To my future husband…

Dear Future Husband,

I have a lot to say to you. I broke up with a great guy for you. Literally days before Valentine’s Day, I realized that our relationship was not going down the path I want for my life and I decided to end things with him, because I wanted to hold out for the thing that’s perfect for me (and, hopefully, for you, too). I have high expectations for you. I have high expectations for myself, too. I work harder than I’ve ever worked in my life right now, in college, just so that I (and you, and our future children, hopefully) will have everything we need, and a lot of what we want from life.

I don’t have any crazy expectations, I just have a lot of “wish list” traits for the man who will become my husband someday. I want someone who is connected to God, and helps me to grow in my relationship with Him. I want that to be a central part of each of our lives, and a central part of our life together as a couple. I want to live in Florida, and I want you to enjoy the beach and Walt Disney World with me (that’s actually huge to me). I want to spend a lot of our weekends doing the little things like walking our future dog and cooking together. I want to laugh and love every day with you. I want you to treat me better than I think I deserve. I don’t necessarily expect, or need these things, but they’d be part of the ideal relationship for me.

I want you to think I’m beautiful and sweet. I want to think the same of you. I want to cry, laugh, grow, and just live with you, as a great couple who is completely sure of their relationship. And that’s why I gave up all my previous relationships: to find the one I was completely sure of. To wait for you. I hope you appreciate that. I hope I appreciate you the way you deserve to be appreciated, too. I know I will. I hope we live together until we get old and boring. I hope we rock in our rocking chairs on the front porch every night. I hope we never stop doing little things to make each other happy. I hope we never ever take one another for granted.

Most of all, I hope God grants me the chance to find you at the right time in the right way. I know that, if it is part of His plan for me to have a husband, it will be you. I will find you, or you will find me. Everything will end up the way it is meant to. I pray every day that I will be patient in finding you, and not look too hard. If it is meant to be, it will be.

All my love,

Your future wife

Why Twenty-Somethings Don’t Actually Know What Love Means

Love is maybe one of the most complicated things we deal with in this world.  There’s no perfect definition, there’s no set of universal rules that governs how to love someone, and how to be loved by someone else. There’s no way to know when it’s real. There’s no code to tell you when someone is being honest with you.

I guess that’s what makes love love in the first place. If you love someone truly, without any reservations on your part or theirs, you will trust them just because you do. There will be little or no explanation for a lot of the things you feel for the person. There will be hardly any logic to your decisions. You won’t be able to stop yourself from doing all the things you want to do to get close to them. Nobody who isn’t in love with someone will be able to understand the things you’re feeling. 

I think our culture for a long time has been fascinated by a sense of falling in love at a young age, and leaving love there. The next love story is about the next generation, and by the time the original kids who fell in love are married and middle-aged, we’ve forgotten all about the magnificent romance they shared when they were just teenagers, or young adults.

Maybe that’s what’s wrong with so many relationships nowadays. We can see ourselves happy with the person we’re with in six months, a year even, but when it comes to the long-term, everyone avoids the whole idea of staying as in love as they are when they meet. I understand that no love story is going to stay as intense or enormous as it is when the parties involved are just beginning to fall for one another. But a love should not be allowed to dwindle into small flames that only occasionally flare into a fire.  A love that is meant to last must be nourished.

If I were planning my long-term relationship, I would want only a few things from my partner. I would want honesty and fidelity (because I’m a human being, duh).  I would want the occasional surprise. It wouldn’t have to be an expensive necklace or a pair of tickets to Hawaii. I would want a note or a letter from the guy reminding me of the reasons he fell in love with me. Or maybe a flower, or my favorite candy, when he knows I’ve had a rough day. I would want to go to Disney World on a regular basis, because it’s absolutely one of my favorite places in the world, and I would need that in my life.  I would want to set aside an hour or 30 minutes every day just to decompress together. We could cook dinner together, watch an episode of a TV show, or just talk about our days. I would want my husband to keep me informed about his life. I would want to know all the stupid little details, from where he went to lunch to what boring things he did at work today. 

That’s how it’s supposed to be. You’re supposed to want to know those tiny details about another person when you’re in love. You’re supposed to be the person they want to tell those things to, because you’re the love of their life. You’re the one.

Don’t settle for something that doesn’t make you happy.

Why Nobody Cares How Old You Are When You Get Married

Every few days, I see a new post on Facebook about a singular topic on everyone my age’s mind today: marriage. It seems like someone I know is always getting engaged or posting an article from an outside website either supporting or opposing people marrying at a young age. I have my own opinions on this; as a twenty-something myself, I’m just getting to the age where people constantly seem to be asking me about my future with whoever I’m dating.

But I have mixed feelings on the subject, too. On the one hand, I’m a firm believer in true love. I grew up obsessed with Disney movies, and while the princess-meets-prince-and-lives-happily-ever-after story may be a naïve conception, I do believe that there’s someone (or, more realistically, someones) out there for everyone.  I think that there are times when people just know that they’re supposed to be with someone. But on the other hand, I’ve dated someone for three years and still got to the end realizing that I wasn’t supposed to be with that person, and did not want to get married to him.  So can people get married after only knowing someone for a few months and not be taking an enormous risk?

