Wedding Undergraduate: On Choosing

So Sharon, who you might know from the comments, writes over at Bride Sans Tulle. And one of her adorable bridesmaids sent me a link to this post saying it *must* go on APW, because obviously. It’s interesting to hear Sharon talk about how love is a conscious choice, because in some ways it’s in conflict with Sarah’s eloquent post on Divorce and how we choose from earlier this week. But the thing is, I agree with both posts equally (I love how life is complex like that). David and I had been platonic friends for years before we made a choice to join our lives together, to find a home. And that wasn’t a decision we had to make, it was something we chose. And the chosing is where the power was for us. The choosing and the laughter and the sharing lives. Everything else follows from there. So with that, I give you Sharon.

A question I’ve been asked a fair bit since getting engaged (I suspect most engaged ladies are asked this, too, though I wonder how many engaged men the question gets posed to…) is how did you know?  As in how did you know he was The One?  At first I floundered a bit for an answer, feeling like what people wanted to hear was some story about a grand romantic moment and… well, I didn’t have that.  In fact, when it comes to the fuzzy cam chick-flick-y expressions of love, I tend to think I was born without that gene.  Really.  The first time Jason took me out for a nice dinner at an upscale restaurant, I spent the entire evening sitting on my hands and feeling awkward and not myself.  I didn’t have a Facebook “relationship status” with him until we were engaged.  In fact, speaking of Facebook, I would ruthlessly cut him out of the frame if I wanted to use a picture of the two of us together for my profile snapshot.  If I want flowers, I buy them myself.  This isn’t to say that Jason doesn’t make romantic gestures – I’ll tell you the story of our engagement sometime.  It makes old ladies swoon.  But rather that we’re two people who tend to be fairly quiet and levelheaded about our love and find buying graphic novels for each other to be sweeter than long walks on the beach.

So anyhow, when I started finally owning the fact that I don’t even believe in this concept of “The One” (quelle horreur!) I found that I suddenly had a metaphor that I could use for telling people why marriage to this man.  So here it is:

I think dating/deciding to marry is something like deciding to buy a house and make it your home.  You figure out what’s available in your area, what works for your lifestyle, and what “must-haves” you want, and then you go looking. (note: This is, of course, a somewhat imperfect analogy as some of us aren’t “looking” when the right person comes around.  I certainly wasn’t.  But bear with me…) But the thing is… there’s not a Platonic conceit of “your house” that you just have to locate in reality.  The truth of the matter is that you will see many houses, and most of them will have some aspect of what you want.  One will have the gorgeous bay windows and gleaming hardwood floors.  Another will have the giant kitchen with the granite countertops.  A third will have a turret and built-in shelves. These are all great houses.  You can see yourself living in all of them.  But the day comes when you decide that one house is the one you’re going to buy.  You move in.  You clean.  You do a bit of painting.  You learn to live with the slight incline in the floors and to jump the creaky step in the staircase.  You have dinner parties that last until 2am in this house.  You host holidays in this house.  You bring your babies back to this house.  You could’ve had any of the houses you looked at, all those years ago.  But you chose this one and it’s now the only home you can imagine having.

So yup, that’s my long, cheesy metaphor for why Jason’s “The One.” I could say I’m marrying him because he makes me laugh or really listens when I’m upset or is not afraid of my moods.  I could say I’m marrying him because he’ll make a great father one day, because he is a great friend.  All these things are true, but it is also true that there are other people in the world who can do these things for and with me.  The fact of the matter is, I’m marrying him because we’ve growntoward one another in the entire time we’ve been dating.  Because I’ve worked on the specific faults of mine that bother him most, or are most detrimental to our particular relationship and he’s done the same.  Because we’ve chosen to learn each other’s needs and quirks and wants.  Because we’ve chosen to make this relationship our home, and that rules out the other houses.

Photo by (once like a spark) photography

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  • damn.

    I have a reoccurring dream where I am this eloquent. unfortunately, I always wake up.

    exceptionally well put Sharon.
    your Jason’s one lucky dude.

    • Bethany, I have that dream too.
      And Sharon, you put it so well.

  • Mollie

    I love this. And, as another non-“fuzzy cam chick-flick-y” person, I read this and thought it was one of the more romantic things I’ve heard about marriage.

  • Lisa

    This is such a great post. As I tell my friends (who, yes, think I’m a bit cold-hearted), love is not a magic trick, it is a choice. I have chosen my love. And I will wake up, every day, and make that choice again and again and again. And personally, I don’t think there is any one moment that could be more romantic than that.

    • Yes! In fact, my hubs and I were in Wisconsin for a wedding just a couple weekends ago and drove past a huge billboard that said:

      “LOVE IS A CHOICE.” (I believe it was for some marriage website…., or something?)

      We both saw it and thought for a moment and then discussed why that billboard was absolutely right – even though neither of us prior to that had really thought of it that way before. (James usually likes to say, “Love is an action,” which I feel like kind of ties in with the choice thing as well) :)

      Anyway, this post is just another way of saying that in many more beautiful words. (Thanks Sharon!) Because it is true. There needs to be a conscious decision to love and to continue to love year after year through all the crazy sh*t life throws at you.

      • Beth

        I basically incorporated that billboard into our wedding with this quote from M. Scott Peck:

        Love is as love does. Love is an act of will – namely, both an intention and an action. Will also implies choice. We do not have to love. We choose to love.

        Thank you Sharon for the reminder!

    • You have to wake up and make that choice again and again and again. Yes. I could “Exactly” that a million times. If you don’t make that choice daily, things probably won’t end well. I think this is the bit people don’t talk about much. (Except on APW, maybe.) Everyone goes on and on and on about the warm fuzzies and butterflies you’re supposed to feel. When that doesn’t happen every time your partner holds your hand or looks at you (because, let’s be honest, that chemical reaction eventually goes away; or at least lessens), that’s when you really do have to choose to love them.

      That’s not to say you have to LIKE them all the time. ;)

    • Engyln

      Like this quote attributed to Aristotle:
      “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
      Love, then, is also a habit.

    • S

      Yes! One of my rules for life is that a commitment is not something you make once; a commitment is something you make again and again.

    • Kathryn

      There is an absolutely wonderful poem by Wendell Berry, that he wrote for his wife, that I think sums this up perfectly. I’m not even dating anyone right now, but you better believe that I want this read at the ceremony when I do get married.

      The Wild Rose

      Sometimes hidden from me
      in daily custom and in trust,
      so that I live by you unaware
      as by the beating of my heart.

      Suddenly you flare in my sight,
      a wild rose blooming at the edge
      of thicket, grace and light
      where yesterday was only shade,

      and once again I am blessed, choosing
      again what I chose before.

      • That poem is jaw-droppingly gorgeous!

  • Moz

    Great post. I continue to find this site inspirational and this is a great example of why.

  • Why is there not an ‘exactly’ button for the post itself?! Because that’s how I feel. Exactly Exactly Exactly.

    I could have ended up with any number of men if my life had taken me in different directions. But it didn’t. So I am choosing to make my life with this very special one. And no everyone, that doesn’t mean I’m ‘settling’. It means I’m realistic enough to know that if either of us had made different decisions, we’d never have met, and that we’d quite possibly each be marrying/married too someone else right now.

    And now I have the perfect metaphor to be able to explain to everyone around me why I don’t believe in the rom-com concept of ‘the one’, but how that doesn’t make me any less romantic.

    Thanks Sharon – Exactly!

    • And also, Thanks Meg for this post. I had to stop reading some of the comments on Sarah’s post because they had the potential to make me doubt our relationship and how we have chosen one another.

