed for me.
Suppose sweet man and I got married. And suppose we got back from our honeymoon. And suppose, his first day back at work, he was in some kind of accident (he said, “Gee, thanks” when I was giving him this example), and he was incapacitated from that day on.
He could no longer work and therefore could no longer provide for himself or now for us.
He could no longer walk and therefore not only could not go places with me, but he would need to be taken care of.
He could no longer reach for my hand or feed himself.
His tender words were replaced with a bitter attitude.
His faith was replaced with doubt and he therefore no longer prayed for me or wanted to read Scripture or go to church.
In other words, suppose life happened. And something happened to this sweet man that completely changed him from who I knew before marriage.
Which means the real question isn’t
how do I know if he’s the one for me?
do I have it in me to be unselfish enough and committed enough to potentially take care of this particular human being for the rest of our lives no matter what happens to either one of us?
In other words, am I ready to die to myself every day?
No one really knows what they’re signing on for when they get married, even those of us who have been married before.
No one really knows what they’re capable of.
No one can predict the future.
No one can, in all honesty, say that they are vowing to die to self when they take their marriage vows. If you think about it, what most are vowing to do is keep loving the person in front of them with the hopes that nothing huge changes.
No one really believes they’re fully ready for something like this.
No one can enter into marriage with one hundred percent certainty that all will go well.
So, in my humble opinion, though, yes, you can take personality tests and work on communication skills, and yes, it’s way better to move forward into marriage with someone who treats you well and you get along with who doesn’t have an addiction or abuse you, of course; but really, what it all comes down to is not how great the man is but instead are you ready to sacrificially love another person for a very, very long time, no matter what?
That’s the better question.
Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. –John 15:13
If this post challenged you, you should check out my upcoming e-course Remarriage Ready, starting in July!
Good point Elisabeth! Having had this sort of thing happen (long term illness, I have since recovered) I discovered that my husband of 15 years WAS not willing to die to self for me. what a blow. While this scenario may seem like a wet blanket…it can and does happen. Unfortunately this revelation in my marriage began the downward spiral of what is now a separation leading to divorce.
thank you for all you do Elisabeth! God Bless