I don’t know. I’d like to think that there’s something as pure and simple as “love at first sight.” But I don’t think there is. I think you have to really know someone. I think you have to know what they want out of life, and compare that to what you want. I think you have to see how they react under stress, and how they act after the world’s worst day. You have to know what they’re favorite song to listen to is when they’re in a great mood. And sometimes you can get away with learning all these things about someone after you’re married, and it works out fine. My grandparents’ generation did that. They got married at 18 or 19 and just hoped for the best. Well, guess what? My mom’s parents are both divorced and remarried, and my dad’s parents are both divorced. Getting married young is often a mistake (NOT ALWAYS!!!!! BUT OFTEN!). A lot of people aren’t mature enough at 19 (or 20, or 21, or 26) to get married to someone else, dedicating their entire life to that person’s happiness and joy. I know I’m not. I’m still in school! I have a million things that I want to do before I marry someone and expect them to put me in front of everything that they want.

A lot of people look at this just oppositely to what I have just said. They want to mark everything off of a perpetual to-do list that will never be completed.  And marriage is somewhere between get a job and have a baby, so it gets lumped in arbitrarily wherever it’s convenient. Get married when you’re ready. If you’re ready at 23, go for it. If you can honestly look into someone’s eyes and say that you will never meet anyone who makes you as happy as they do, and you’re not in high school and you’ve dated a little before and you can’t even put your feelings into words because they just make your insides light up, then get married. Don’t post on Facebook to defend your decision. The only people you need to convince are yourself and your significant other. Even your parents can’t do much by the time you’re an adult supporting yourself.

But if you have doubts, what’s the harm in waiting? Breakups suck, but they’re a lot less expensive than divorces. And what if you get so far into it that there are kids involved? As a product of two parents who never married, I can honestly say I wish that I had had parents who were together. I wish I hadn’t been sent over to my dad’s every other weekend. I’m an adult, and I’m completely happy with my life, and I love both my parents a lot, but they made my childhood more difficult than it could have been if they had just waited to have kids with the right person. I want to do better for my kids.

There are A LOT of things I want to do with my husband someday, whether he is the guy I’m dating right now or a guy I don’t even know exists yet. I want to go to Disney World with him, and I want to see his face light up at the things I’ve loved since I was a little girl. I want to go to Hawaii, simply because I’ve never been and it seems like the most romantic thing. I want to stay in a hotel high above New York City and watch the lights together one night. I want to find out that we’re going to have a baby, and I want to watch that baby grow into a wonderful person. I want to watch all his favorite movies, and I hope that he’ll want to watch mine, too.

But there are also A LOT of things I still want to do before I even get engaged. I want to get a puppy, and raise it to be a dog. I want to prove I can handle the responsibility, not only to others but also to myself. I want to graduate from pharmacy school and get a job and earn a paycheck. I want to pick out what part of the world to live in. I want to pick out the kind of house I want. I want to go to the beach by myself for a day, just because I need an escape from the world and solitude sometimes makes me feel a lot better (the beach always makes me feel way better). And I want to be with someone who will be as perfect for me on the first day we meet as he is fifteen years after we get married. It doesn’t have to be a fairy tale—the real thing will be better.

So I guess that’s what I’m trying to say in all this. I don’t want people to wait to get married until they’re 28 just because that’s suddenly the magical age where you’re mature enough to handle a life partner. Nope. Not true. There is no magic age. Some kids are probably mature enough at like 17 for marriage (not many). Who cares? There are people with no rights to get married at all, and that’s not fair.  If people want to get married when they’re 20, and they do get married and they stay happy for years and never split up, then how can anyone say they made a mistake marrying too young? There are people who don’t marry until 40 and still don’t make it. Making a marriage work comes from within. It has nothing to do with age and everything to do with the two people who are getting married.

I believe people should be allowed to divorce, of course. I can’t imagine being with a man who made me absolutely miserable for years and having no escape. I guess that’s why it’s important to me to wait until I’m sure. Three years is much longer than many people date before getting engaged or married. And I’ve been with someone for that long only to discover that it was nothing like the relationship I wanted to be in for all eternity. Maybe that’s just me. Maybe I knew from the start that I was going to break up with him eventually, but I wanted the experience anyway. I don’t think so, though. I think that in the beginning, I thought that he was the right person. He made me happy, he understood me, and I understood him. It was like having a best friend who completely got me. A soul mate, if you will. But soul mates aren’t my favorite cliché when it comes to love. I actually hate the idea of soul mates. They’re too strong to last long. You need someone who supports you, but isn’t just like you. “Opposites attract,” people say. But I don’t know if I believe that, either. There should be a balance. The person you’re with should completely support you, and always listen, and try to see your view. But they should also be their own person, with their own hobbies and their own interests. And you can share those interests with each other.

So that’s my stance about love and matrimony. When you’re ready, get married. When the person you’re with is ready, go home together and slip briskly into an intimacy from which you’ll never recover. Don’t do it because you’re the “right age,” and you’re with a person who you think you love.