      And then you follow it up with this. This is why APW will go on and on, you just somehow know what we need to hear.

      So a big thanks from me, for making everything seem ok again.

      • Anna S.

        Yes! I exactleyed your first comment because I also want to exactly this post. And then I exactleyed your second comment, because yes! I had the same thing happen as I was reading the comments on Sarah’s post, and I even commented on it because I felt like I needed to defend a love story that is not a fairy tale. So yes, yes, yes, and exactly, again.

        • Liz

          hey, guys- just sorta wanna nip this idea in the bud. i don’t think sarah (or, uh, anyone on apw) will try to paint a fairytale picture of relationships. in fact, i didn’t get that impression from the post at all- though i did notice this sentiment in the comments.

          marriage takes WORK. it takes some choices and actions, just like brilliant sharon said.

          but this work, shouldn’t always be hard. when you choose to love someone with whom you’re compatible- when you make a good choice here- that work is sometimes effortless. you enjoy putting some elbow grease into your marriage.

          i don’t think sharon and sarah’s posts are at odd- but are awesome when taken in tandem. don’t work too hard to force someone into a role in which they don’t fit. but also, don’t wait around for perfection. choose someone you love, and then continue to choose to love them.

          • Liz, you are wise and when I am dissertating in a few years, I am totally going to make you write all my chapter summaries for me. ;D

          • Liz

            aw, shucks. ;)

          • Anna

            Thank you for setting us straight, Liz. :) I am a little tender about this particular issue, largely because I waited so long to marry my husband BECAUSE of the fairytale myth. And I know APW folks are much, much wiser than that, but it was a stumbling block for me so I think that is why I react so strongly to the slightest mention of it.

  • Haha! I love this Sharon! Sweet and cute. Like that photo.

    So. This is interesting b/c while I am both feeling what you and Sarah have said I only have this to say:

    On our second date, Josh and I sat in a dimly lit Indian restaurant. (p.s. It’s the tastiest place in Baltimore and we live 2 blocks from it now. Yummers.) We were talking about our views on dating and such and when I asked him why he was dating he said, “Well, aren’t we all kind of dating to find the person we’re going to marry?” And I was in shock. I heard a little voice tell me to watch out for this guy. And your post reminds me of that night and that conversation. Although we believe more than just choosing to be with one another brought us together, there was definitely some interviewing going on, making sure we were a fit and that he had what I was looking for and vice versa.

    But I think that’s the way online dating works. You pick and choose from pictures and profiles. And even then you go on date after date and finally choose someone. And lucky me that someone is going to be my husband in 9 days. HUZZAH!

    • Liz

      NINE DAYS. aaaaaah!

      • BAAAAAAAAAAH! I know!

  • Exactly, exactly exactly!!!!

    The best part:
    ” The fact of the matter is, I’m marrying him because we’ve growntoward one another in the entire time we’ve been dating. Because I’ve worked on the specific faults of mine that bother him most, or are most detrimental to our particular relationship and he’s done the same. Because we’ve chosen to learn each other’s needs and quirks and wants. Because we’ve chosen to make this relationship our home, and that rules out the other houses.”

  • Elizabeth

    Quite simply, this is perfect. If I could pick one post of the many I’ve read here on APW, this would be the one that describes me, my feelings on love and marriage, and romance as a whole. Thank you so much for sharing what I have trouble putting into words!

  • Darcy

    Very well said.

    When a good friend of mine announced her engagement after much turmoil (her mother died, she broke up with her fiance, started dating another guy and then got engaged to him all within three months) I was concerned and sat her down for a chat/intervention.

    “He’s not perfect, but neither am I. We are willing to work on that together.” was her response. Ah now they have I fighting chance, I thought. Three years later, it’s not perfect but they choose to be together and to move forward. A friend can’t ask for more than that.

  • Erin

    “Because we’ve chosen to make this relationship our home, and that rules out the other houses.”

    This makes me want to stand up and cheer! Good words, Sharon. Thanks :)

  • Maddie

    Oh thank God for this post. YES! I sort of went into hiding when we got engaged because I was afraid that my response to all the “Squee! You’re engaged! How romantic!” would be all wrong. Like “Erm… sure. ” Some of us are just not romcom types who believe in THE ONE. I mean my husband and I chose to make each other the ONES we would spend the rest of our lives with. But this active process did not happen to us and it certainly did not involve violins or seas parting. We work to make each other THE ONE each day.

    And your analogy is sooooooo much better than mine. Equating love to job hunting makes me sounds like a terrible frau. But finding a house and making it a home? Swoon.

    • Chelsea

      Haha I had this exact same fear when I got engaged. I’m not a squealy person, so forcing the squeals seemed fake, but then NOT squealing felt like I wasn’t living up to my proper role as a newly engaged bride-to-be.

      • Lisa

        Ah, and this too is me! The looks I got when people asked about my engagement, wedding, etc! I was thrilled, yes, it is what I want, yes, but I wasn’t prepared to gush.

  • Superb!

    Perhaps getting married isn’t supposed to be romantic in the same way that “falling in love” is? Of course, (as per Sarah’s insight) it helps a whole lot that the person you marry is the same one with whom you continually fall in love. But actually trying your lives together should be the most level-headed decision we ever make.

    • Yes, this. All of this. :)

  • Jessica

    Long-time reader, first-time commenter. Sharon: this is AWESOME! love the metaphor, totally stealing it. Not even engaged, and with a man who only sees marriage as that thing you do before you have kids, but this so perfectly describes my feelings toward him and our relationship.

    Meg, thanks for posting!

  • bria leeann

    just perfect, thank you!

  • Sharon,
    You put that so beautifully! Thank you for writing this!

    Love may be something that comes easily and naturally for a while, but eventually it totally becomes a choice. When that person is so not easily loveable…but then I’m faced with the fact that I’m not always loveable, and he loves me anyway.

    We chose love.

  • Jennifer

    I love the house analogy (even though my own house situation might really be more suited for comparison to an arranged marriage to my parents’ business partner’s son, or something. I’ve long maintained that “The One” is something you decide, not something you find.

  • Bethany (the other one)

    Love it. Thanks so much, I’m emailing my fiance a link to this post right now.
    It’s so true! There’s a part in a book I love that says that you have to learn how to deal properly with one another and see whether marriage would be a wise choice. I can’t remember one unique moment of revelation. But just knowing that we’ve chosen each other, he’s going to keep working on how he deals with me, and I’m going to keep working on how I deal with him, and we have great chemistry to boot, I feel pretty good about things. We might occasionally acknowledge another house is pretty nice, but that doesn’t mean that the house we’re building isn’t exactly the one we want to be in.
    This was exactly the post I needed 3 weeks out! Thanks!

  • I was so happy to see your post here, Sharon! I loved this when you first put it up on your blog and I love it here too. Just scrumptious.

  • Sharon, what a beautifully written post!! My favorite part is when you say he is “not afraid of my moods”….. honest, endearing, and still somehow hilarious. ;o) Thanks for posting this…

  • Trudi

    What a great post!

  • K

    I so agree here!

    And I think it’s even more romantic than the concept of “The One” because you choose this person over all others.

  • Yes yes yes yes yes.

  • K writes:

    Sharon, this is so beautiful and so thought-provoking. Your analogy is actually quite similar to something my father told me when I was very young. I don’t really remember how the conversation came up, but my father (who will be celebrating the 33rd anniversary of his marriage to my mother this September) is prone to deep thoughts at random. He explained to me that he doesn’t believe in the concept of “The One,” but that, after years of life together, that person becomes “The One” because you can’t imagine a life other than the one you have chose with them for so many years. So true for us, even having only known one another for five years, and, I think, such a romantic perspective on what it is that builds and sustains a marriage.

    • Exactly! And I think that perspective is romantic in and of itself because it looks toward the future and says, “In 5, 10, 50 years time, I will love you even more than I do at this moment.” Isn’t that rad?

      • It so is! Plus, it means the romance is less about butterflies and grand sweeping gestures and more about stability and commitment in your relationship. Beautiful stuff!

        • Liz

          and the butterflies and romantic sweeping gestures (whatever they may be- whether flowers or washing the dishes) seem to spring naturally from the stability and commitment… no?

      • Zoe

        THAT is the most romantic thing I’ve ever read :)

    • Liz

      dammit, i should’ve read this comment before posting below! you said the thoughts that were rolling around in my noggin, katy.

  • this is simply put – fabulous. What a great analogy. I agree, I don’t think I believe in there being “the one”. As you said, there are other “homes” that can certainly make me laugh, other “homes” that are fantastic listeners, and others that are great at support. And then I found my home, Andrew, and yes – I totally accept the squeaky floorboard and the chipped paint in the bathroom. And I know that it’s my home and the right one, because I consciously chose to MAKE it my home.

    I think this is such a great post. Thank you Sharon for making it a lot easier for me now to explain it to other people too!

  • Jordan

    I absolutely LOVE this post! This is exactly how I feel, I have just never put it into words. The house analogy is perfect!

  • this is so beautifully put! what a great metaphor. well done! thank you for sharing.

  • So well-put. When I was in college, I used a couch metaphor to talk about the guys I dated. I mean, a couch is a serious purchase, one you have to put a lot of thought into, because if you’re anything like me, you don’t just watch TV on the couch. You read, sometimes eat (though I try not to), sleep, do crosswords on that couch. But my on-campus apartments always came with mass-produced, not-so-comfortable couches. My level of comfort with my college boyfriends mirrored the level of comfort of my *temporary* couches. And then you move on to the futons, and your roommate’s parents’ old couch (more real, comfortable, serious couches, you see).

    Okay, where is this going? What I’m trying to say is Sharon, you are totally right. Now that I’m engaged and a grown-up (whatever that means), I’m not committing to buying a couch anymore. Now we’re talking about a HOUSE. And with all the things you love about it, you take the imperfections, too. And, especially, the responsibility of maintaining this house when it needs work, which, to my understanding, is ALL THE TIME.

    Whew. I’m blowing my mind, here. Great post.

  • Sarah

    Yes. Yes yes yes and yes.

    Goodness Sharon, this was perfect.


  • Zoe

    Oh god, I needed to read this today.

    I am deeply in love with my fiance, and he was the first person I ever fell in the crazy.chemical.I’’ love. But that level of intensity, I’m not sure it can remain THAT high for years. I still love him fiercely, but when the oxytocin in my brain started to chill just the teeniest bit, I had a huge freakout. Maybe he’s not the one?! Maybe we shouldn’t get marriet?!!! This means I’ll never get to fall in love again?!!! Cue spastic crying. And after yesterday’s post — that obviously really resonated with some people — I was like “no work? what do you mean ‘easy.’ we have to work at our relationship every day! obviously there is something terribly wrong with us!!”

    Here’s the thing. I do still love him and even have butterflies. It’s just that now I can focus on other parts of my life too. Kind of freeing, really. He is the one who accepts all of my (somewhat psychotic) quirks and I do the same for him. We have fun together. We share activities and interests. I want (someday) to have a family with him. There are probably other guys out there who I could fall in love with and share interests and values with. But I choose him. And by choosing him, I get all of these gifts. Choosing does mean cutting off other options, but it also means that you get the beauty of intimacy with one person. You get someone who loves you so much, and vice versa, that they are willing to keep making that choice every day and not take things for granted. Our relationship is not perfect, and maybe not rom-com fated, or blog post beautiful, but it works for us.

  • Jen M

    The romantic girly girl part of me wanted to yell NO NO NO at this post. But then I found myself saying EXACTLY to all of it! lol…this reminded me of a conversation I had with an old friend about my soon to be fiancee and he said, “it’s not that I don’t like B. I think he’s great, but I feel like you could find someone a little more attentive…” Uh, yeah, I could also find someone that plays in an indie rock band, or writes me poetry, or is a hot punk-rock chef (i always thought all of those would be fun). But that’s not the point, is it? The point is to find someone who fits you so well, you’re willing to forgo the other little extras and squeeze in the parts you never thought you’d want.

    • Plus, the thing is that all those imaginary people you think might be fun to date or marry or whatever… they’re only imaginary. I mean, guys in indie rock bands must have to be away from home a lot, chefs work crazy hours. I’m marrying a writer who’s hugely involved in the poetry scene here in Boston, and I can tell you that pretty much never translates into him writing me poetry. My parents always used to say that the challenges of a house were what gave it character – true here too, I think. :)

    • When I first read this I thought I can’t see love and marriage in that way. I’m absolutely not a lovey girly girl about this stuff but struggled a little with the analogy. But actually when I read it again I toatally changed my mind. Maybe when you recognise that you are making a choice to be with someone even though there are other options that makes it more meaningful. It reminded me of something my fiance said when I was having a wobble about the whole idea of marriage after yet another couple of friends split up. He said that you can never know when you go into a marriage that it will work out for sure but you can know that you love the person and that you have both chosen to always work to build on and protect what you have and allow it to grow and change. I’m sure he put it better than me. We’re not perfect, we do things that annoy each other but we are never mean or nasty to each other ( unlike my previous relationships) because we respect each other and we want to make this work

      • Liz

        i find it comforting, more than anything. because it’s not a matter of “making the right choice” or “knowing what else is out there.”

        it’s a matter of making a choice based on logic and chemistry, and then working with what you got.

        i can do that.

  • Cupcake

    Excellent excellent excellent! I love reading about other people’s views on marriage and relationships as choices. The fact that I chose my fiance, and was not destined to be with him, is very important to me and my outlook on life. Sharon’s house-buying metaphor is great, I think it applies really well. So many people are appalled when I tell them (after they bring it up) that Dan is not the only man in the world I could possibly marry, but he is the best I have found and the one worth not moving on from. We are now at the point where we have moved in together (just a few weeks ago) and are getting to know each other’s metaphorical leaky roofs, creaky stairs, and rusty hardware. And it’s great. I’m not disappointed that my One True Love never shuts the closet door, even though he knows the psycho kitten could easily get in there and destroy our nice suits, I’m kind of delighted to know that that is one of his faults. It’s like becoming familiar enough with your house that you are certain of where to put the furniture so as to not be bothered by the creaky floorboard or weird air flow that the old heating system creates. Sharon, it looks like you have a good head on your shoulders. Good luck with your marriage!

    • KristieB

      Some of us love old houses with creaky floors, too small kitchens and leaky faucets. It’s what gives them charm.

      • Liz

        i would never, ever want to live in a pristine mansion.

        • Eliza

          From someone who has – you’re totally right. It’s creepy. I spent my teen years in one and haaaaaaated it. Moved out and swore to never do it again. Interestingly, I feel the same way about men! Give me complicated over ostensibly perfect any day.

  • This, this is just right. I’ve tried to explain this many times before (never as eloquently, of course) and the house analogy is perfect. Thanks!

  • Desiree

    Beautiful post!
    – know for myself that love just hit me, but I did make the choice to let that love grow. I know that all the things my FH and I had been through separately, gave us a better understanding of the other and it all fit together. Yes, we did grow towards one another and we choose to love and live together for all of our lives. We are getting married in 9 days and I am so happy but people think I’m kinda cold because I’m not a big ball of SQUEEL!
    Anyway, I love the house analogy…. It makes such sense!
    Love it all!

  • I am so glad that you wrote this. As someone who grew up with the idea of arranged marriage, it can be hard to process the pressure in American culture to find one perfect soul mate. It makes me constantly unsure of my choices, thinking maybe my relationship isn’t romantic enough because it doesn’t look like a Disney movie.

    • Anna S.

      Carolyn, I would be very interested in hearing more about what that transition was like for you… I wonder if you might consider (and Meg might post) a guest post?

      • Thanks :) It’s a slow transition that I’m still working on! I’ll start working on writing something and see how it turns out.

  • Wow! I’m sure most ladies who have been asked that question have always been looking for this answer! I know what I’ll tell the next person who asks me “how did you know?”.

    Thanks for this, total mind opener!

  • Katelyn

    I see I have a lot of kindred spirits here on APW :) Maybe once, when I still watched ‘Cinderella’ and believed it true, I believed in true love, and maybe more importantly, this concept of ‘love at first sight’. But since then I paid a little more attention to the world, and saw how my parents work hard to be more than just in love- they’re best friends and confidantes. And I started to see how people who could be described as ‘passionately in love’ were not necessarily good life partners.

    My guy and I have a pretty different/weird progression of our relationship. We starting dating at the end of senior year of high school. But the relationship we had then and the relationship we have now are so night and day I’m reluctant to tell anyone we started dating in high school, dreading the term “high school sweethearts”.

    The fact is, I’m so fortunate to have found someone who has grown up with me and continues to push me to be a better, bigger, person than what I am. And I like to think I do the same for him. We’ll never be “grey-faced adults” as Meg so accurately described long ago, because we won’t let each other get that way.

  • I love analogies, and Sharon, you explained yours so beautifully. Most people do want that romcom answer to “How did you know?”. Your answer is a great balance between staying true to yourself but also providing people with a satisfying response. love it!!!

  • Perfect. This is exactly it. There was no “stereotypical Hollywood moment”. It just was.

  • Margaret

    THIS IS HOW I FEEL! Thank you so much for putting it so beautifully.

  • FK

    YES!! I just wrote a big long comment that accidentally got deleted, so I’ll just say, Thank You!! This was a much-needed (for me) counterpoint to the recent posts. Thanks, Meg, for playing like that and Sharon for articulating these thoughts so beautifully.

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  • I thought this was very well-put, and actually an old professor of mine has a similar theory (i.e. there is no “one”):

    One important thing I’d like to (hopefully) clarify though, is that notion of painting and sprucing up your house, which could be read as changing your partner (though I don’t really think that’s how Sharon meant it). I think a lot of people get into a trap where they are not marrying their partner “as is”, but rather the (often idealized) idea of who their spouse is going to be. I have seen several marriages end when eventually, they realize that they can’t fundamentally change someone to fit their needs or wants, or that person feels pressured to be something they’re not. It’s really scary to watch, actually.

    I love that you mentioned fixing your own flaws in order to suit your partner’s needs better, and in the best relationships, the ones built to last, this happens on both sides. But it cannot be forced. Yes, you can support a person, push them to follow their dreams, even ask them to change a minor thing or two about their behavior that really irks you. But if you are thinking (and I know most APW readers are smart enough not to do this) that you can fundamentally change a person after you’re married, don’t get married! Being in a happy, healthy, loving relationship is going to change people, definitely for the better. And as we grow older, we change. But in my experience, it happens organically. You can’t force a person who is content with their situation at work, for example, to suddenly become much more ambitious and push for a management position because you’d like the bigger paycheck (MacBeth syndrome). Oftentimes they will want to do it anyway, to provide better for their family, etc. But you can’t force it.

    I’m not yet married (very soon though!), but I have a lot of friends and family that have been in great relationships for a long time and I see what works. I also have a significant number of friends and family that have been through divorce (even divorceS). So while I am no expert, I did want to share this one piece of wisdom I have gleaned from their experiences. That is, when joining your life with someone, you need to wholly accept them, with all their glorious qualities and all of their faults (eloquently mentioned in above metaphor as the slight incline or creaky floors). You commit to each other as is, knowing that each of you will change, your life situations will change, everything will not always be perfect. But what you really commit to is trying, working hard, to keep your relationship strong through all of the change. And that means a lot of honesty, trust, patience, and forgiveness. You are not perfect. They are not perfect. But you can be perfect for each other. (Somewhat stolen from Tom Robbins, but applicable to argument.) Anyway, I know this probably didn’t need to be said here, and thanks for listening to me preach, but I just had to get it out there… just in case. I have seen way too many peoples’ relationships end over unrealistic expectations.

    • Absolutely, this. I commented on another post earlier this week that it actually terrifies me when I hear some of my women friends say they can’t wait to change XYZ about their significant others. I strongly believe that at the moment you say yes, the man himself (or woman herself) must be enough.

    • Liz

      painting is very different than tearing out a wing and adding on a balcony.

      when you buy a house, you pick a house that you could continue to happily live-in even if nothing changes for the better. but routine maintenance is good for the HOUSE. not just those living in it.

      am i taking your analogy too far, sharon, haha?

      • Haha I like the routine maintenance analogy and yes, a little “sprucing up” probably won’t hurt, especially if he is tidying up his house as well. ;) But I guess I’m just a little sensitive about this since I had a very close friend recently end her marriage after her husband failed to live up to expectations – it’s really sad, and while I don’t think any of you APW ladies have to worry about it, I think it’s something everyone should ask themselves before taking that plunge – will I live in this house even if nothing changes? Love it.

  • andthebeautyis

    Shortly after Boy & I decided we wanted to get married, I was driving with my older, less-experienced brother. I said, “It’s not that I love him *more* than previous boyfriends. The love I feel isn’t ‘like I’ve never felt before.’ But he is everything that I’ve learned I need, and he doesn’t hesitate to love me with his whole self. He’s open and committed to growing that love with me. So I *will* love him more than I’ve loved anyone, but not until we’ve been together for awhile and understood what that ‘looking-into-the-future-together’ love is. Marriage is recognizing the greatness of what you have, and committing to let it grow.” And he said, “Well, that sounds like the view of someone who’s dated a lot.”
    Oh, brother, just wait.

  • mere…

    I want to print this out and carry it around with me for people to read when the subject of marriage & “The One” come up. It’s something I completely agree with, but could never say so beautifully. Thank you (a dozen times over)!

  • Sarah

    I really love this analogy, and not only because it meshes with my idea of love as a choice and marriage as a deliberate decision to make a relationship work with this person, rather than as a one-true-soul-mate pairing.

    I also love the analogy because while searching for a home, I had a list of preferences, but was also willing to toss that list after walking into a place and feeling like it was a good fit. This analogy leaves room for feeling a particular connection to another person, and deciding that it is worth negotiating some items missing from the ideal list in order to sustain a commitment.

  • Kristen

    I wish you could EXACTLY! an entire post. Because I would.

  • ML

    This. Gave. Me. Warm. Fuzzies.

  • KristieB

    Exactly, exactly, exactly!

    This post is the one that sounds exactly like me. The metaphor is perfect.

    To the dismay of many of my friends and family, I have never believed in “the One.” In fact, I think that idea and the whole ‘happily ever after’ thing (don’t even get me started on rom-coms) are the reasons people are never satisfied with relationships.

    A friend of mine split from his wife a couple years ago. When I heard, I told him “you know, you go through your childhood believing in ‘happily ever after,’ but the reality is that Cinderella is married to someone with a shoe fetish, Snow White is having an affair with a dwarf, Sleeping Beauty hates being a stay-at-home mom, and Belle wishes the Beast would just be a Beast…. There is no ‘happily ever after’ or ‘the One.” The reality is that marriage and relationships are effing hard. You choose to be present or not present – every day. You give things a chance, you give it your best – and you’ll keep doing it because deep down you know it’s worth it. Really, love is the only thing that is.”

  • It’s funny because I find myself somewhere between both ideas: I definitely don’t believe in “the one” man I am destined to marry. I could’ve ended up any number of men… and there are many thousands more out there, in other countries, with whom I’d probably be compatible. Yes, we mesh particularly well, but I also love him because we’ve spent so much time together and made so many memories. I might feel similarly about many men, had I spent 5 years with them, too.

    But at the same time, I do believe in chemistry, as much as I hate that hackneyed concept. The logical side of me didn’t even want to fall in love at the time… it just happened. And I’d scoffed at the idea of “falling” into anything, until I did, without quite knowing how. I’d gone out with men who were more “suitable,” on paper and felt nothing. I feel strongly that he is the only one I want, and I felt that way very early on, before I had a chance to “weigh” his merits. And there was absolutely no logic involved in choosing him… it was deeper, more elemental. Maybe it was simply lust + brain chemicals released post-sex?

    So I guess I really like the *idea* of choosing to love someone… but I don’t know if I fully understand the mechanics behind it yet….

    • Oh, trust me, I believe very strongly in the need for chemistry. Part of why Jason and I suit each other so well can only be explained by chemistry. But like Saartjie said above, choosing to marry felt – to me – entirely different than falling in love did.

    • Katelyn

      I don’t think the ideas of having chemistry and not finding “The One” are contradictory. It’s about *after* the chemistry happens. The “what if there’s a better person out there because I’m not sure if this is my soulmate” internal conversation.

      The fact is, there very well could be someone “better” for you, that you could love “more” or be more compatible with. But if you have true, deep happiness and satisfaction (the kind that you feel underneath the daily fluctuations), why bother to keep looking? There’s what? 6 BILLION other people to sift through, when you’re perfectly happy with the one sitting right in front of you. That’s the choice that you have to make. To not glorify love as being something more than it is, because it takes more than love to make a lasting relationship.

    • Liz

      oh yes, chemistry is essential. you can’t force a relationship with someone with whom you don’t “click.” but you also don’t just “fall in love” and let the chips fall where they may.

      you very carefully choose someone who fits the bill- someone you feel good around, enjoy spending time with, are attracted to, share common interest with… and then you work to make those squishy feelings stick around. chemistry comes first, working to make it last comes after.

      but you can’t make something “last” if it was never there in the first place.

  • KristieB

    Oh…..I loved the house metaphor because I’ve said very recently:

    It isn’t that D is the person I’ve loved the most. It isn’t that he is perfect. It isn’t that he is the funniest, best looking, most charming… It is just that from day one, when I was with him, I finally felt like I was finally home.

  • Btw, has anyone read this book? The title intrigues me and seems like it might fit into this concept…

    Everybody Marries the Wrong Person

  • april

    “Because we’ve chosen to make this relationship our home, and that rules out the other houses.”

    Read the entire post, got to that bit at the end, and totally got choked up… Such an eloquent post today – LOVE IT!!!

  • Kashia

    Like so many others in the APW community, I don’t believe in THE ONE, but rather that we choose someone and they choose us that choice makes them the-one-I-chose.

    The funny thing is that for someone as unromantic as I am, I ended up having that “moment” of revelation about my fiance. We had known each other when we were kids and lost touch for about 10 years, then ended up moving to the same city at the same time and decided to meet up for dinner to catch-up. It was fun, and relaxed and over the course of the evening things moved from old friends to first date. The next morning I remember thinking “I could marry this guy. Wait… Holy S**t I could MARRY this guy?” It wasn’t that I had to marry him, or that he was the only possibility for me, rather that he could be, that I could make that choice. (Needless to say we dated for several years before we made that choice).

    So when people ask “when did you know?” I really don’t want to tell them that it was the day after our first date, because that wasn’t when we decided that this was going to be our home (to borrow Sharron’s analogy) rather it was when I realized that it was a choice that I could make IF I wanted to, if things went well, if I could live with his faults and he could live with mine. Because “I knew after our first date” sounds too rom-com and I think that it ignores the whole concept of choosing love and living with imperfection in yourself and your partner and carving out the shape of your lives together without loosing your authentic self and a whole lot of other things that come into play when you are making that decision to elect this person to the One I choose.

    • Lethe

      Haha. It’s funny – I know what you mean because the same thing happened to me. (And I’m not really a big romantic or anything – I’ve never really held to any notion about “soulmates,” and of course I believe in the notion of love as a choice.) My fiancee and I were friends for a couple years before we started dating, but just before the first time we held hands I distinctly thought – you know, if you do this, you’re PROBABLY going to end up marrying this person! Maybe I sort of realized that given the compatibilities we had, and the way we felt about each other already, if ANYTHING started it would inevitably be something long-lasting. So, I thought about it for a split second, had a bit of an “ok, here goes!” moment and decided I was up for that adventure. And yep, that was six years ago, and the wedding’s in nine months. ;)

  • kat

    Agree completely! This is definitely how I look at my relationship with my bf. I tried describing this to my sister and a friend and they got all “oh, but don’t you believe in fate? how can you say he’s not the one?” But what I’m saying is, he *is* the one, the one I’ve chosen who has chosen me right back. Our relationship isn’t perfect, but it works. Could I have made it work with someone else? Yes, probably. But I choose him.

  • Vee

    Yup, I think EXACTLY sums it up for me! =)

  • My fiance and I have started using APW as a conversation topic every evening- we discuss the story of the day and what we think, or what we’d do in a similar situation. This post is yet another reason why this site is perfect. Wonderfully written, Sharon. :)

    • Fliss – Any Other Wedding

      What a totally fantastic idea!

    • Liz

      my husband has been forced most unwillingly into this, haha.

      i don’t come home and talk about the office. i come home and talk about what i did on apw all day.

    • Theresa

      I do it with my hubs too, and started while we were still engaged! He really likes most of the posts, and we’ll talk agree-disagree-why-this-is-so-great about them all! I usually post them on his facebook, only because I know OTHER friends of mine wait to see what I’ve posted there! I shared this one just now.

      LOVE it, and I know that I’ve found my home. :)

  • Liz

    i’m gonna controversify this post a bit by thinking aloud.

    i totally agree with all that you say, sharon- we’re bloggy soulmates or something. (okay, so maybe there’s no such thing as ROMANTIC soulmates, but allow me a bloggy soulmate, ok??)

    i think josh has BECOME the one. when i picked him initially, yeah. there was chemistry. there were good looks and laughs and commonalities. but then i made the choice to love him, to love ONLY him, and to work at making our relationship lasting.

    and in that process, josh has become “the one.” he hasn’t become perfect- nor have i (clearly). but we certainly have become better and better suited for one another- to the extent that i could never imagine seeing another man.

    love is so amazingly complex. it’s comprised of all of these intangibles, and yet all of this work and conscious choice. both emotion and logic. all rolled into one.

    • Katelyn

      I’ll stir the pot and say I disagree. My guy is awesome and all, and we are together for good. But if, heaven forbid, something went wrong, I have full faith that I could find someone who makes me as happy and fulfilled. Sure, it will take time to develop the understanding and trust, but that’s how relationships work.

      I guess I feel that way because that is a constant force that actually drives our relationship, which developed about 2 years in, after a little breakup and self-reflection. I’m a worry-wart. So I was constantly second-guessing why were together and feeling very needy and unsure. Until one day, I realized, I can’t guarantee the future, so I have to life in the present and just roll with it.

      It’s not about some kind of need for each other. Our relationship is not oxygen. It’s about choosing, each and every day, to stay, because we *want* to. And we’re rational beings and see that times get tough (and sometimes, like, really really tough), but have that underlying feeling (that I believe Liz herself described yesterday) that drives us to keep on keeping on.

      Having this kind of perspective on the relationship soothes me. Because, would life suck without him? Yeah, a lot, at first. But I’m still me without him. He just makes me… more me. I can survive without him, but I *choose* not to.

      • Liz

        i’m not sure that i intimated that my relationship is my oxygen, or sustains me or whatever. i’ll admit i sometimes have this backward-thinking feeling of, “what would i do without him?!” (but that’s mostly since being pregnant, and hey, i’m hormonal. so be it.)

        the truth is. i would survive without him. and i may even get married again, if he were in some tragic accident (god forbid, knock on wood, etc etc). i know a few people who married someone they loved dearly. and then they died, and they married someone ELSE they loved dearly. and it didn’t negate the truth of their love for the first person at all.

        in my selfish, naive, finite perspective- i would never want to live without josh.

        but could i? probably.

        i would just rather not try, if given the option.

        • peanut

          I agree 110%. As a worrier, I’ve about the worst-case scenario in our relationship – something happening to my partner and leaving me single – and while I would be devastated, I don’t think it would be unrealistic to think that I could fall in love with and marry someone else. I also would want my partner to “move on” and fall in love again if something were to happen to me.

        • Moz

          As always, nicely put Liz :)

  • Mary L

    Thank you for this post!
    My fiance and I were in a long distance relationship for over two years while we were dating and it certainly gave the relationship a more practical feeling rather than some sort of fuzzy, bubbly, romantic comedy type one.
    While acknowledging that it takes WORK and nobody, including yourself, is perfect can be very un-sexy it is a great and lasting foundation for a life together.

  • I also never had a big dramatic swept-off-feet moment when I knew my husband was THE ONE. It was just years and years of small moments where we kept acting out of love for each other, where we kept getting each other, where we clumsily navigated through arguments and disagreements but were able to learn and change, apologize to each other and forgive each other, and ultimately understand each other better.

    It’s not that we tried to change for each other, or tried to fix each other. But our ways of growing and changing as individual human beings have proved to be compatible. We’ve been together almost 10 years, through all of our 20s. I’ve certainly grown up a lot and changed a lot in that time, and so has he. We’ve found that the people we are now work even better together than the people we were 10 years ago.

    I get wary of saying “love is a choice” and “relationships/marriages are work,” because I was once in a relationship where I felt duty-bound to stay even though I was constantly unhappy, and it led me to ignore all kinds of red flags and even abuse. I felt like I’d made a commitment and had to stick with it. I felt like if I just tried harder, if we just talked it over more, we could work it out and things would be perfect again. But something was fundamentally broken in the way we related to each other.

    If there’s not a basic level of enjoying your partner — if your relationship consists entirely of dealing with relationship problems, and that person just makes you miserable and unhappy — or if there’s abuse — then no amount of duty, loyalty, or work is worth it.

    But it’s also true that you’re not always ZOMG IN LOVE. Sometimes your partner will do things that are annoying and irritating, or you’ll disagree about how to proceed with something, and you have to figure out how to talk about that and reach an agreement with respect and love for your partner. In those moments you are making a choice to work together, figuring out how to assert what you want while still respecting your partner and taking into account what he or she wants.

    Interestingly enough, in that broken, abusive relationship, a big part of my sense of duty came from my belief that we were soulmates and meant to be together, no matter how bad things got. My husband and I, by contrast, have always agreed that we don’t HAVE to be together. We’re whole people without each other — people who could find happiness and love elsewhere. I think this has made our relationship much stronger. We are together because we choose to be, because we derive happiness from each other. (That doesn’t mean we’re necessarily happy every second or that we never get angry or sad with each other. But overall we make each other happy.)

    And yes, we still consider that true now that we are married. Marriage just made it public and explicit that both of us intend to keep choosing to work together — because it’s rewarding to do so. But if it was no longer rewarding, for one or both of us, marriage doesn’t require us to make ourselves miserable out of duty.

    We choose to love each other because it keeps making us happy to make that choice. That’s it. Neither cosmic soulmate-dom nor a sense of duty compels us to make that choice.

    • Liz

      love has to be the choice of both involved.

      i, too, was in relationships where i felt that if i JUST loved them more, then things could work. no matter what he called me/threw at me/else he slept with.

      but just as i need to choose to love someone- they need to choose to love me back.

  • Alis

    I have been thinking about this a lot. Like, a lot a lot. I have seen myself, when I have gazed into that misty future, with a few other people. Now I’m with someone amazing, spectacular, etc. and I wondered “WHY did I see myself in the future with others? WHY?!” Then I take a second and I realize, there are 7 billion-ish people on this planet. Likelihood there is ONE and ONLY ONE person who is THE ONE? Slim to none. But the things about this one? Make it so he could be the One, if we decide. But it’s because we’ll decide.

    All of that was just to say: loved this post. It put everything I was thinking into a eloquent and cohesive post.

    • Liz

      and if there is ONE. what happens if you pick the wrong one? and then The One of course marries the wrong one. and so forth and so on… then everyone ends up with the wrong mate. because YOU picked wrong.

      loads of pressure.

    • Erin

      You have to buy into a lot of determinism when you drive onto that road, because otherwise it leads in all kinds of crazy directions. Makes for good rom-coms (“No, Julia Roberts, don’t walk down that aisle! He’s not the ONE!” to “awwwww, they finally found each other!!!”), but guarantees we may as well all be DOOMED in real life, hehe.

      Once I thought about what a big world this is, and realized, “shoot, what if the One for me lives on the Faroe Islands?” I figured I’d either have to take up interoceanic yachting, or start looking more closely at the people around me already.

      I married the one I’ll keep choosing, but, go figure, we just bought a sailboat :)

  • Jenni

    Wow … I just want to thank you for writing this. I’ve been reading this blog for a while and this is the first time I’ve commented. What you wrote was so eloquent and really summed up how I feel about my relationship and love in general. No, it wasn’t love at first sight and being swept off my feet … but it is a conscious, continuous choice, and that somehow makes it even better.

    On a different note, this post reminds me of the song “If I Didn’t Have You” by Tim Minchin. (

  • ka

    This was good stuff. From such a level-headed, practical post, I feel all warm and fuzzy. Sharon, that was truly the most awesome analogy ever…especially for someone like myself who is completely addicted to HGTV’s House Hunters…

    Since so much has been said already, I decided to clip the nuggets of wisdom from the comments so far that I want to highlight and keep with me always:
    “Because we’ve chosen to make this relationship our home, and that rules out the other houses.” – Sharon

    “And I will wake up, every day, and make that choice again and again and again.” -Lisa

    “don’t work too hard to force someone into a role in which they don’t fit. but also, don’t wait around for perfection. choose someone you love, and then continue to choose to love them.” – Liz

    “Perhaps getting married isn’t supposed to be romantic in the same way that “falling in love” is?” – Saartjie

    “Love may be something that comes easily and naturally for a while, but eventually it totally becomes a choice. When that person is so not easily loveable…but then I’m faced with the fact that I’m not always loveable, and he loves me anyway.”- Faith

    “He explained to me that he doesn’t believe in the concept of “The One,” but that, after years of life together, that person becomes “The One” because you can’t imagine a life other than the one you have chose with them for so many years.” -Katy’s Dad

    “Here’s the thing. I do still love him and even have butterflies. It’s just that now I can focus on other parts of my life too. Kind of freeing, really.” -Zoe
    (I have to re-Exactly! this – I think I forget sometimes how much more I can get done not having to spend time dating or analyzing text msgs or Facebook stalking…)

    “Uh, yeah, I could also find someone that plays in an indie rock band, or writes me poetry, or is a hot punk-rock chef (i always thought all of those would be fun). But that’s not the point, is it? The point is to find someone who fits you so well, you’re willing to forgo the other little extras and squeeze in the parts you never thought you’d want.” -Jen M

    “i find it comforting, more than anything. because it’s not a matter of “making the right choice” or “knowing what else is out there. it’s a matter of making a choice based on logic and chemistry, and then working with what you got. i can do that.” -Liz

    “I also love the analogy because while searching for a home, I had a list of preferences, but was also willing to toss that list after walking into a place and feeling like it was a good fit.” -Sarah

  • Abby C.

    Yes, yes, YES! I too lack that girly, romantic fluffy gene and it has always scared me. This is exactly how I feel and exactly what I needed to read. I feel so much better. Thank you so much!

  • Ashley

    A thousand times yes! This post says exactly what I’ve been trying to put into words for a while now.

  • I’m with you on the “how did you know” conundrum.

    I don’t know how I knew. I just knew. It just happened. I just realized one day that not only could I love him, but I did. There are the romantic stories. But really it just is what it is. And from there we chose to see where else it would go.

  • Great post Sharon! There are so many ways to look at things & I like your perspective; it’s very cool. I never have an answer when people ask me how I knew my fiance was The One either. Yet I’ve never known something more true than the fact he is The One. Good luck on your upcoming marriage!!

  • Monica

    My fiance is not perfect, but he is perfect for ME. And I’ll happily enjoy a lifetime of that, thank you very much!!!

  • peanut

    I haven’t read through the comments, because I read your analogy and had to race to the bottom to say that I knew my partner was “the One” when I felt like I was Home. I didn’t quite know how to explain this to others (or myself) until your perfectly phrased description above. Yes, there could be more than one the One, and if the timing in our lives was something different we wouldn’t have met and/or been together, but I both fell in love with and chose him and now there is no other possible Home.

    Thank you for this!

    • I have been avoiding posting a comment to this post today because I honestly don’t think it is in conflict with my post from the other day. Not at all. But some people seem to think I wrote about a love-is-blind-faith love story. What I actually wrote was this sentiment exactly. When we held hands, I knew I was home. So thank you.

      • peanut

        I agree, Sarah – I don’t see the conflict between the two posts either.

      • Class of 1980

        I’ve avoided it also. I think some readers have read things into your post and the responses that simply are not there. And perhaps missed the most important points.

        I genuinely don’t understand what the conflict is, because I don’t think your post laid down any expectation of finding “The One”. I thought your post explained how to know when someone was right for you, as compared to being all wrong for you.

        • Liz

          i’ll be honest- i don’t see the conflict either. but not only because the two ideas presented by sarah and sharon are not in competition (they’re complementary, really) but also because very few comments have hinted that they are (one? two??).

          why are we still dwelling on the one or two folks who misinterpreted what sarah said? (over the internet for crying out loud- which happens all the time.) for every APW post, there are always a few comments of, “yeah but…” and then the flipside.

          love and marriage are both complex, and not every post will explore every facet. in response to a post about, say, chemistry someone might say, “yes, but you can’t survive ONLY on chemistry…” well, duh. but we talk about that all the time, and this post is about chemistry and we can’t talk about ALL of it ALL the time. on my post about sex, people commented, “it’s not all about sex.” yes, but THIS post is. so we’re focusing on sex. it’s the nature of the beast.

          i’m not sure that perpetuating an “us vs them” mentality furthers the conversation.

          • Class of 1980

            I wanted to give support to Sarah and point out there was no conflict.

          • I also feel I need to throw my two cents in here and say that I personally was completely honored to have my post “paired” with Sarah’s and I see no conflict between what the two of us are saying. It’s really just two sides of the same coin. Sarah has wise, wise things to say about love and I’m glad she chooses to share that wisdom with us!

          • peanut

            Meg’s intro said that “in some ways” there was a conflict between the two posts, and I just didn’t get it. That’s all.

          • Alyssa

            Just as upsetting as it can be when a post’s intent is misinterpreted, it’s just as upsetting when a commenter’s take is misinterpreted. Our job as moderators is to quash any possible threads of thought that may lead down a less neutral path in terms of critical comments on a personal level rather than a comment on their opinion. (hence Liz’s comment when the fairytale aspect was first brought up.) We want to nudge everything a little back to center and that’s not necessarily a reflection on the comments that are currently made but one on what we fear they might become. Support to one side implies opposition to another side and we just need a reminder that we’re all on the same side with different view and opinions of the same beautiful thing. We know that’s not your ladies’ intent. It’s just what we were asked to do and why we’re all pink and stuff. :-)

  • Thank you for this post. My boyfriend feels like home. And that means that i do all the things with him that i do in my home, including hanging out in my pjs for far too long. I don’t feel like i have to be or do anything else with him other than just be me. Maybe that takes away a bit of the mystery but it does feel so nice to feel that someone knows who i am.

    I haven’t chosen him as my home yet. I’m still in the process of choosing and sometimes it’s terrifying to wonder what my life will be like without those french doors that i always dreamed of. It’s very, very nice to hear from others, especially after yesterday’s post, that not everybody believes in the one or has experienced those “you just know” moments. It’s nice enough to wake up every morning feeling at home.

  • DamnGina

    (Hi, I’m DamnGina – first time caller, long time listener). I, like Sarah and a lot of posters, don’t believe in “The One.” I think there are many possible “Ones” out there. So I’ve struggled when people as me how I knew my fiance is “the one.” The most honest short response I’ve ever been able to come up with is, “I never have to buy soap, I haven’t carried anything that weighs more than 10lbs since we’ve been together, and he makes me genuinely believe that I can be a better person.”

    I have found that this is generally not the expected answer.

    But Sarah’s post speaks directly to why I’m so excited to marry this man. For us, love is a choice and has very little to do with flowers. We found each other, went to the open-house, got the inspection, and the long list of the things wrong with each other but still decided it was worth making a go of it. Because our instincts are to tend to each other as carefully as we tend to ourselves. That’s why soap is what clinched it for me – it’s an example of how he’s always finding ways to make our life easier and I believe I can be better with him to support me and I want to be better to better support him. And I think that’s a recipe for 50 years of happy living.

  • I so love this post.

    Everything in it is so true.

  • Erin

    Oh thank goodness. I’ve been serious with my guy for two years now and know I want to keep growing toward him (and him toward me). But, a product of the chick flick generation, I’m plagued by the “how do I knows?”s and the “what if”s and the “is there someone else out there who could do what he does for me?”s. And the answer is yes, of course. And that doesn’t mean that we can’t make a life together or that we don’t have a strong relationship. I knew that, but I needed to hear it from someone else. So, thank you thank you thank you.

  • Cat

    Thank you so much for sharing this, Sharon! I think this is exactly what I needed to hear. My boyfriend is always telling me about things I do that he hates, and I’m always telling him about things HE does that I hate, and sometimes it makes me think that we’re not supposed to be together despite the fact that we love each other. But after reading this, I’ve realized that we just have to paint the house and learn to live with some of the more unsavory aspects of it.

    • Liz

      tricky tricky. because, yeah. we all have our annoying flaws. but this is where we need to be careful that there aren’t TOO many incompatibilities. it’s slippery because there aren’t really hard and fast rules- so are you gonna disagree on some things? hell yeah. but should that happen all the time? um, no.

      • Cat

        Yeah, I think “always” was definitely the wrong word. I have a flair for the dramatic, so I feel like it’s always, when in reality it’s not even weekly. There are times when I feel like my boyfriend and I are best-friend-roommates and not a couple, but I’m starting to think that that’s just how we work. And that’s okay. There’s nothing wrong with your boyfriend being your best friend. Neither of us are really showy and affectionate, and I think I had fallen slightly into the “chick-flick” category of women, where we’ve been brainwashed into thinking that Julia Roberts and Sandra Bullock movies are how life really works.

        …If this comment doesn’t make sense it’s because I’m TOTALLY high on cold medicine right now and I’m coming down from a fever. =(

        • Liz

          haha, too funny. i was going to say, “ALWAYS?! always?!?? get out get out!”

          but then i realized that i say, “always,” about eveeerything.

          like that. when i just said “everything”. probably also an exaggeration.

          • Cat

            Haha! Damn that slang, and the whole “using-words-in-the-wrong-way” thing that is so common nowadays!

  • zannie

    I think what is powerful in this point of view (and this wonderful analogy) is that thinking this way we take full responsibility for our relationship. There’s no „it’s not my fault! I fell in love! Some ambiguous fate threw me into this relationship!” as well as there is no „I hate this house! Everything’s wrong! Why was it given to me? I would have chosen so much better!”. When love isn’t something that falls on you from the sky or is forced on you (and the view of love as seen in romantic comedies often seems this way) you become responsible for it. You have to make it work, and be beautiful and be your home, not just a house. Your relationship is what you and your partner make of it. Marriage and love seem more scary when you look at them this way, but also – more powerful, and strong.

  • I completely adore the house metaphor. Thank you so much for sharing this post and all the truth and wisdom it contains!

  • Alyssa

    I’ve been off for the last two days, but still reading and I just want to echo the sentiments on a GREAT post Sharon! Your story, just like pretty much every one that Meg puts up, struck a chord with a lot of people.

    I love that we’ve had a lot of just plain “practical” posts this week. Bare bones, not typical, honest, realistic and so anti-WIC and MIC (Marital Industrial Complex).
    They’re s’Knot.
    As in, “it’s SO not the Knot.”

    Okay, fine, I apologize. But you know that I mean.

    Can’t wait to see your graduate post, Sharon!

    • Erin

      Um, Alyssa I’m shocked no one else picked up on this. S’Knot. Classic. This should go in the Team Practical glossary!

  • AH! This is EXACTLY how I feel when I contemplate getting engaged to my boyfriend. Thank you for such a great metaphor that I can now use when I discuss *why* I want to marry him. And I agree about The One. If I were restricted by this I’d be single forever, trying to figure out if I was certain about The One. BS.

  • Anya

    Thank you all. I cannot hit the exactly button enough times to express how much I agree. My fiance is not perfect for me, but we fit. Fit comfortably enough that I can say that I cannot imagine myself spending my life with somebody else. There might be someone who fits me better, for all I know I might even already have met him, but I chose to love this guy and no one else.

    Just hours befor reading this, I had a major breakdown about if marrying him was the right thing to do. You`ve cured me from that. Thank you so much!

  • Tessa

    I completely agree that love is an action and a choice. You have to love, love doesn’t just come all magically to you. Unless you are talking about being in lust and puppy love, but that’s not real, pure love, now is it? :)

    But I do not think it has to simply be so logical as it is portrayed here. My boyfriend and I plan on getting married in the future. We both have told each other that we easily could have chosen a billion other paths that wouldn’t have let us meet, and we could each be decent matches for other people out there as well. BUT…we both also agree that there would just be something not right in our lives if that happened. Kind of like a certain emptiness. I feel complete with this man. He is not perfect, and neither am I, but somehow when we are together magical things happen. It totally sounds cheesy, but as he would say, “that’s just how it is.” Simple as that. He’s a better fit for me than I could ever imagine, and I’m so glad that we met.

    We’ve been together for about 2 years now, and we still get butterflies for each other, and we still feel strongly about one another, and we still act like freaking lovebirds like we did when we first started dating. Call me crazy and naive, but I honestly don’t see any sign of that ending in the years to come. We know in our hearts that we are supposed to be together; I guess you could say we believe that things happen for a reason. And to ensure that we stay together, we also choose to love each other and to be together, and actively involve ourselves in our relationship. So while I agree that love is an active choice, I also think that there is some degree of “the one” and deeper meaning involved. But maybe that’s just because I am a spiritual person :P.

    • Liz

      i think i’m pickin up what you’re puttin down, tessa. and i think sometimes the best relationships defy logic or explanation.

      but i think, too, that it’s not something that we can rely on- the squish, the butterflies, the “click.” there’s got to be something that fits together when you find someone to marry. but waiting around for perfection- waiting around for sparks or romantic comedy-style love is… well, sometimes dangerous. as is marrying someone ONLY because of that click. or relying on that stuff to carry you through the hard times. the truth is, that sometimes the hard times are easier because of your squishy romantic feelings. but there may hit a point where it just… isn’t. and rather than allowing those squishy feelings to carry you through, you may need to work hard to make sure they stick around.

      i think perhaps sharon was addressing these dangers. the danger of waiting for perfection, or of giving up because you’ve “lost that lovin feelin.”

      i HATE the idea of soulmates. the, “you complete me,” crap makes me shudder involuntarily. but at the same time- there’s something about my relationship with my husband that makes me think twice about it all. josh doesn’t complete me, and i would certainly survive without him. but i do feel as though my life would be missing something significant.

      there’s something that feels right about what we have- but, similar to what sharon has said- some of that is because of the work we’ve invested in each other, and the choices we’ve made about our relationship.

  • I beyond love this. I kind of got teary reading your metaphor because it’s just so perfectly spot on.

  • Jessica

    I really love this metaphor and I’d like to bring it up as something for our officiant to talk about during our ceremony – especially since my fiance and I went through the arduous process of buying a house this year. But like many homes, we know we’re not staying here forever. Our needs will change and this house that we love so much right now will just become “the house we had in Germantown” someday. People don’t stay in houses forever so how can we use this analogy for our marriage? I’m pretty sure if I brought that idea up it would sort of hurt his feelings.

    So, I really want to like this analogy and adopt it as my own as everyone has those little quirks that make a house a home, but I’m having trouble.

    • Liz

      no analogy is perfect. ;)

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  • Jessie

    I would like to say that weeks later, I’m still reading this post and getting chills. This is the most level-headed description of love I’ve ever read. Beautiful.

    • Lisa

      Me too, me too!

  • Sarah

    That’s perfect.
    Because that’s exactaly how I feel. Much more eloquent, but still.
    Love and I we just kind of happened.
    We were friends for years. We essentially had a four year “first date” (You know, where you get to know the person? Yeah. Four years)
    And then we kissed.
    And we were still friends, but there was something more and different there.
    And from there everything kind of flowed.
    We fell in love, and planned our future, but there’s not really a “moment” that either of us can point to when we “knew”
    But it also speaks to what I’ve always hesitated saying out loud, because it sounds terribly unromantic.
    “Love is a choice.”
    I wake up everyday and I choose to love Love. He’s not always perfect, and I don’t always like him, but I choose him. Every day for the rest of my life, I choose to love him. Because he’s my home.
    And for the record, he also proposed in a swoony way. (Though I was always pretty clear that I wanted a swoony proposal). :)